Semantic search is based on algorithms that not only pay attention to the keywords when a user performs a search, but also try to understand the meaning behind those keywords.

In plain English, this means that search is a lot more conversational in nature now than it was not that long ago.

Ultimately, making the search results more semantic was the main idea behind the Google Hummingbird update. And that’s probably one of many reasons why affiliates should pay close attention to what’s going on in the semantic space.

The Challenge

Semantic search is actually a very complex problem to solve by modern search engines. The same keywords can have completely different meanings depending from where, when, and by whom they were used.

For example, if you’re searching for “pizza” from your home then you’re most likely interested in recipes. If you do the same search from your mobile device, you’re probably looking for the nearest joint to eat your lunch at.

Another example, searching for “cheap flights to Miami on Monday” can mean a dozen of different things. Just to name a few:

  • If the search is done from Phoenix then the user is clearly interested in Phoenix-to-Miami flight. When done from Orlando, it’s Orlando-to-Miami.
  • Using words like “Monday” is an example of how humans understand dates, but a machine needs to translate this into an exact calendar date.
  • Also, what does “cheap” mean? It’s surely not about the keyword “cheap” appearing somewhere on the airline page, but more about the flight being actually cheap.

In this pool of variables, semantic search tries to accurately predict the user’s intent and deliver the best results possible.

What This Means for Affiliates

Keyword-centered SEO is simply a dying breed.

The web is no longer about keywords. It’s about answers. And if you want your affiliate site to rank well for a lot of questions then you need to indeed focus on providing answers.

This is much easier said than done, though.

In part, semantic web is constructed around keywords, but they are not be all end all. Apart from using certain keywords and building links for them, you also need to build a specific context on your site.

This is something we’re seeing in the e-commerce space. If you’ve ever tried doing any business in that space, you know that there are certain keywords that are impossible to rank if your site isn’t an e-commerce store. The reason for that is because Google expects to see the e-commerce context on your site.

Taking care of the context is probably what the on-page SEO of 2014 will be about. If you’re looking for a direction to go in with all this, try answering the following question: “What would Google expect to see on a page talking about {the problem at hand} and catering to {your audience}?

Tags: , , , ,

Related posts: