Tag Archives: semantic

Stop. Google is not a semantic search engine

Is Google a semantic search engine?

A semantic search engine understands each query and presents relevant documents based on this understanding. Google however is not a semantic search engine but it does display elements of a semantic search engine:

  1. “Searches related to” is officially known as semantic similarity and it is designed to guide a searcher towards their search goal
  2. Google AdWords offers a keyword generation which is also closely related to semantic similarity
  3. Computing engineers also analysed Google’s search engine in 2011 and found that several results, or snippets, provide incorrect or non-useful semantic information — including queries who ranked in the top results. Google is therefore not a semantic search engine
Popular semantic search is a good bit away

Semantic technology is not ‘new’. Copyright granted by DullHunk.

Examples of semantic search engines

Sensebot and Sindice are examples of semantic search engines. Here understanding and relationships of keywords are key to producing results. That is not to say that other search engines do not understand queries but they rely on other technologies to do so rather than take a mathematical approach and rank queries based on meaning as supposed to, for example, saving and placing weight on keywords that appear in the title and header (term location in information retrieval). Search engines have just started to get smarter, thus a little semantic, with search, for instance, Google’s Knowledge Graph. But on the whole Google and other search engines are not semantic search engines; they just display elements of semantic search rather than be a complete and whole semantic search engine.

It is impossible to ask [photos of a flower with 5 petals and a yellow vase in the background] so Google is not a semantic search engine because it does not, unlike humans, understand a string of keywords to display relevant results.

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  • Xu, Z. Luo, X. Yu, J. and Xu, W. (2011) Measuring semantic similarity between words by removing noise and redundancy in web snippets. Concurrency and computation: Practice and experience. 23(2011) pp. 2496–2510

Back to basics: What can I do to improve my seo?

There are so many websites offering advice and guidance on how to improve your website’s rankings. This post touches on the basic things you should consider to improve your rankings.

Use a unique title and description
It is surprising how many people avoid using the title tag. Sometimes, in fact very often, people put one word into the title tag, but it should be used in full. What is the subject of this page? How can I say what this page is in one or two short sentences? Use these questions to make full use of the title tag.
Keep the title and description clear, concise and written with an interesting angle. Does the title and description grab a person’s attention? Would a person click through the search engine results page (SERP) and visit this page?
Strictly speaking a title tag is not meta data, or data about data, but search engines do use it. If search engines use it, you should too.
Use proper semantic code
There are lots of websites offering tips on how to write good HTML (semantic code). As a tip, use proper tags. If it’s a paragraph, tag is as a paragraph. Equally so, if it’s a main heading, tag it as a heading 1 tag, a sub heading, tag it as a heading 2 tag….
Think about the page layout. Does your site have an excellent structure? Is it clear? Do you help ‘scanners’ (i.e. include bullet points)? Does your HTML code follow best practices (i.e. do you only use one h1 tag? Followed by h2’s and h3-4s)?
Think about the user of your website
Would you say your site is user friendly? Do you put the user first, followed by seo second?
Search engines are getting clever because they recognise what most of the content is on your site. They do not mine all of it, but they have a fair idea what a webpage is actually about (i.e. term frequency etc). If you have good content, and semantic code relating to this content, you are putting the user at the focus of the site. Search engines like user focused websites.
If you are bored and want something to do, read your own website. Does the writing make sense? Is it easy, be honest, to navigate and read information? Do you ask a question as a heading, for example, and answer it in the body of the text? Is this answer clear? These sorts of questions allow you to start putting the user as the focus of your site.
Images and other ‘hidden’ content
Search engines cannot see pictures. For this reason meta data is important so search engines can read the pictures on your site. Does each image on your site include targeted keywords within the image’s name? Do you use alt text to explain what an image is?

I hope to expand on this post in the near future. I hope it was useful. Why have a great website if no one can find it?!

This post was updated on Sunday, 10th Feb 2013 (20:05) after an experienced visitor commented on my content (and points).