Marketing in the semantic search age requires different skills

Ask Google “What’s the best book on semantic search?” and eight out of the ten links offered on the first page talk about my book Google Semantic Search. Change the question now to “What’s the most popular book on semantic search?” and ten out of the ten links on the first page of Google deliver my book as an answer.

There is a point to this exercise that goes beyond any kind of ego stroking I might enjoy as its author and it has to do with the distinction that Google makes when it looks at refined terms such as “best” (perceived quality) and “most popular” (perceived popularity). First of all, it’s worth noting that of the links that come up in search, each time, my own site never comes up more than once in response.

In the past my own, studied, activity would have driven most of the content on the Google results pages, but that is no longer the case. Quite rightly, Google is unwilling to take me at my word when it comes to describing my own book on semantic search as “best” or “most popular” and goes looking for corroborative evidence, elsewhere, as a result.

Semantic search requires that approach. In order for value judgments like “best” and “popular” to be made in relation to a book there has to be additional information that expresses opinion. And it has to be independent of its author.

Get Past the Technical Requirements of Search

For bloggers, website owners and business owners alike semantic search is good news, provided you take some things on board.

1. Search Engine Optimisation is no substitute for quality. All the SEO tricks and tips of the past amount to nothing if your content does not pass the litmus test of providing value to the end user.

2. Website activity is insufficient. It is now no longer enough for a website to put up content that makes qualitative judgments on itself. A website that does not get engagement and does not surface, independently, in other parts of the web (citations on other websites, mentions in social networks etc) is unlikely to get very far.

3. Identity is key. This is the hardest thing for webmasters to wrap their minds round of. In the past a website was just a website. It sat there putting out information on the digital world. That is now no longer enough. A website, in order to get somewhere, has to fit in with the greater matrix of identity. Who does it belong to? What do they do? How does this fit in with the perceived subject matter of the website as a whole and its fitting in with what else is going on across the web on that subject?

4. ‘Soft’ qualities are important. Trust, Authority and Reputation are critical to success. Like you would establish yourself, methodically and through the providing of proof of concept in an offline context, now you need to do the same online.

For more details on semantic search and how it impacts upon you check out:
• Most Common Questions on Semantic Search Answered
• Semantic Search Strategies that Work
• Ten New Questions on Semantic Search Answered
• Web 3.0 and Semantic Search