The nature of search has evolved from its original keyword orientation, to a more sophisticated intuitive understanding in order to meet the user’s search requirements. Known as Semantic search, this new ‘intuitive’ approach is all about understanding the meaning behind the search. Meaning is derived from the context of the user’s previous searches while zooming in on the unique aspect or intent of the particular search question in order to provide tailored search results.
The motivation behind Semantic search is to provide the best possible search results which will satisfy the user’s needs, answering and resolving questions.
The word semantic is defined as the” study of meaning’, “the meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning of a word, sign, sentence etc.”
Semantic search is a natural evolution of search, as engines become more intelligent, capable of going beyond merely identifying characters in a word to actually understanding concepts which the words represent. The other half of this evolution is the searcher who has become more adept at refining search requests.
This enables a search engine to understand the meaning behind the keyword phrase in order to provide a more accurate SERP which corresponds to what the searcher is looking for.
Why search engines have changed their focus to semantic search?
- Optimise search experience: Search engines want to optimise a user’s search experience. Semantic search enables a search engine like Google to give access to top quality content by providing the most relevant results to a user’s search request.
- Changes in the role and significance of the keyword: Keywords started off as the structure and basic architecture of content. Although still significant, the role of keywords has transformed to serving as a context for the content.
- Google Algorithm: Google’s algorithm has had a natural evolution. From matching up keywords with corresponding content to a more intuitive approach, which puts the human (i.e. the person doing the searching) in the centre, replacing the content as the focal point. If content is still king, the searcher is a deity. Additionally, as the searcher has become more familiar with using the internet as a searching platform, the searcher is also thinking more strategically in order to optimise search results.
- Search Engines are becoming more intelligent and can learn: Google is no longer just matching words as single units. Rather search engines understand that words have a context which impacts on the meaning of the word. Characters and words are now understood in a more sophisticated, intelligent way as a concept.
Search is an ever-evolving central feature of accessing information. As semantic search becomes more and more sophisticated with its understanding and ability to anticipate search requests, this in turn impacts on SEO tactics which need to adapt accordingly to facilitate optimal functioning of a website’s content in this new search environment.