Why SEO is more intelligent than you think
As search engines develop the capacity to understand the semantics of human language, the results they deliver become more targeted and relevant to the user’s needs. Yet, are many brands still underestimating the sophistication of semantic search?
Roller delves into the changes that search engines are undergoing and reveals how this must be reflected in SEO.
Semantic search is making AI possible
Why is the strive to produce sophisticated AI relevant to search engines? The short answer is that tech giants are investing in voice technology because it is the first step to developing machine learning.
Semantics are about the meaning of language rather than the order of words, or syntax. As search engines begin to recognise and understand semantics, communication with technology will improve, which will be directly valuable in the development and growth of AI.
As a consequence, when users interact with voice technology such as Siri and Alexa, they are more likely to employ natural language. Googling for a restaurant used to entail “postcode and Italian restaurant”, however now there is a higher probability that a user will simply search for “Italian near me”.
The growth in Google’s capacity to understand conversational terms and the real meaning behind them is the essence of semantic search. Since voice technology has exponentially grown in use, search engines have been forced to adapt. Meaning that the software follows the natural language patterns of the user.
This may be the modern version of the chicken or the egg argument. Which came first? Improved search engines which allow for the creation of AI or the mission for AI which inevitably results in better search engines? Whatever the answer may be, the overall user experience is set to improve in the next year.
Smarter search engines, smarter SEO?
As the way users interact with search engines changes, the way we think about SEO needs to change. Search engines now adapt to the user, not the other way around. As a result, brands must tailor themselves to the user rather than the search engine.
This means that short term box ticking might increase ranking, but what matters most is brand identity and content as a whole. Traditional SEO strategies such as keyword research, link building and meta descriptions are most certainly not obsolete, yet. However, UX (user experience) is at the center of the new world of semantic search.
What’s most transformative for the user and consequently for brands, is Google’s growing capacity to detect and respond to two things. The user’s intent and the general context of the query. As a result, the algorithm can return the most relevant and meaningful results as quickly as possible.
Therefore, the increasing intelligence of search engines is rapidly merging SEO strategy and brand identity. They must operate in a constant feedback loop of what a business stands for and how it actually performs.
Web design, site speed, quality of content and mobile-optimisation are all taken into account by Google when the algorithm selects ranking. So, these must not only be functional, but also deliberately reflective of the brand’s core message.
What needs to be taken into consideration is producing content which provides value, the UX of the site, how easy it is for the user to find the site and that the site matches the user’s expectation. All of these establish brand credibility and search engine authority, which eventually converts into loyal users.
It’s out with the old (almost) and in with the new, sophisticated network of ideas which creates an overall brand identity for the search engine to tap into. SEO is maturing and slowly but surely shapeshifting into AI. What this means for brands is a push towards providing value and creating systems which deliver a seamless user experience.