I get really tired of explaining search these days. I enter corporate halls where wide-eyed junior execs expect it to be a Holy Grail, the thing that’ll help them create the plan that’ll increase sales and boost their careers. And I talk to SMEs, guys huddled around a desk, in the office, looking for the insights I can provide that’ll help them mince their competition. It then strikes me: they all want the same thing from me: shortcuts. The very thing I can’t provide.
You see search is changing and the web is changing with it. We are in a state of transition where the Boolean search of the past with its statistical text analysis model is fading to be replaced by something that behaves with a certain degree of intelligence and which can display deductive reasoning and learning behavior I can at this point begin to go through the list of structured data implementation, entity extraction, relational inference points and data nodes that make up a large part of my corporate talk but it won’t do you any good.
What you really need to know is how the heck semantic search is going to impact you and whether there is anything in it that will help without you having to add a truckload of work on a daily load that is already looking impossible. Well, here, I come bringing glad tidings.
If you’re a corporate behemoth (or even a top level SME) you will struggle to make semantic search work for you, at least in the beginning. But a startup with some fire in its belly and the drive to grow fast is actually better positioned to take advantage of it. The reason for this lies in thinking more than acting. Ultimately search marketing is, at the executional level, a fairly straightforward activity. But thinking has to take place before acting if you don’t want to end up wasting time and money and that isn’t easy.
Forgetting, for a moment, all the bells and whistles that make semantic search what it is, let’s focus on what it is there to do: To extract information from the web, link it with everything else it finds and understand, truly understand, what it means. It’s a simple enough concept with an exponentially rising level of difficulty. It means that now concepts like “trust”, “reputation” and “identity” are directly computable and transferable across the entire web, not just your site or the Adwords account you use or the social network you spam with your links.
It’s a hard thing to wrap a corporate head around of but for most entrepreneurs it’s intuitive. They are driven by a mission statement that has a definite focus and everything they do, online or offline, is marked by the enthusiasm, drive and passion that has made them entrepreneurs in the first place. And here semantic search can definitely help. To take advantage of it then here’s what you have to do:
1. Be yourself. Forget being sleek, packaged and ‘professional’ in order to impress. Personality, freshness and honesty, these days, will get you more eyeballs and interaction and these lead to engagement. Engagement is one of the drivers of semantic search.
2. Be connected. Use your website but link it to your social network profile and link from there back to your website. Link up, as a matter of fact, all the different digital points of you on the web. The more you help Google understand who you are and what you do the better it will be for you.
3. Be transparent. Tell it like it is, warts and all. Share your pains and your gains. You will find that not only it gets you more online followers but they are now willing to evangelize for you and that’s where the proverbial pot of gold lies.
It’s three easy steps. No knowledge of programming necessary. No clever marketing theories. No gimmicks. Above all, no shortcuts. It takes time, commitment and drive to maintain this kind of approach. Do them though and you will soon find that your online visibility increases without you having to obsess about search and SEO, and that in itself is a big win.
About David Amerland
David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’. His books on online marketing, SEO and the social media revolution have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build successful online businesses. When he is not busy writing he advises companies and start ups on social media strategy and gives talks about the social media revolution on the web. He maintains his own blog at http://helpmyseo.com where you can find practical SEO and social media advice and spends more time online than is probably healthy. You can follow him on G+ or @davidamerland.