Semantic, as a term, seems to be currently destined to reside at the exact opposite of the understanding scale to the word “social” with hardly anyone knowing what it means. This in itself is ironic seeing how the term “semantic” actually means meaning.
Yet the semantic web that Google is building through the introduction of semantic search is predicated on the social activity of each one of us (what Google calls “the social signal”). The reason social activity is so important is that it is used as a filter to create an additional layer of verification of content on the web. Put more simply, the best content, the most desirable product, the most impeccable service in the world, is largely inert as far as Google's semantic search is concerned if it has not been interacted with by people who have commented, shared, reshared, “Liked” and +1’ed it. Search engines in general and Google search in particular use social interaction and the complex web of relationships between people and online content to understand the importance of a web page and rank it accordingly.
SEO and Marketing Change Forever
The semantic web changes not just traditional search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, but also traditional marketing ones, too. The latest Comscore report on Search Engine Rankings placed Google’s growth in search with six straight months of positive gains (year-on-year) with the last four being in the double digits. This does not mean that there are more people using search. It is more likely that the existing search users are making more use of search to find what they want. It also signifies that there is now a maturation in the way we view digital, with many of us having full-fledged digital lives. Search is crucial then to getting the information we want, when we want it.
Because content needs to be shared socially in order for its importance to be understood and then be indexed properly in a semantic web, it also becomes harder to create websites that tick all the traditional SEO boxes and rise automatically in search without really deserving to. The combating of spam and the rise of quality content designed to help the end-user has been a Google intention from the very beginning. It is only with the addition of the social filter that it is actually beginning to deliver the results intended.
The semantic web is not being announced. There is no “semantic web” moment when a switch will be flipped. It is happening now, incrementally. Every day. It’s being felt in the way search results are changing. The way traditional marketing does not quite work so much anymore. It will affect the way we work online as well as offline. It will affect the way social interactions take place. In short it will change everything and usher a brand new age.