I’ve been writing about semantic search and ranking well on the web for so long that I forget that not everyone is on the same understanding when it comes to search.
The SEO world, right now, is in a bit of an uproar, reminiscent of the Old Man Yells at Cloud meme, after a suspected Google search update. I say suspected because there is not yet confirmation of large-scale search rankings changes which would indicate a ground-breaking search update. Really search updates go on all the time, sometimes as frequently as three times a day which begs the question on why all the fuss?
Search, after all, is not rocket science, at least not when it comes to the practical end of it. The basics have hardly changed since semantic search was introduced (which was quite ground breaking and worthy of a little fuss amongst search engine optimizers) and the need to focus on quality in content and links is a message Google has been actively propagating since the year 2000.
It’s Not About Technology, It’s About Behavior
It would be easy, at this stage to try and get to all the reported information coming in regarding changes to search rankings from specific websites or certain webmasters and put together a working hypothesis on the nature of Google’s latest update, but what would be the point?
The interests of search align with those of the end user (i.e. delivering high-quality, relevant answers in response to search queries) and those of the webmaster (i.e. displaying high-quality, relevant, user-friendly websites that respect the quality of the experience of their visitors). Provided these steps are followed consistently there should be no need to worry about search rankings, and indeed, the best SEO practice to follow under those circumstances would be to work hard to achieve ever closer alignment.
Given the current level of fuss this is, clearly, not what is happening and human economic behavior is at the heart of it. Because there are geometric, biophysical and energy constraints to our mental development, our brains are natural optimization machines. We are made by evolution to look for shortcuts. By definition a shortcut is one where the amount of energy expanded to implement it is significantly smaller than the returns we get from it as a result. Semantic search uses such massive amounts of data to return its results that there are no viable shortcuts any more.
Despite that, the moment we get into some kind of comfort zone with search, we begin to return to the usual behavioral patterns of looking for shortcuts which means that neither SEOs nor webmasters are really doing what they are supposed to do.
Google’s semantic search makes changes and upgrades to the search engine a lot more efficient. Of even greater importance is the fact that with each change and update the index update time is a fraction of what it used to be in pre-semantic search days with the query response time not notably affected. It is capable of making newly arrived semantic data immediately searchable for users.
The New Rules of Marketing
If you’re new to all this and you’ve just started your online career, your job is now easier. Focus on delivering true value to your visitors and you’ll find that most other things take care of themselves.
If you’re ready to get your hands dirty with a little under-the-hood work start making some real choices about whether you will use structured data or a structured content approach. Prepare to build domain authority in what you do. Understand exactly what your content is supposed to do for you and for your website visitors. Finally, understand what it is that has changed in marketing and what you need to do about it.
Make your SEO life easier. Use SEO Help: 20 semantic search steps that will help your business grow to help you ask all the vital questions you need to, in order to get at the answers fast. And use Google Semantic Search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques That Get Your Company More Traffic, Increase Brand Impact, and Amplify Your Online Presence to understand how semantic search can truly help you work smarter, not harder.