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Friday, March 16, 2012

My Views On The WSJ Post “Google Gives Search A Refresh” – Semantic Search, Google And Bing





Lately The Wall Street Journal Post is dominating the social scene among the search marketers and anyone interested in a search presence or rather a presence on Google.

Search has been the Google domain ever since they started the company. Since then Google has been working on the quality of the overall search experience from the search engine and the user perspective.

First and foremost let me mention that as a search marketer or rather a SEO (As there is a lot of confusion nowadays related to this term I better be very clear, yes I am an SEO and I am proud of it) I am very happy about all the changes that Google has made to its algorithm in 2011 and the updates seem to continue on a good pace in 2012 too.

I think all these changes are drawing a clear, distinct line between organic search campaigns and paid campaigns. All of these developments will make SEOs and website owners think beyond rankings and keywords, because the true meaning of SEO is to ensure quality search engine presence on maximum search options by focusing on overall quality web presence — enhancing the quality aspects of the website and reaching out to netizens via various modes of social media.

Finally the search industry has matured and is qualitatively marching ahead. But, this has not happened overnight the search engines (Google And Bing) have been constantly working to improve the quality and display of search results by giving more and more search options over a period of time. The study of the user behavior being at the base of all the decisions as the user behavior is also constantly evolving over the years.


The WSJ Post says:

Image representing Amit Singhal as depicted in...
Image by Google.com via CrunchBase
Amit Singhal, a top Google search executive, said in a recent interview that the search engine will better match search queries with a database containing hundreds of millions of "entities"—people, places and things—which the company has quietly amassed in the past two years. Semantic search can help associate different words with one another, such as a company (Google) with its founders ( Larry Page and Sergey Brin).

I don’t know which interview they are referring to, as there is no link to the interview. But, Amit Singhal has been discussing and announcing the updates about the Google Algorithm since 2 years all excited like a kid in a candy store and Google has been working on Semantic Search for quite some time now and the launch of SPYW is the first step towards it which just has the social dimension to the relevance factor.

The semantic search is a much wider and deeper concept based on the science of semantics which has the potential to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the web eco system or within a closed system like the search engine index, to generate more relevant results.

Currently Google focuses on the Keyword-Search System. The WSJ article clearly mentions that… …“ Google isn't replacing its current keyword-search system, which determines the importance of a website based on the words it contains, how often other sites link to it, and dozens of other measures.”

But it is also mentioned in the post that ….” Google is aiming to provide more relevant results by incorporating technology called "semantic search," which refers to the process of understanding the actual meaning of words.”

Of course the real impact and implementation of this kind of update on SERPs can be judged only when Google blogs about it on its official blog and starts rolling out such semantic search results.

According to me if your site has a lot of relevant content and the content is kept fresh by updating it with the latest happenings and developments and the links are widely shared on social media and have a good amplification factor along with the possibility and potential of that content being inter-linked on the web then one need not worry about the SERPs or the search traffic for that site to be affected adversely.

If at all Google in the near future starts rolling out semantic search the relevance to the logic of the intent, the keyword mapping in the query and the freshness of the content will all matter collectively. The search engines have been working on semantic search since the advent of web 2.0 and the following PPT which was created for the first SEO Training conducted by me in 2007 where I spoke about web 3.0 and Semantic Search has an example.

(Slide 90 to 93) explains an example of Semantic Search which seems to be becoming a reality in 2012.The slides explain Semantic Search as follows: 


n  The Semantic Web is a set of technologies which are designed to enable a particular vision for the future of the Web – a future in which all knowledge exists on the Web in a format that software applications can understand and reason about. By making knowledge more accessible to software, software will essentially become able to understand knowledge, think about knowledge, and create new knowledge. In other words, software will be able to be more intelligent – not as intelligent as humans perhaps, but more intelligent than say, your word processor is today.

  n  The classic example of the Web 2.0 era is the “mash-up” — for example, connecting a rental-housing Web site with Google Maps to create a new, more useful service that automatically shows the location of each rental listing.


  n  In contrast,  the challenge for developers of the semantic Web is to build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question like: “I’m looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of $6,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child.”


  n  The Semantic Web does not only exist on Web pages.Web 3.0 works inside of applications and databases, not just on Web pages. Calling it a "Web" is a misnomer of sorts — it's not just about the Web, it's about all information, data and applications.
Bing too has been working on semantic search since a long time. The following 2009 video of Webpronews.com says it all where Javed Panjwani, the Business Development Executive at Wolfram Alpha , explained, a traditional search engine creates a Web of documents and essentially generalizes what a user is looking for. A computation engine, on the other hand, personalizes the search results, where the reference was to Semantic Search Results.



As an SEO I feel more than happy and look forward for all the coming updates (if any in the near future hopefully), because when the search is based on the relevance of content, social mentions , outreach and amplification and the logic of the query rather than only the word by word mapping of the query adds quality to the whole search process.

With this kind of the basis for search SEO will gain more meaning and the SEO industry will gain more respect and authority as the prime edifice on which SEO in this kind of search model  will be based on content, intent , social graph and the trust factor rather than link graph.

As Matt Cutts has made it very clear in all his SEO videos that SEO is all about putting your best foot forward and SEO is not spam. One of our past guest posts also points out the sentiment behind this that SEO is not magic but pure logic and hard work.

I have not got a chance to see the SPYW results as they have not yet been rolled out universally but according to my experience and what I have read on the search blogs I think SEOs should not rant about it but indulge themselves in research and rejoice at the fact that it is the true growth of the search industry and finally search has come of age and matured. Of course only Google can tell us when this will become a reality.Waiting for the next Google blog post to shed some more light on this and let us know when the changes mentioned in the WSJ post will become a reality.
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