The Semantic Search Engine: Understanding Natural Language Search

Ray Kurzweil is the Direct of Engineering at Google. What’s Kurzweil doing at Google? He’s trying to make their computers smarter than humans, and he believes there’s no question that this can be achieved in 15 years. For now, he wants to make Google’s computers smarter than IBM’s Watson. So what’s semantic or natural language search have to do with it? The whole point of creating a super smart computer for Google is to understand the meaning behind what’s being searched in search engines every day. To become an answer engine, you have to know what people want even when they’re just type in two words. Today’s websites should plan articles for natural language SEO to ensure that they are apart of the new answer engine model.

What are Natural Language Keywords?

Search is changing constantly, but it’s most noticeable when major search engines like Google announce a big algorithm addition or change. For example, last year algorithm updates for Google targeted user’s intent as part of “semantic search” optimization. The Hummingbird update for Google starts with predicted user intent for a query and interpretation and then uses semantic technology to refine the results. In this way, the search engine is almost having a conversation with users. As more users use mobile devices and voice technology to speak search questions and not necessarily type keywords, natural language search is becoming more important than ever.

How to Optimize Pages for User Intent

The key to semantic search is optimization for user intent. Search engines are now using what’s called a form based template to answer questions in real time from users. These mostly relate to Schema.org. For example, if someone is looking for a looking for a hotel. They may voice search “What’s the best hotel in Kansas City?” The user intent is broken down into rating (“best”), thing (“hotel”) and place (“Kansas City”). This means that the user wants to only see information about top-rated hotels in Kansas City. If you’re a travel internet marketing company in this area, you’d want keywords specifically tailored to answering this question such as ratings of hotels in Kansas City and why they are considered the best in terms of activities, dining, scenic views, pools, spa, etc.

Combine SEO Campaign with Social Media Marketing

Semantic search also known as entity search or natural language SEO is about a personalized search for the user. The results are more accurate, and the top five results contain a landing page that is exactly what the user was looking for. Ideally, the search engine hits the nail on the proverbial head with the first result, but it’s difficult when dealing with a human mind. That’s why it’s important to consider your user’s experience and how they are accessing information about your brand, products or services. Most likely, they are receiving some information from social media sources. Users are also setting up search profiles based on sites that they already visit which includes social media networks. They are including their location, user profile preferences and other personalized content to make their searches more inclined to their needs.

By identifying your social audience, understanding their interests and covering content that will combine their interests and your products, you will have a targeted content strategy that can deliver semantic search results.

Use Google+ to the Full Capacity

Google loves when businesses and people use their social media platform over any other, and why not? It makes them more successful as a company. Google+ profiles and interactions are critical to how Google will view your business and display you in search results. For those companies that have fully completed profiles with pictures, keywords, details, products and updates every day, you’re likely going to be somewhere at the top. It’s also important to get on board with Google Authorship as more users are personalizing search results by Google+ author. These are content writers and expert authors who have a Google+ profile that links to what they write on the web. Users can search specifically for these authors when looking up content.

How to Use Semantic Markup on Your Pages

Linked open data or structured data markup is important to developing your page for search engine optimization now. You have to pay specific attention to markup vocabulary for your site found on Schema.org. This language is recognized on most search engines. There are a variety of tools to help you in your quest to be ready for semantic search including the Structured Data Markup Helper from Google. You can also use RDFace.

Continue with the Best SEO Practices

You still have to continue with standard SEO practices including fast page load times, site maps, easy to use website architecture, cross-platform optimization, responsive design and optimal keywords for your site. With the rise of mobile devices, it’s also important to optimize SEO strategies for mobile users.