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Semantic Search Changed SEO Forever – Here’s Why #138

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Semantic search has revolutionized the way search works. What is it, and how does it affect SEO?
In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge explains some of the distinctiveness of semantic search and why it has made search easier for users.

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Transcript

Mark: Eric, what do we mean by semantic search?
Eric: By semantic search, we mean the efforts of search engines to do a better job of understanding natural language.
Mark: Okay, so understanding the different ways people ask for information.
Eric: Right, Mark. So, for example, if I just search for hotels, Google will most likely show the hotels near wherever I am at that moment. But if I’ve been doing searches about Paris before that, then it’s more likely to show me hotels near Paris, or in Paris.
Mark: Why is Google bothering with doing that?
Eric: The rise of voice search is kind of behind this. People interacting with Google by voice, especially on mobile devices, has been one of the prime motivators behind semantic search. When speaking a query, people tend to want to ask in the same way they would other humans, with natural language.
[Tweet “The rise of voice search has been a prime motivator behind semantic search. Learn why at”]
Mark: Is semantic search just the search engine being smarter about query content then?
Eric: Well, no. It involves far more than that. For one thing, semantic search is connected to Google’s quest for its search engine to understand the world and the functions between things and their relationships. Google’s knowledge graph is a vast database that stores those connections and it’s Google’s move from strings to things.

Mark: Strings to things?
Eric: Yes. So, string refers to words or groups of words. Before the knowledge graph and semantic search, search was largely dependent on the searcher using strings of words that the search engine recognized that could match the strings on web pages.
But now, Google can also go beyond strings to recognize the relationship and the context of various things, such as the way it knows that Le Royal Monceau is a hotel in the city of Paris, but the Motel 6 across the street here in Framingham, Massachusetts is not.

Mark: It sure isn’t, but I bet there’s a lot more to semantic search than that, right?
Eric: Indeed. We could talk about structured data in semantic search, the influence of Google Hummingbird and RankBrain, and more.
Mark: And to learn about those aspects of semantic search, and also about how it impacts your SEO strategy, see Eric’s in-depth guide to semantic search on our blog.
Eric: Thanks, Mark!

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About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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Thoughts on “Semantic Search Changed SEO Forever – Here’s Why #138”

  1. Hi Filip – AI is just a tool to be used by search engines to accomplish their goals more effectively. So it means they’ll get better over time at identifying quality content and enforcing their guidelines overall. It will also impact their ability to use voice search input, and that’s a critical change as well.

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