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What is Semantic Search?

What is Semantic Search?

If you follow updates in search algorithms, you may have heard the term “semantic search.” What is semantic search? Why should you care?

With more than 30 trillion websites in the world, we would be lost without ways to find what we are looking for through some kind of cataloged search. Search is how we navigate the web. Early on, the process has been often easy to game, which is why SEO (search engine optimization) has often been viewed with skepticism. Each update is an attempt to make search better, and to devalue the sites that are using techniques to game the system.

Search is ever evolving, and the future is clearly leading to a more social web. Many of the algorithm updates over the last few years have led to a new type of search experience that is affected by what Google calls “Semantic Search”.

Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding the searcher’s intent and the contextual meaning of terms, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results. It has paved the way for verbal search accuracy, with systems like Siri, Corsana, and Google Voice.

Semantic Search uses a complex set of algorithms that include social signals. The transition to semantic search has brought people into the equation. In the semantic web, many things can be measured that haven’t been in the past. The most notable additions are the ability for search engines to discern Intent and Context.

How Does Semantic Search Affect Me?

The effect of semantic search is that your website content is now measured more on the intent and context of your content, as well as the activity surrounding it. Search engines can measure things like the trustworthiness of a website, based on how people share the content, comment on it, and interact with it. If the things you write and post on your website get shared through social platforms, commented on and liked, your content is deemed more trustworthy. This means that your content is still a priority, because good content will get liked and shared, and will receive comments.

While strategic keywords still play a part, the algorithms are much more suffisticated than ever. They understand the context of the body of content. They understand more of the intent of the content. Here are some examples:

  • If you ask Siri, “What is the weather in Washington D.C. today?” you will get an answer. If your second question is “What about Baltimore?”, Siri will know that you are referring to weather, and will answer. When you next ask, “What about tomorrow?”, Siri will know that you are asking about the weather in Baltimore tomorrow. This is just one example of semantic search, in which the search system understands your intent, and is able to follow human language through a series of complicated changes.
  • Google understands many syllables and the overall intent of a search:

Content is Still King

As we blog and create and share social content, we don’t need to worry so much about keywords and equations. We just need to create good content. We always need to keep in mind that we are providing information that people want; content that answers their questions and provides information that they can’t get anywhere else. When we create the kind of content that keeps our clients and future clients in mind, we can rest assured that it will be engaging.

What is Good Content?

As you seek to create content for your blog and website, always keep your reader in mind. Ask yourself, “What do they want to know?” In my experience, real estate blog readers want to know about these things:

  • Neighborhoods: activities, schools, parks, shopping, restaurants, events, etc. And they want pictures, videos and descriptive information. They want to know what it’s like to live there.
  • Real estate information: transaction details, how the process works, how is the market?, what do I need to know, etc.
  • Mostly, they want their questions answered. As real estate agents, we are answering questions all the time. Why not get that information on our blogs?

By providing information for our readers, we are presenting ourselves as the local real estate expert in our neighborhoods and in our niche. So when you are creating content, keep your reader in mind. It’s about them, after all.

Search engines are changing. Instead of continuing to match query to keywords, they try to discern the searcher’s intent and context to deliver the most relevant results.

This is called semantic search.

And this is the future.

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