Quick post to comment on the fact that the much talked about Google Semantic Search is now appearing within the SERP’s; although whether this is ‘it’ or Google’s still in a testing phase is yet to be seen. The semantic search update aims to answer the questions users are asking when they type some keywords into a search engine; effectively predicting what users want when they search for a term. It’s a strategy which seems like it would work well (think about the popularity of the Apple Siri technology, where users literally ask questions and are directed to an answer or resource) but would change the way that we all search the web, and would force websites to change their content strategies too. It would involve going from websites which are like online brochures to making brands predict the questions their customers may be asking and creating content to answer these questions.
For more about the aims of Semantic Search, this E-Consultancy article is very good.
Anyway - after seeing a few of the aforementioned ‘best guess’ results, and the odd bit of information down the right-hand side of the SERP’s, today I’ve seen some actual Semantic Search results. Googling terms such as ‘members of x band’, ‘characters in x tv show’ and ‘CEO of x company’ now brings up a result, or a list of results at the top of the SERP’s.
Take a look at this search result (Google.co.uk) for ‘members of the Beatles’:
Here, the first result comes from Google, and names the members of the band. If you click the little blue ‘Show Details’ link, you will see the following additional information:
This shows where this information has been pulled from. Note also, the small ‘Is this accurate?’ question at the bottom? Google wants to know if these are the right answers, thus adjusting the algorithm.
Perhaps most interesting / worrying for those in SEO is that this semantic search result is pretty much the ONLY thing which shows on the first page for this search term.
Once you’ve seen the semantic search results, there’s just THREE search results on the first page - two of which are Wikipedia. This is a big change for SEO.
See below an example of searching for ‘CEO of Google’ - this one is perhaps unsurprising:
In contrast, search for ‘characters in Harry Potter’ and get no semantic result -
Yet the same search for ‘characters in Hunger Games’ shows the new style results.
So it seems that whilst this is live at the moment, it’s not been rolled out fully. It will be interesting to see how this changes over time - and please let me know if you see any other interesting examples!