Semantic Google – Another Blow For SEO?

There’s a lot of reaction online to “news” that Google intends to roll out semantic search results. I first saw it in on the DailyMail website, then the Telegraph. Initially I was suspicious because it seemed like the “reporting” was thin on detail and simply reported what other people were saying. The original story seems to have come from the WSJ.

In a nutshell, Google is probably going to roll out more instant answers in response to questions typed into the search bar. It already does this, to a limited extent. If you type in “8 * 4″ into Google, you’ll see a page showing “32”…

Presumably, the next step is to attempt to parse the meaning of a question and immediately give a specific answer. For example, “what was the score at White Hart Lane last night”?

The reason for this new move seems to be to head-off the use of voice-activated semantic searches done by Siri on Apple’s iPhone4. As Google uses Android, it has some catching up to do in this area. Another clue is the purchase of Powerset by Microsoft in 2008, thereby giving it the potential to do semantic searches at Bing.

But what does this mean to us?

Well, it’s yet another set of keywords that will be “off limits” to webmasters. If Google directly answers the visitor’s question while they’re on Google, meaning they never see a traditional search results page, there’s no chance of a webmaster getting traffic.

What will the impact be?

Who knows how many questions Google will try to answer directly? Whatever the size of the query sub-set, it will be another percentage loss to webmasters. You can add it to all the “universal search” results such as Places, Maps, Shopping, Videos, Brands, News and others that clutter up the organic search results. 

Of course, with 66% of searches online still done at Google, it’s their ball, and their ballpark. If webmasters want free traffic from Google, they have to accept that Google can change the rules as and when they like.

About Neil_Shearing

I've been an Internet Marketer since creating and selling my first ebook in 1997. As a former scientist I like to test money-making ideas, then simplify and share them. Apart from this blog, I can also be found on many social media sites. Click here for a list.
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12 Responses to Semantic Google – Another Blow For SEO?

  1. Mark Dulisse says:

    Now, what Google needs is Apple’s iphone 4s technology where we just talk our question and all the answers come up.

    Google search voice recognition.

  2. Salli says:

    If Google do decide to do this, what’s in it for them? Surely it would be in their interests to provide a list of websites (including paid adverts) rather than simply supplying the answers…going down this route seems to be taking money out of their pockets…

  3. Dennis says:

    Well its time to let Google know what they can do with their bright ideas.

    I allready stopped using Google SE and removed my adsense and all other Google services from my websites over a year ago.

    If more people stand up to the “big G” and delete their Google products and services, They actually have to change things.

    Google depends on her advertisers and without publishers, the advertisers will get a blow, and in the end, it will affect Google.

    Just a thought

  4. Sean Breslin says:

    Wolfram Alpha is the kiddo for that kind of search, Google sounds confused to me, just how many ways can you answer a simple search term?

  5. Dave says:

    All Google cares about is getting the user to the end result as fast as possible, while preferably getting you to click on an ad in the process…

    …I’m not sure how this semantic stuff will affect the people I do SEO for yet, but all content I have written is includes keywords close to but not the same as the target keywords as well. Seems to go OK!!

    At the end of the day – as I tell my clients – you can’t rank for EVERYTHING. Just rank for the things where there’s traffic!!

  6. Fred Holmes says:

    What this all means is that Google, Microsoft and Apple (the 3 major players) are becoming more and more aware of intensifying market pressures which take the form of decreasing revenues for their products. These ‘winnowing’ actions serve two major aims; enhancement of revenue streams and elimination of superfluous sites which offer little in value and serve only as ‘sales’ portals. The results may actually serve to benefit value-based independent purveyors.

  7. Rudy; says:

    It looks like the bullet that Google shot at its foot is almost going to reach it. As Google adds more systems that thwart IM, we will be going to other sources of traffic more and more just as we are doing now.

  8. sumit says:

    Why doesn’t google try and build an alternate web, which hosts only “google”???

  9. Hi Neil,

    From a pure user perspective i got fed up with google a long time ago; i even started to say this on twitter/blogs etc. What annoyed me most was the inability to turn off the stupid auto-complete without resorting to a different URL with webhp?… I also dont like the fact that even when you are not logged in (i never log in for searches) they still show relevenat results; i.e. if i search for vue cinema it knows to show me York at the top of the list as thats whhere i live. I also dont like that i now cannot right click and save a link without getting a long stupid google redirect link instead. If i am writing something its become a pain to find a URL to paste into a document. Also from a pure search perspective its not useful to get 3 or 4 results from the same major players website before something useful is shown.

    The comments on the mail website sum it up really. I found duckduckgo dot com last year and use that for search instead; its not perfect as somethings that should be there are not in results but its refreshing from a user persepective.

    I am seeing a lot of talk of duckduckgo and other search engines lately and i wonder if the market will shift to multi-players again as people vote with their feet.

    In one sense google will not be useful for SEO if it tries to answer things internally; therefore you would assume that over time all results would tend towards paid results; isnt this going back to the 90s? and people like duckduck are trying to recreate the free fast search again?

    You are right Neil if google changes no one can do anything in terms of free traffic if search results are never served up but maybe its time to get ahead of the game and focus on providing answers and working with other search as well.

    As usual Neil, interesting catch.



  10. Byron says:

    Not being very techie, I personally hate all types of manipulation and abuse that enforces up on another, a way of doing anything. But in a real world with nearly every body endeavouring to out perform their competition, what other viable alternatives are there? Cannot all forms of finding and connecting with one another be found and utilised by the actual users, rather than through a search engine as we know it? Is there a far better way to do it as yet not utilised? Or is that just to naive a thought?

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