Online Marketing Comes of Age

searching---kevin-dooley

searching by kevin-dooley

The unregulated space of online marketing has been dominated by the cost-effective, sometimes technical, sometimes creative world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Ever since search engines became available for general public use in the 90’s the geeks pioneering this industry have easily gamed the algorithm. Last month (September 2013) Google finally hammered the last nail into the SEO coffin by launching a completely new algorithm that tolls the death knell for the era of the search term.

Once termed the ‘database of intentions’ (by John Batelle [was this really 10 years ago?!]), despite their seeming complexities, search engines have led a fairly basic existence at the mercy of those who choose to appease the algorithm and charge a pretty premium to their clients for the privilege. Until last month it was not only possible to demonstate that the masses searched using short string queries, but it was also possible to optimise for these searches and their many derivatives by simply creating more optimised copy and securing new exact-match anchor text back links to these pages.

content-maps---blprnt_van

content-maps by blprnt_van

But now finally the age of semantic search, or entity search, is here, and the world of online marketing needs to grow up and start to understand the complexities of managing the new web of knowledge and how it is interrelated.

Semantic Search

Semantics is relatively easy to explain and touches the right hemisphere; entity search is more relational and complex and definitely a left hemisphere twister.

Semantic search looks at additional sources of reference than that typically used by algorithms (keyword placement, prominance, frequency & back-links) such as structured mark up and other meta data (Schema.org, RDFa Lite and microdata). This information helps build the kinds of responses that you get from Siri, Google Glass and the Knowledge Graph results on the right of a standard SERP today.

Entity Search

Entity search is about how search queries can be broken down and understood in the context of the responses available. Here’s an explanation by Paul Bruemmer over on Search Engine Land:

Structured data can be imported and exported from triplestores. Hang in there and bear with me for a minute…

A triplestore is a database for the storage and retrieval of triples. Triplestores are optimized for the storage and retrieval of triples; they can store billions of triples.

What’s a triple? To simplify, let’s break down a sentence: the combination of three parts of speech which form any sentence include a Subject, Predicate and Object — also referred to by semantic strategists as a Triple. Triples are essentially linked entities composed of subject-predicate-object. The subject is the person/thing that carries out the action of the verb. Thepredicate is the action the subject takes. The object is the person/thing upon which the action is carried out.

Simple example of a triple: Mrs. Keller is teaching Algebra.

Mrs. Keller – subject – an entity

Algebra – object – an entity

is teaching – predicate or relationship – links the entities

Triples are expressed as Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). Answer engines will retrieve very specific data from large databases of triplestores storing billions of triples, and linking billions of subjects, objects, and predicates to form relationships. The result is more accurate answers to our queries by internally verifying validated data and relationships that link to trusted documents (structured data).

So what does a good online marketing offering look like these days? Well it’s still has to represent a healthy balance of left and right hemisphere disciplines. The physical deliverable is still a content strategy, but it’s a robust argument for the content strategy that represents the creative as it has to still answer the human intention, the need. But to allow the new era of search to work for your brand (or rather vice versa) you need to know how to implement it well and this is still well in the realm of the technical SEO practitioner. Indeed many of todays SEO superstars have been banging the Rich Snippets drum for years.

Online marketing has come of age. Talk to ThinkSearch to find out how to embrace the new world of understanding semantics, marking up your web pages correctly, and delivering content strategy that still gets you all those visits and that value from Google.

duelling entities by anosmia

duelling entities by anosmia

More reading: Barbara Starr on Semantic Search, Paul Breummer on Entity Search, Harrison Jones on Hummingbird and B2B marketing.

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