Semantic Search Explained
When I was growing up, last century, buying or renting a house in the laid-back city of Brisbane was a relatively straightforward, low-key affair. You asked your pals who was the Realtor in their community and you visited their office sometime in the week.
There were two implicit statements in this approach that, with time, have been completely lost. First that the Realtor was the most trustworthy person to do business with in the community when it came to buying or renting property, they were the ones with all the knowledge, expertise and vested interest.
They knew the community inside out, knew their business and worked to build up their reputation. Second that the Realtor’s interests and yours were roughly aligned. Yes, they wanted to make money, but they were not out to rip you off and as long as you understood that then the entire relational exchange was a little like two friends agreeing on a deal.
In retrospect it all sounds naively rustic, counter-intuitive to how we expect the world to run today when every deal needs to be inspected from every side and even then there is a good chance that something had been missed. Trust and alignment of interests seem to be notions that belong to a bygone century, not our fast-paced, digitally-enabled world.
Yet that’s where we’re headed towards in the 3.0 phase of the web that’s presided over by Google’s semantic search. As search gradually transits from an engine that provides probably answers to a search query that we then have to go through individually, ourselves, to one that provides answers, trust becomes a key component.
To work semantic search needs trust. It needs our trust in the veracity of the results it gives us and it needs, itself, to be able to work out the trustworthiness of the answers it provides. So a search, for instance, using Google Voice on mobile for “the best Realtor in Hopkinton” should produce a handful of choices that don’t just happen to be Realtors but are actually “the best”.
The way Google’s semantic search does that requires activities on its part that entail such complicated concepts as “entity extraction”, “relational identification”, specific “data types”, “strings”, “alphabet sets”, and “arrays”. The end result however is that when it provides an answer that answer is trustworthy and for the Realtor using search to get prospects that’s pure gold.
Disregarding all the technicalities of this new search the question from a Realtor’s point of view is what does one have to do to make the “trustworthy” list? The answer to that is much easier to get a fix on than the mathematics of semantic search:
Semantic Search For Real Estate
1. Establish Yourself. Not all Realtors are equal. Some specialize in rentals and others in high-end properties. Some will only deal with residential properties and others will focus on business properties. Your digital presence, anywhere, has to make this crystal clear.
2. Tell Google where you are. If you post content about Houston and happen to be active in Philadelphia you’re not really helping Google understand where you are no matter what you say. There are a number of ways to establish location including using Google Local for Business, your Google+ profile, your Google+ Page, your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog and every digital presence you have which permits you to establish your location.
A good example of what a Realtor can do to establish trust within their community and surrounding area is to create a community page that establishes their expertise. Check out this community page that covers Shrewsbury Massachusetts Real Estate, schools, demographics and other town data that a perspective buyer or seller may be interested in. Would you not agree that a page like this builds trust and expertise surrounding the town of Shrewsbury MA? If you are a Realtor this is one example of how you can build your credibility.
3. Tell Google what you do. If you’re buying and selling golf courses but only blog about the daily life of a Realtor you’re making it really hard for Google to establish your expertise. By all means write about your daily woes but also write about why not every golf course is a sound investment, for instance. How one goes about getting the finance necessary for buying a golf course and what are the signs that a golf course is a good investment.
4. Tell the world what you do. Don’t just write. In the age of connectivity time is critical and no one has a lot of it to spend on reading all the time. Videos, Gifs, pictures and Tweets, all form a rich tapestry of content that helps create a more granular picture of who you are and what you do.
5. Connect the dots. The semantic web is social. The sharing of your content across social networks, the connectivity you make between the people you meet and the content you share, all form part of a complex matrix where what you share, who you are and you do become part of a very detailed picture.
All of this of course presupposes two things (again). First that you have a very carefully worked out content creation strategy that allows you to slice-and-dice your ‘message’ and inject it into the content you create. Secondly that Google’s semantic search is good enough to piece it back altogether.
Google is getting there with the second. To win in the semantic web you’d better make sure you’re there with the first. Keep in mind while the example of semanti search here is a real estate agent, this works the same whether you are a lawyer, plumber, or other industry.
The real estate article above was written by David Amerland who is one of the foremost experts on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’.
His books on online marketing, SEO and the social media revolution have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build successful online businesses. When he is not busy writing he advises companies and start ups on social media strategy and gives talks about the social media revolution on the web.
He maintains his own blog at http://helpmyseo.com where you can find practical SEO and social media advice and spends more time online than is probably healthy.
You can follow both David Amerland on Google Plus and Bill Gassett on Google Plus where you will find both using this great social media tool to create relationship with others and share content worth reading. We both hope to see you there!