Semantic search: How brands and search engine marketers can capitalize.

By Nicholas Papagiannis

Implicit search or semantic search has been integrated into the major search engine algorithms over the past few years. It basically offers a more refined search result based on a user’s intent. In the past, Google would provide a standard result page for a term regardless of trying to discern the user’s intent. Now, if a user searched for “bears,” the results are not always about the animal.  Semantic search takes into account many factors to discern if someone may be searching for the football team, a toy or something else.

Since Google is offering a more refined search result, it not only provides search users a better experience, it provides brands an opportunity to intercept a more qualified user and potentially a higher conversion.

Brands can take advantage of semantic search by looking at the content they offer on their site. Here are some high-level tips to consider:

  • In Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), brands can review keyword-specific query reports and click through rates to their website. For high-volume searches that have low CTR or engagement rates, yet rank high, brands should run a test search and see what kind of search results Google provides. Sometimes the results displayed are more images, videos, local results or even Wikipedia entries. Semantic search considers a user’s intention and looks at factors like location, device type and search history. For example, if you are ranking high but have low engagement for “bears” searches – look at what kind of results Google is providing and tweak content formats accordingly.
  • Brands should consider the types of content that a user may be looking for throughout the purchase funnel. Some search phrases indicate an intent to purchase well ahead of the search, particularly in the research phase. Brands will have to create content with those terms to rank for those search results.
  • Leverage social data to identify what content people are seeking out during the intent phase. Create content around that since Google will most likely provide search results around the context of that language. An example is how Virgin redesigned their website and creates content around search/social and other big data.
  • Use SEO best practices to get your pages ranked for the right terms. Not only are standard SEO practices important, but the use of “structured data markup” can tell Google exactly what your content is about.  See more over on Google.