Semantic search is Google's growing ability to make associations between things in ways that come closer to how we humans make such connections. When you ask me, "How do I get to Market Street?" I might hand you a bus schedule. I know that the bus schedule might contain the best solution to your problem, even though your question did not contain the words "bus" or "schedule."
Look at this example below. For a long time now Google has bolded words in search results that it used to match your search query. In the past, these would be exact matches to your query found on the page in the results. So if I searched for "Durham bus schedule," Google would bold the words "Durham," "bus" and "schedule" where they occurred in the content of the page in my results, either in the title or in the meta description underneath.
But look what happened in the result below. My query was "google authorship gone from search." If you look at the title line in the second result (my article) you see that Google has bolded (and therefore matched my query with) the words "google" and "authorship." So far a good old-fashioned exact match keyword relationship. But that article doesn't rank on the first page for "google authorship," so something else in the query has to be making it so relevant that it comes up as the #2 result.
As you can see, Google has bolded in the result the word "dropped" in my content. But "dropped" is not in my query! What has happened here? Clearly Google has been able to make a semantic association, just as you or I would, that "google authorship gone from search" means essentially the same thing as "google authorship dropped from search."
Notice that this is not a mere synonymical relationship. (Some people wrongly assume that semantic search is just Google using synonyms for keywords, like a giant thesaurus.) "Dropped" is not a direct synonym for "gone." Google Search actually "understands" that the intent of my search query is semantically equivalent in human language to "authorship dropping from search."
And this is why your rich content that thoroughly covers your main topics in ways deeply meaningful and helpful to humans will gain you more and more traffic from Google in the years to come. Google is getting better and better at understanding what people mean by their queries, not just what they say. And its getting better at understanding when your content is helpful to a broader range of queries, even if you don't use the same exact words.
For an expert treatment of this topic, and the whole "brave new world" of Google search, I highly recommend the book Google Semantic Search by .
For a very thorough analysis of how Google handles queries in a semantic search world, please see the excellent article by on the blog: http://blog.ahrefs.com/google-processes-queries-semantic-web-environment/
BONUS! David Amerland will be our guest on this Tuesday's Digital Marketing Answers Show hosted by and Yours Truly, sponsored by . Event page at http://goo.gl/u6XiwF
- David Tiong Web DesignOwner, present
I love designing websites and helping people to find ways to promote themselves and their businesses online.
I blog about blogging, growing your business, online marketing and social media, productivity and time management, and gaining more traffic to your website through SEO.
"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu
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