What Can the Semantic Web Do For Marketers?
As Google continues to advance its machine-learning and AI capabilities, the semantic web is becoming more and more integral to SEO. But what can these advancements in the semantic web do for your marketing?
Target Users Based On Search Intent
Finding users looking to make an imminent transaction is the ultimate quest for digital marketers. For a long time the best we could do was grouping users into affinity/interest categories in analytics and PPC bidding platforms. Finding people who were actually looking to make a purchase was beyond the scope of this segmentation.
But now, thanks to Google’s AI/machine-learning RankBrain system, targeting a user based on search intent is something the semantic web can do.
There are three basic types of searches that you can craft your marketing to target:
- Navigational: These users want to get to a website, but don’t know the URL. They’re most likely going to be branded search terms.
- Informational: This is the widest category of the three. These users are looking for information on a topic. However, they could be anywhere in the sales funnel from awareness to research to deciding, so you’ll have to devise a keyword strategy to target each each step.
- Transaction: These users are the moneymakers. They’re actively looking for a page that will allow them to make a purchase, create an account, sign up for an email list, or however you measure your conversions.
Providing pages that match intent to content will optimize your marketing in two directions:
- Search: Informational content will look (and be!) a lot more relevant to informational queries.
- Conversion rate: Even if you’re targeting informational searchers, providing content that matches their intent will make your content more effective and moving users through the sales funnel.
Since semantic content is all about establishing authority on a subject, optimizing your content for semantic search will establish your brand as a leader in that niche. This authority will help you build a name for yourself in even very competitive markets.
- Establishing expertise in a field is a strong selling point to potential customers. They want to buy from someone who knows what he’s talking about.
- Once you’ve established expertise in a field, you have the authority to focus on more competitive parts of the market. For example, becoming an expert on life insurance can allow you to branch out into other financial services such as retirement plans and investment options.
- Once your brand is recognized as a subject matter expert, Google will prefer its web pages over other, less authoritative domains. It makes it more likely your content will appear in the Answer Box.
Google’s rich snippets and Knowledge Graph panels also offer you an opportunity to improve the brand-user interaction, right in the SERP. Optimizing your pages for these rich results to improve your site’s appearance in branded search results.
Here’s the SERP for a search for the car company Ford:
That’s a lot of work the semantic web is doing for Ford there:
- Knowledge Panel – Keep detailed information about your brand up to date.
- Social media profiles – Make sure users can more easily find your presence on social media
- Top news results about Ford – So this isn’t under your control, but optimizing your entity will help Google connect your brand to news stories about it.
- The latest Tweets from the company’s account – Keep your social media efforts front and center by connecting your Twitter account and your brand’s page.
- Local results; in this case nearby Ford dealerships – Optimize your local entities to get into the very valuable local pack.
These rich results are the result of what’s known as search entity optimization. Optimizing your brand’s entity via semantic markup (such as Schema.org) will help you make the most of all these marketing opportunities.
Better Product Feeds
So we’ve talked a lot about what the semantic web can do for marketers in terms of organic search marketing. But what about paid (PPC) marketing?
Yep, the semantic web does that, too.
Using semantic markup online retailers create their product feeds more easily and keep it up to date more efficiently. They can even tap into this technology to automate the process.
Using the semantic web for this is pretty easy:
- First, all add the structured data HTML to your product pages including the name, price, image and description properties.
- Add the Google Merchant Center add-on to your Google Drive (you need a Merchant Center account for this).
- Select Update from website in the add-on to crawl your website and populate the spreadsheet with your product feed data.
- Submit your feed to the Merchant Center via the add-on.
To keep your feed up to date, you can re-crawl your site to update the fields in your feed. Or, turn on automatic item updates to automate the whole thing going forward.
Semantic web technology can also power an important conversion tool on your website: site search.
Around a third of your visitors use site search, and those users tend to convert several percentage points better than the rest. If your site’s product search isn’t returning the most relevant products for a query, you’re turning some of your most important users off from your business.
Incorporating semantic capabilities into your site search will help you return the best products for a user’s need, even if they aren’t 100% clear with their query.
Structure Your Data
So, as you can see, there’s a lot the semantic web can do for your search, brand and product marketing. However, you can also use semantic tools to implement these technologies on your website.
As we mentioned above, one option to optimize your site’s entities so to copy and paste the markup onto your site’s template. But if you have an older site, with lots of content you want to optimize, that’s not really a happy thought. Or feasible. However, thanks to natural language processing tools, you can do this automatically.
WordLift is a WordPress plugin that helps content creators and publishers optimize their articles. Once you add the tool to your WordPress site, all you need to do is copy and paste your content into the editor and let WordLift analyze the text. It will automatically detect the entities in the content and create the markup to link the data back to the entities.
With WordLift, you can link back to entities using open data sources, or you can create a special vocabulary for your site and link to those entities to create your own semantic web
The semantic web is the future of search, SEO and digital marketing. It impacts the way organic, brand and PPC campaigns all work, especially when those channels rely on Google for traffic. Fortunately, there’s a lot the semantic web can do for digital marketers to help you increase your reach, grow your audience, improve your brand recognition and boost conversions and sales.