Semantic Search Comes to Google and Bing

emantic Search and Web Marketing

Semantic search has come to Google and Bing.  What’s semantic search?  The search engine itself attempts to provide the information that’s sought by the query, instead of providing links to sites that may have the information.   This issue explores semantic search and its meaning for Web marketing.

How It Works

Google provides relevant results from Wikipedia; Bing has an arrangement with Encyclopedia Britannica.  Because Wikipedia is so much larger than Britannica, you’ll see semantic search results for many more topics on Google than Bing.  Studies have shown Britannica to be somewhat more authoritative than Wikipedia, so Bing semantic results will similarly be somewhat more authoritative.  Here’s an example of a Google search for “washington monument” and the result.  You can see the semantic results on the right side of the page.

Why Search Engines Do This

Remember that Google and Bing are businesses.  They make money by selling advertising.  The longer they can keep visitors on the search engine site, the more paid advertising they can sell.  Providing an answer to a query, with more reading as part of search engine results, is a great way to increase the time visitors spend on the search engine site.

What This Means for Web Marketing

This new content on the page reduces the space for organic search results, and you can see that it has displaced paid search results.  However, there is still room to put a few paid search results at the top of the page on the left side.   For another term that has paid advertising, here’s how Google works in the paid ad.
Of course, this change wasn’t made with hard-working Web marketers who seek organic search positions in mind.  It was made according to the search engines’ assessment of their own business interests.  We can still compete for position in organic search results; when a semantic result is returned, our high position won’t do as much for it as it did previously.

The Bottom Line

Search engines are essential for business acquisition if the Web is an important source of business for you.  However, the search engine companies, while they may be happy to take a lot of your money for paid advertising, are not your friends.  Expect them to make business decisions in their interest, not yours.  Pay attention to the constant change in Web marketing, and adapt your strategy as things change.

If you like this newsletter, please check out Web Marketing 101 , our guide to Web marketing.

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