Google looks for meaning, not for specific words
When Google scans your site for information, it no longer pulls out the keyword phrases it thinks are relevant and pairs them to user queries, it interprets the data on your website, and begins to form its own conclusions about what your site and your business really deliver — Google is becoming exceptionally sophisticated.
This means that it doesn’t matter how many times you used the phrase “auto repair shop” throughout your website. You could use “auto repair shop,” “car repair specialists,” and “vehicle repair facility” on different pages, and Google would put you in the exact same category. Therefore, it’s far more important to optimize your site for a specific meaning rather than a specific phrase, and you can likely forget about keywords altogether in an effort to post relevant content and naturally build yourself as an authority in a given space.
Semantic search is in full effect
SEO experts are talking about how search engines, such as Google and Bing, will increasingly adopt semantic search technology. The potential impact could be so large that no online business owner or marketer can afford to ignore this development.
For example, the Hummingbird update – the changes made to Google’s algorithm in late August 2013 – is an important step in moving away from keyword-based searches towards entity-based searches.
According to the experts future developments will likely result in a search engine that no longer looks at the absolute meaning of a keyword. Instead the focus will shift to the actual purpose of the search (User Intent). Search engine can enter the user’s mind, so to speak, and understand exactly what the user wants and provide a direct answer to the question without showing pages of results based on keyword matches. Slowly but surely, search engine algorithms are being modified so that they can provide an answer to a question, instead of producing a list of links. One of the first outputs is Google’s Knowledge Graph. Basically, Google has built a gigantic list of existing elements and their interrelationships.
The Worldwide Web is Getting Structured
The worldwide web is currently composed of large amounts of unstructured data, data that isn’t organized or classified according to any model. Search engines are able to detect patterns within web pages based on the use of keywords, but they can’t assign any meaning to the data. With the introduction of semantic search, every piece of information is seen as an entity. In this way a structure is imposed on the chaos. An average web page in a retail environment, for example, can contain dozens of entities: price, color, size, status, brand, reviews, and so on. By structuring the data search engines can understand exactly what the page says, and because of this new understanding, they can produce really accurate search results. You can add entities to websites by using rich snippets or schema microdata.
Google provides some very specific markup formats for various categorical entries on your site, such as events or places.
These markups, as those found at schema.org, help Google to easily process and understand specific types of information on your site.
It can then use those entries to display accurate information in its Knowledge Graph, giving your site more visibility without a basis in keyword relevance and giving users more direct answers to their questions.
This smarter way of searching can deliver richer results to users and provide them with more detailed information about any subject. The latest Google update also makes it possible to compare businesses directly by applying any filters you like, such as average price and rating.
Voice Technology Will Become Ubiquitous
Search by keyword remains the most ROI-positive medium in just about all media-mix models, but the next great evolution of search is upon us.
Whether or not a majority of all searches originate through voice inquiry by the end of 2019, as comScore predicts, the sheer volume of devices containing microphones and internet capability make voice search an omnipresent option.
People use keywords when they search by typing; they use more nuanced direction when they search by speaking. Voice technology turns keywords into meaningful language, providing better context for a user’s intent. Since most electronic devices will be voice-enabled, search engines will have oceans of natural language data to process and intricate learning algorithms to deliver the most relevant content and connections.
The ubiquity of voice-enabled devices in our lives will eliminate the perception that this technology is limited to smart speakers; we will experience it on our homes, with wearables and in our cars. Marketers learning to communicate successfully in this environment will need to consider additional factors such as access to structured data or data that has been organized into a database, making it easier to process and analyze.
It is important to understand that the “answer engines” that Google and other major search engine companies ultimately hope to be are already here. They are just in a stage of transition. The field of search engine optimization is already moving away from building indexable websites. Today’s website needs entities to provide answers to specific questions. The mapping of entities makes it easier for search engines to produce rich, personalized search results, translating in a higher conversion rate for website owners.
The deployment of intelligent algorithms was the first small step towards the new way of searching. The changes are now slowly becoming visible. The future of search will be awesome. Rest in peace, keywords. You had a great run.