An upcoming update to Google's search offering will expand on the concept of "semantic search," a technology that focuses on the meaning of words in order to match queries with relevant content and pieces of information.
The update to semantic search will support Google's current keyword-search technology, and will be powered by its Knowledge Graph, according to Mashable. The Knowledge Graph is a large database of "entities," or information on people, places and things, that Google has collected in the last couple of years. Google's index of entities currently stands at more than 200 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
For PR practitioners, there are several things to keep in mind, especially in terms of SEO:
Semantic search could affect your Web sites’ page hits. Using the aforementioned database of entities, Google will look to provide more information and facts at the top of the search results page, in many cases reducing the need for users to visit a Web site to access such information.
It could affect your Web sites’ page rank. Semantic search is not just about placing keywords in the right spots. The content on the page will have to be relevant to the search query. Google is more interested in the meaning behind the search query terms. Will the content on your page effectively answer or suit what the user is looking for?
It’s also an opportunity to reach and engage with more users. The WSJ reports that one of the reasons Google is making this change is to keep users on its site. This means that there may not only be more digital real estate and inventory on which relevant ads can be placed and delivered to users, but also more of an opportunity to reach interested users with content related to what they are looking for.
Google’s search engine market share stands at 66.4%, according to February 2012 data from comScore. It’s a testament to how important the search engine has become in not only how users look for information and content, but how brands deliver content to them. With such an update on the horizon, PR pros will have to be as mindful as ever in how they frame the way they want to reach and engage users online through search.
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