Move to “Semantic” Understanding of Web Pages Favors Organic SEO

By On 29, Jul, 2008 |  In: Search Engine Optimization | Tags: ,  | 0

Look for a resurgence in organic search engine optimization and a move away from SEO “trickery” as search engines move to place more value on what a Web page is about rather than how it is linked to other pages and sites on the Internet. The ideas and information on a page – a Web page’s “content” – are going to matter more and more, rather than the page’s architecture and the links that connect it to the wider Internet, as search engines vie to better “understand” what a Web page is about and rank its relevancy to the end user.

The big push is on to understand the “semantics” of a page, trying to digitally comprehend the keywords and concepts of a Web page’s content and ranking them in their relevance to the end user – the person behind his or her keyboard or phone pad keying in search queries.

The debut of, the newest search engine and would-be challenger to industry leader Google, underscores the shift in how search engines now, and will, search and understand a page’s content. Specifically, the team of world leading search engineers that banded together to build the new Cuil search engine claim not only that Cuil (pronounced “cool”) will index a much bigger portion of the individual pages on the Internet, but that they will emphasize the content on the pages rather than the links on the Internet that point to a specific page. (The link structure pointing to a specific Web page indicates its popularity, and hence the reasoning goes, its relevance to the end user. The number of inbound links is a critical part of industry leader Google’s PageRank methodology.)

“Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics,” according to the new-kid-on-the-search-engine-block, “Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.”

“In addition to looking at the popularity of a Web page,” reports the Wall Street Journal, “Cuil also analyzes the concepts on the page and their relationships – grouping similar results under different menus.” Grouping different results under different concept-specific search result menus implies a much deeper understanding of the concepts and interrelationships on the individual Web page, rather than a mere ranking in terms of a “relevancy” that is determined in large part by a page’s popularity based on its links to other pages.

For businesses engaged in online marketing, the move toward a more “semantic” understanding of their Web page content will mean that their search engine optimization strategies will have to focus more and more on finding an SEO company that will help them produce the quality content that will make their organic search engine optimization strategy a success. Using so-called “ethical” search engine optimization techniques and building relevant pages with quality content and information for the end user will increasingly distinguish companies whose SEO and online marketing campaigns are a long-term success from those who look for the quick-fix and short-term boost in rankings brought about by using SEO techniques that are less organic to artificially boost the relevancy of their pages to their target audience.

You may be able to “game” the search engines for a while, but ultimately you cannot game the end users who always know whether the results a search engine displays are relevant to what it is they are looking for. The ability to “game” the search engines will, of course, decrease as they are better able to, and rely more upon, a semantic understandings of the Web’s content. To the extent that new search engine Cuil is better able to conceptually understand and sort the content of the hundreds of billions of web pages that are on the Internet – a number that grows by several billion each day – they may have a shot at making a dent in goliath Google’s market share.

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