On May 16th, Google announced Knowledge Graph, supposedly an entirely new breed of search (for a more detailed explanation service, check out this blog post from Browser Media. They hope that this latest innovation will change the way people search forever and obviously, if the way people use search engines changes, the way SEO professionals operate must adapt to the changing environment as rapidly as possible.
But what are the implications for the SEO industry as a whole? When semantic search rules the internet, how can those in online marketing make sure that their websites are seen by the relevant people? The following question is one that everone involved in SEO, e-commerce or who makes money through search engine marketing needs to be asking if they want to stay in the game for the long term
Will it affect commercial search terms?
The answer is not clear. Currently, it seems only portion of results will be affected, mostly those to do with history and the arts. But it seems like Google’s prerogative is to make semantic search the norm, teaching search engines that words are not meaningless sequences of characters, but refer to real, tangible things in the world.
For instance, the example given in their promotional video for Knowledge Graph is that of “Taj Mahal” as a search term. The phrase could refer to the landmark, or the band, so the knowledge graph provides results relevant to both in the knowledge graph sidebar, essentially asking which Taj Mahal you were referring to and providing the specific content you need at that moment in time.
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But in the future, is there any reason why if you were looking for a hotel near the Taj Mahal, that Google couldn’t present you with results relevant to that query? These commercial search results may not be presented within the context of the Knowledge Graph. Google is likely to want to reserve that space for PPC advertising. But this is definitely a sign of the way search is going. Specifically, in a semantic direction.
Just a few years ago, the internet was the digital equivalent of the Wild West. Dodgy chancers and fly-by-nights could often use underhanded tactics to overtake legitimate, ethical businesses in the search results. Those who were extremely skilled in the dark arts of black hat SEO could even outgun huge multinational corporations, dominating some incredibly profitable SERPS for a short, but extremely valuable period of time.
The world of SEO is changing, in my opinion for the better. There are no short cuts in SEO anymore. The only way to get to the top is by hard work and great content. It’s time to replace link building with brand building. If you’ve got a great product or service, engage with your customers and produce resources/content, that’s 90% of the job done.