Google wants the best content to win.
The more Google serves up content for searches that you find useful, the more likely you keep returning to the search engine. The company’s business model depends on this concept with the high volume of traffic to organic search essentially feeding paid search, the ads that appear above and to the right of the organic listings. A decline in this traffic jeopardizes what was a $45 billion revenue stream for Google last year.
That makes semantic search a big deal. Semantic search strives to understand the intent of the searcher which may or may not include keywords for context.
For example, if I’m searching for a tool to help with improving the load times of my website because I know Google now emphasizes this signal, I might search on [increase the speed of my website], which serves up the following SERP (search engine results page):Google’s own developer tool doesn’t make the Page 1 cut.
If I tweak the search to [tool for increasing speed of my website], different content comes my way, this time with Google’s tools listed twice:Given that Google rules the search universe with an iron algorithm, it stands to reason that I would highly value Google’s input on improving the speed of my site. Yet, not even Google can make the connection until the keyword “tool” is included in the search.
Semantic search and understanding intent are difficult.
Appreciating their complexity, I attended the Search Engine Journal Summit in Silicon Valley and found Marla Johnson’s “Message in a Bottle: Finding the Right Audience” session especially enlightening.
Better yet, I came away with a pragmatic technique to start addressing semantic search in our campaigns which blend PR and owned media.
As searches become more specific (which tends to make them longer), they increasingly consist of questions. By understanding the types of questions being asked by your target audience, including an FAQ page can siphon off some of this traffic.
Simply capture the questions with the greatest volume – for B2B clients, there might not be enough volume to register, so you’ll need to make an educated guess – and answer those questions on a single page.
The beauty of questions is that there’s nothing to interpret regarding “intent.” The person wants an answer to his/her question which may or may not include relevant keywords.
You can see how this plays out in the SEO supporting Graceland in which the site includes the most common questions asked about Elvis (not Graceland).Great way to compete for the Elvis long tail (does sound a bit weird). In fact, some quick research shows the Graceland site outperforms the official Elvis site at www.Elvis.com on searches related to Elvis.
Moving to the tactical side, if you dig into the meta data you find that questions actually shape the title tag:The FAQ is about to make an appearance in our integrated campaigns.
Note: For more on the topic of SEO from a PR perspective, you might check out “PR and SEO: No Longer a Match Made in Hell” and “Organic Search Should Be Called Earned Search”