Why Your SEO Strategy Needs to Keep Pace with Google’s Help Desk Mentality

This past weekend, as I was drinking my morning cup of Joe—I got inspired to see what Google would return if I searched the term “coffee”.  (Side note: no need to remind me how much of a geek I am.)

dog-coffeeMy search results included a definition of coffee.  Jeez, Google—Really?  I’d think with all of the personal data you’ve collected on me, you’d know that I’m smart enough to know what coffee is.  Or maybe I’m not as smart as I think.  I’ve digressed…

Also appearing was a local carousel of places to get coffee near my house, news for coffee and a few “in-depth articles” related to the all-mighty bean.

“Coffee” in itself is a pretty ambiguous search term.   What about coffee did I want to know?  Was I looking to find a local coffee shop?  Was I looking for markets that sell packages of coffee?  Was I looking for health information about coffee?  How can we expect Google, or any search engine for that matter, to understand the intent of a query and return a relevant search result?

Well, that’s exactly what Google, Bing and Yahoo are trying to solve across the board.  They want to create an engine that responds less to the explicit meaning of the query and more to the implicit.

Over the years, Google and other engines have done their best to get better at it.  In the image below, when I search “Chevy Chase”, Google attempts to help me refine my intent.

google disambiguation

This phenomenon is known as semantic search, and we’re fast approaching a time when search engines will be able to provide us with richer and more relevant information and results in the SERPS.

Even more ambitious than semantic search, Google is attempting to answer our queries before we even ask.  A Google search for “Who is Guy Fieri?” not only returns a lot of valuable information in its knowledge graph on the right-hand side, but it gives the option to subscribe and get updates via Google Now.

disambiguation knowledge graph

This means that in the future, I may not have to search for Guy Fieri, because I’ll be receiving updates on my mobile device.  Ain’t it grand?  In an era where people are waving the red flag at SEO, I’m proud to embrace it and be one of the few that moves in the same direction as the search engines.

My friends, those that stick with SEO and continue to evolve alongside search engines will be an incredibly valuable group of people. Again, I’ve digressed.

Part of my earned media role at Deluxe involves optimizing massive e-commerce sites and positioning them well for future success.  Knowing that the major engines are moving towards semantic search, I’ve been carrying the torch of semantic optimization both here at Deluxe, at conferences, and in my writing.

Thanks to our awesome IT team, here are a few of the things our SEO team has implemented so far:

  • Google Publisher:  We’ve dropped the Google + Publisher code on our website as appropriate and Google has validated our site’s connection to our Google + page.
  • Schema product mark-up:  Our IT team took our schema product requirements and incorporated them into our product page templates.  This allows the search engines to get a better understanding of each of our products.
  • Facebook OpenGraph Tag Optimization:  Since our Web pages are shared, we’ve optimized our sites’ Facebook OG: meta-data that ensures the content of our pages is well represented.

Where we’re going in the future:

  • Twitter Cards:  Soon we will have Twitter meta-data on our Web pages, ensuring our Tweets are optimized and include as much relevant content as possible.
  • sameAs:  This little beautiful HTML tag will help us disambiguate our products and services for search engines.
  • Co-Referencing:  In our content, where appropriate, we will appropriately link out to entity pages to further disambiguate our products and services.

The most important point here is that I have executive level buy-in on the importance of future-proofing our SEO strategy at Deluxe.  I’ve spent a ton of time evangelizing the future of search across the entire enterprise—from the CEO down, and it has paid off.  I highly recommend you do the same.

This past Halloween Eve, I presented a session entitled, “Spooky Good Technical SEO for E-Commerce Sites”.  If you’d like more information on the subject matter presented in this blog post, click on the link above and check out the slides.


Banner image from quixote

  • Great tips here. I agree! As SEO students, it’s vital we evolve alongside the engines and try to anticipate what they will offer next.

    So Tweets are officially indexed if their shown in a widget on a site?

  • Spook SEO

    Thumbs up! Great Ideas! As an SEO we are ought to study and analyze the ever changing environment of search engine algorithm and we must formulate ideas and ways to counterpart their action. I believe we SEO people stand as the bridge towards clients website ranking success against SE algorithm. By the way using our own codings for search engine to better understand our page will never cause a problem against them?