How Search Engine Technology Is Changing the Way We Think About SEO

November 19, 2014   //   SEO, , , , , , , ,

With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to get that person on your list who has everything. When I am stumped, my go-to gift is always the latest and greatest gadget. What do I suggest this year? Read my blog to learn more.

If you really want to go all out this holiday season, check out the new Google Glass. Okay – so $1,500 is a lot to spend on eyewear, but you can guarantee that the person receiving this gift has never experienced anything quite like it. Among Google Glass’ many incredible features, the one most relevant to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is its ability to listen to your request and not only respond with an answer aloud, but also display a visual. For example, if you’re looking for a place to eat, Google Glass will show step-by-step directions. You can also see an image of the restaurant, its reviews and even visit the website if you’d like. However this gets a little tricky when you’re browsing through a website in the corner of your lens!

Certainly Google Glass has a long way to go before becoming mainstream. However, it is a huge step forward in the humanization of technology – and a good indication of where search technology is headed.

In today’s fast-paced world, technology is frequently changing the way people find and share information. In the case of our clients, technology changes the way potential customers find critical information about their business. As search technology continues to humanize – first with the smartphone, then voice-detection and now wearable search displays, we need to constantly change the way we think about SEO.

SEO for the Future

While we may not be at the point yet where we need to create websites that fit into a person’s peripheral vision, the days of viewing a website on smaller screens such as a smartphone or tablet are here – and have been here for a while. Whether you’re on the bus or at the bar, it’s easy to see that everyone is attached to their mobile device. Not surprisingly, it is expected that by 2015, searches via a mobile device will surpass those on a desktop. If your website doesn’t already have a responsive mobile-friendly design, now is the time to get one.

Adapting to new technology does not end with the look and feel of your site. As Google becomes more sophisticated, you’ll notice that many of your searches are generating engaging displays in the search engine results page (SERP). These displays also take shape in mobile phones, tablets and Google Glass.

To put this into real-world context, say for example you are searching for “bulls” in Google. The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will render much more than simply a long list of links. In my case, Google knows that I live in Chicago and my search history tells it that I’m interested in sports, therefore it has a pretty good understanding of my intent and will show me results for the “Chicago Bulls” basketball team rather than information about “bulls” – the animal. And I’m not just given a link to the Chicago Bulls official homepage, I’m shown the Bulls logo, a quick description about the team, its arena location, coach, mascot and division. I can even scroll through the team’s roster and game schedule. At a glance, I have access to pretty much all of the answers I need before I even click into a website. This is a great example of how Google is evolving from being a “search engine” into an “answer engine.”

SEO Search Technology Chicago Bulls

Semantic Search for Your Business

The very definition of “semantic” is finding meaning in language or logic. In the example above, the search engine knows what I’m thinking about and the information I’m seeking simply from the word “bulls.” Today’s search engines can not only recognize keywords, they can actually understand the meaning behind them. So what does this mean for your digital marketing or even business strategy? It means that keywords alone simply won’t cut it. Optimizing your website for today’s search technology means understanding the way search engines are categorizing and indexing information on your site, as well as understanding your customer and the types of questions and topics they are most interested in.

Perhaps one of the most untapped resources of today’s website optimization is semantic markup. This is essentially HTML that can be used on the back-end of your website to reinforce the meaning of information and help search engines understand what your website is about. It can increase the chances that information from your website will be highlighted in SERP via knowledge graphs, attracting greater attention and click-throughs. Although this concept has been around for years, it’s especially significant in today’s world where mobile and voice search are becoming the norm – both of which rely heavily on semantic markup to extract information from the Web.

Although we cannot predict where search technology will be in the future, we are able to identify strong trends towards semantic technology currently being deployed by search engines, laying the groundwork for what’s to come. Perhaps one day, we’ll be talking aloud to pieces of equipment strapped to our heads; maybe that piece of equipment will transform from “Google Glass” to “Google Contacts.” I can’t say for certain what will happen, all I know is that my website will be ready for it!

If you want to learn more about responsive websites and semantic markup, or are interested in SEO for your business, please join us for our next complimentary Chicagoland Web Design, SEO & Digital Marketing Strategy event.

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