The web may be global but its effects are felt most acutely at a local level. While there have always been businesses that targeted a global market the bulk of business today are brick and mortar stores with a web presence or online businesses that have a local presence. Either way search that delivers global results when all you wanted to find was a pizza joint in your neighborhood is, understandably, less than satisfying.
Thankfully search is changing. In the transition from Boolean search with its statistical text analysis properties to semantic search that uses ontology libraries to ascribe meaning to things Google has moved in what it famously calls “from strings to things”. The effects of the transition are noticed in two things that are part of the same phenomenon: First the fragmentation of search and second its intense personalization.
Up Close and Personal
Google’s traditional desktop search has, of course, been fragmenting for some time. Google Local Search was an initiative that got under way in 2004. What is new in the semantic web is the degree to which Google personalizes the results so that the traditional “front page of Google” now begins to become a largely meaningless phrase as each person carrying out a search will see something different.
To do that Google now uses data from the person carrying out the search query that can include IP address, a GPS signal (for enabled mobile devices and smartphones), past search history, social history, search patterns, moving speed, the time of day, social network search patterns and personal reputation.
The result is that search then becomes almost predictive in nature (which is what Google Now is of course) with results that are relevant and contextualized in a way that had not been possible until now.
Search Marketing is Changing
The change in Google’s search also means that marketing, and with it search engine optimization (SEO) are changing as well. For a start marketers can no longer afford to approach their online marketing as a compartmentalized exercise. Nor can marketing be approached as a keyword-driven automatic content-creation activity. It now needs to have a clearly worked out rationale that in its totality gives a clear, consistent signal of what you do, how and why.
The terms to focus on here are “consistent” and “signal”. In the semantic web nothing is one-off. Reputation, value and meaning (the true definition of the word “semantic”) are calculated all the time, filtered through the overlapping layers of freshness, accuracy, context and relevance. Yesterday’s darling website may no longer be that if its content is out of date, its social signal weakening and its engagement slowing down.
This also shows what your marketing now has to do in order to take advantage of the connectivity that is the norm within the semantic web. In the creation of content, advertising, Press Releases and multimedia presentations there should be a tone and style that are part of the ‘message’ of a brand. To avoid overloading the end user and creating potential barriers to the brand’s marketing, the ‘message’ itself is parsed out, ‘chunked’ and then presented in small, manageable bites the totality of which adds to the equity a brand is trying to achieve.
If all this suggests to you that marketing has become more personal, direct and value-driven, then you’re on the right track.
Thanks David — do you have any thoughts with respect to Schema.org, which seems to be a the heart of search engines’ “semantic search” initiatives?