Sit back, take a deep breath, and imagine with me for a moment. Imagine that you could read the minds of anyone with whom you came in contact. You could read their emotions and their motivations. You would know what they wanted to hear and exactly what to say. You would understand what they wanted to achieve. You could take all of your insights and combine that with the person’s surroundings; you would know what they were doing, where they were currently and where there were headed, if they were using a mobile device, and a myriad of other small details. If they asked you a question, you could take all of this information and respond in a way that would perfectly meet their needs at that moment. If for some reason you didn't meet their expectation, you could know that and change your response. Wouldn't this be great if communication worked this way?
The New Reality
You may think this mind-reading reality doesn't exist, however you are somewhat wrong. In the digital world, it is real. More than ever, Google is focused on the use of semantic search; moving beyond keywords to tap into the searcher’s intent. Semantic search is the pursuit of helping respond to both implicit (behavioral or environmental based) and explicit (a typed or voice search) queries based on the meaning behind the queries. It’s the challenge of getting users from a question to an answer with fewer clicks and searches, or in some cases, without a click at all.
With the continual changes Google is making to its search algorithm, search engine optimization (SEO) is increasingly challenging. Therefore, we need to shift toward a content-centric SEO approach. It’s time, in 2014, to develop a solid content strategy and put our efforts into developing unique, high-quality content that provides users with the best experiences across multiple digital platforms. It’s important to create humanized content on every page of your site. Humanized means content is created in the best interest of the customer and presented to them in a way that immediately addresses the appropriate context and intent for every question they are asking within each stage in the buying cycle.
Lets examine the meaning of this:
Note: The following are definitions from dictionary.com
1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect.
2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
1. meaning or significance
Implicit and explicit context
Determining context is one of the most customer-centric tasks we can do. When we do this, we are concerned with how we provide the customer with the best products and services given their location, their mood, their tastes, the time of year, etc. It goes beyond targeting and customization. It's about getting a wider view of the customer. Where is she? What is she doing? What does she want? What's the easiest, most enjoyable way for her to shop? It's also about providing information, tailored to her needs, on how and why our product or service is fit for her.
If you are searching the question: How to change a tire?
The intention of the query holds a unique meaning depending on the device used and current surroundings that leads to a very different answer. Are you on a desktop or on a mobile device?
From a desktop- Google is trying to decipher the question and can observe the user is static. They can assume that most likely this is not an urgent need. The person is likely researching and then at some point soon will be attempting this on their own.
From mobile- Google can assume this has a higher degree of urgency. The person may be stranded on the road and quickly needs roadside assistance, or needs the proper steps to quickly change the tire. We won’t get into Google Plus knowing your address and then comparing your current location with your address. We’ll leave that somewhat creepy conversation for another post.
Now with Google understanding the implicit and explicit intent, they can send the user to the site with the exact contextualized content to make sure that the content provided gets the searcher exactly what they need- the moment it’s needed. This humanizes their experience.
So where do we start?
We need to start with really understanding our audience and gathering all the information to put together buyer profiles (download a free worksheet below). We start to form sample questions that each profile may be asking within each funnel position on multiple devices.
We look at our competitors’ content and we look at the questions our profiles are asking. We find out what profiles our competitors are targeting with content and create a gap analysis. This then provides opportunity for content.
Once we have gathered the questions and identified differentiating content, we can then start to map the information customers need at each marketing touch point, to the site map. This can help define coherent keyword groups that can all be served by the same content. We can then consistently capture the context of the moment with the right communications.
Once the content is mapped, it’s important to make sure structured markup or schema is added to the content assets. By using structured markup, you can help Google and other search engines better understand how your content provides a solution, or a complete answer, to a query now and as it evolves in the future.
Great examples of the future search experience include: Google’s knowledge graph, Instant Answers, Google Now, and local carousel. With these technologies, relevant information is available based on semantic search. Search engines return the right answers, not just a list of links to choose from. Google is looking at rich structured data sources within the web and connecting paths between them in order to come up with an actual answer to a query. Google takes into account a variety of factors like intent, sentiment, freshness, personalization, localization, and many more. Semantic markup helps Google provide more relevant results to users based on the overall meaning behind their search.
As mobile evolves and semantic search becomes a big part of Google’s algorithm, it is now time to develop humanized content as part of your SEO fundamentals. The customer is in charge, and getting in front of them is the biggest challenge. By strategizing every page and creating content visitors need at the time they need it, we can be sure to turn leads into actionable results.
Get started developing your customer content profiles today. Download our free worksheet below!