Conversational Search Revisited
The release of the Google Hummingbird algorithm in 2013 has been a major development in search engine land. Among the other vital changes carried by the Hummingbird, the incorporation of conversational search parameters in SEO has emerged as a critical ranking success driver.
I wrote a blog (Google conversational search – a challenge to SEO?), during December 2013 after finding that Hummingbird and the conversational search are going to change the way SEO professionals doing over a decade and how they need to change immediately. Conversational or semantic search focuses on working out a system responding to ‘natural queries’ to deliver the best answer, and this made SEOs revise their content strategy. The importance of high-quality content has been increasing like never before.
In all these years of operation, Google already has a rich repository of billions of search templates to set out patterns of natural semantics. To give a sense of what Google has collected over years from sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the World Factbook by CIA, it has developed a Knowledge Graph that contains 570 million objects and close to 18 billion pieces of information and relationship between different objects. All this leads to providing sense or context behind the meaning of search query. To put it more effectively, the new algorithm update from Google now looks to account for each and every word in the query and not just the keyword itself. This helps to better understand the context and meaning behind the query and deliver results accordingly.
Why conversational search?
Let’s look at the two most distinguishable reasons why conversational search has emerged as the next big thing in SEO – these are shifting user preferences and evolving technologies.
- User Preferences – With the advent of tablets and smartphones, the devices being used to access the Internet became smaller and smaller. While typing in queries, it became more and more difficult to type in a search query. Hence users were increasingly moving towards other ways of searching without having to type to search for information.
- Evolving technologies – Google has updated its algorithm with Hummingbird which now provides support for spoken word search. The presence of Knowledge Graph and information repository makes it possible for Google to understand the relationship between the words spoken into the query and thus yield better results. This also led to the need for good speech and voice apps. In answer to this need, many exciting offerings from different companies have come to the fore – Siri and Cortana are now being increasingly used for the voice-based search.
So while conventional search involved returning results based on individual keywords, conversational search analyse a whole set of words within a sentence (or conversation). Using natural speech technologies, Google looks to mimic human spoken/written sentence to derive better relevance to the answers returned by Google.
Take a small instance – While earlier users typed “Singapore weather”, they got a long list of news, web content, image and several sites that give plenty of information and advice on Singapore weather. But with conversational search, by employing articles, conjunctions or pronouns, users might type in a query called “Should I take my Umbrella today” and the result would be more specific such as “You do not require taking an Umbrella Today”.
How to handle conversational search in your website?
Employing the understanding into practice, the search engine behemoth is evolving constantly to become increasingly organic. Optimizers need to interpret the fine tuning of searching to develop effective keyword strategies. Voice based search facilities such as Google Now, Cortana, and Siri further exemplifies the necessity to figure how semantics search works.
The key challenge, as it has always been so, is the lack of official guidelines whatsoever. In keeping things organic, Google did not even make much of a formal announcement on releasing the most major update till date. There had been no great fanfare about the Hummingbird except in blog posts and discussions in the SEO niche. Hence for our readers, we bring together some important tips to help optimize content keyword strategies in putting semantics SEO to practice.
The keywords that come naturally: Optimizers need to think constantly on the naturalness of queries. Do not think like a marketer following a systematic approach. Instead, one needs to think like a general user looking for information. Based on this perspective, you have to develop a set of key phrases called “long tail keywords”.
Decode the keywords into categories such as core words, thematic words, and broad phrases. If the search query is about ‘semantic SEO’, it has to be the core phrase. A thematic phrase can be something such as, ‘how organic SEO works’. Broad phrases further incorporate a widened idea encompassing the core concept. In this example, it can be, ‘the latest SEO trends Hummingbird’.
Once you work out the long tail keywords, develop organic content without keyword stuffing and incorporation in the natural flow. In the above example, did you find the above keywords out of the flow? You did not; nevertheless, they still work in optimizing this content to bring this blog up in your search result. Lastly, make sure that you write for human beings. Focusing on people needs over search engine it will also provide a sense of what need to be done to score with semantic search.
Avoid stagnation and over-activity: SEO experts must avoid the perils of both stagnation and over-activity in keyword optimization. The essence of organicity is in its regular rhythm. In SEO, obtaining a position in the first ten results in Google search results is the objective of every webmaster. You have to make sure the SEO efforts are in balance. So, in blogging, you cannot just upload 20 blogs in 2 days and wait for the results to work in your favor. It does not work like that! Instead, spread out the twenty posts over 4 weeks, uploading in an organic pace. One needs to keep working and fine tuning the SEO parameters in a balanced manner, constantly.
The reason we at Macronimous love our work is because in SEO change is the only constant. The guys at Google and Microsoft love keeping our online marketers on high alert with such new and exciting methods. Even with semantic search, our focus has evolved to understand how keywords now match user intent rather than a search need. So while keywords per se are not as effective in delivering high search rankings, we make sure to craft content using targeted and varied keywords as this helps Google understand if the site aligns with user’s information needs.
Are you looking for an SEO company which takes care of your website marketing with great care? If Yes, We are Macronimous serve our globe clients from India with a passion for learning, and this is why we share too. 🙂 You can see more details from our SEO business service page.