Optimizing for Semantics

Optimizing for Semantics

By Alex Skorohodov

Great Job! You've developed your web site and it's now showing up on that first page for Yahoo and Google! Is this it? Now you can wait and watch the leads flow in, right! This may not be enough. Your site can sit in the top tiers of search engine results with your site key-phrases and lose all your clicks throughs to the site just below you. To Optimize your site for placement on Google or Yahoo means far more than simply placing high for a keyword search.

When you're on top if should only be viewed as an opportunity to get a visitor. Not your end goal. You may get a few accidental non qualified click-throughs just by being there, but a ranking is not the only factor in determining how much quality exposure you will be achieving. There are also other aspects of SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION in the works here too.

There are a few things that will keep a potential site visitor looking right past your results. Searchers first will often have more on their minds than a few key phrases. Individuals will have any number of reasons to why they are searching, which you need to help appeal to. Search engines are not geared to know why site visitors are looking, so you will have to just help your searchers find you.

The second thing that promotes a site visitor to scanning past entries and moving onto ones with lower rank is that they will not read every word of description. They'll scan titles. If a title seems promising, they'll then scan for a phrase or word that pops out of the description. After being mis led too most times by high-ranking non relevant sites and link farm directories, web searchers with more than a few days of experience are going to be sifting through results similarly.

This is where most black-hat SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATIONs fail. This is where not optimizing your page means failure. Not only does your page have to return a legible listing in the Search engine results pages, but you have to be fairly certain it will really initiate interest in somebody who is searching your site. This idea has been loosely termed "semantic mapping."

The idea behind "search semantics" or "semantic mapping" is all based on the idea that a individual person browsing the web is not an ignorant clicker. They have entered your keyword or phrase but may not be interested in your page. There is an underlying concept behind the words and phrases the individual surfer chose which is more than those words can actually express.

Semantics , The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form , can prove to be a very good friend to a quality SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION campaign. After all, search engines are textual programs. Their ability to judge context and meaning in the items they index is severely limited. Your job as a SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION specialist is to overcome these barriers.

To make up for the shortcomings in search engines, a responsible SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION has to comprehend how sites will appear to individual searchers. Enquiro, an eye tracking study raised questions about how site visitors view search results . Google's "golden triangle," is derived from the report. It shows that site visitors view the full width of search results at the top of the page, then they scan down the left side of the page.

The scanning follows an F pattern, moving down the left of the page and shooting over to the right if something catches their eye. As they get lower down the page, it takes a bit more help to get their eyes over to the right of the page. This is how the lower arms of the F are formed.

Search engine consumers in the study moved their eyes quickly between results and used their peripheral vision to notice words and phrases appealing to them. They did not click top results simply because they were at the top. Likewise, simply because sponsored links were there, surfers did not necessarily even see them.

As you can see optimizing your site for the search engines is wonderful, but useless unless you consider how the page will look to a human being. A search engine is not going to browse your page and buy 500 gadgets a week. Visitors who are attracted to your site result will, though.

Also, you can't always predict exactly what Google, Yahoo or other search engines will pull as the description of your site, but you can control it. Look at your page to find what text search engines see. Look at what would be unappealing to an individual if the search engine randomly cut a few words for the search results.

Also, read through the important parts of your web page where your keywords and phrases appear. Make sure the keywords are in quality context and that the search engine can pull information from before or after them. Never put unrelated ideas near each other without good transition. Remember you're trying to provide quality content for your visitors and the object is to get them to stay on your site. Search engines like Yahoo and Google can't tell one paragraph from the next, and neither will your site visitors whom are checking search results. We'll go into more detail on this later.

The problem we have is that the initial idea of a search is often a whole lot bigger in scale or less defined than what can fit into a small search box .

Searchers are looking to refine their results. If for example I was looking for an idea where to go to entertain a girlfriend I'd type in 'City Entertainment' then I'd refine to my city and view the results. From there I remembered a conversation about my date enjoying our last night on the town and dancing, she even mentioned 'Salsa.' From there I'd refine my results to 'Dance Clubs' and choose the ones that are in my area and add the term 'Salsa'. The term 'entertainment' is too broad and I just scanned over those results, but the ones that had 'Salsa Dance Clubs in Portland ' with good descriptions where the ones I chose.

Keyword dumps or stuffing are very annoying. Keyword stuffing and other obvious over optimization techniques often make web surfers ignore Search engine results pages, because they make no sense. The site may get pushed to the top, but will be seen as less relevant as a site that reached the first page legitimately.

To attract site visitors, you'll need to focus on site ideas to optimize for, and not focus entirely on just keywords for search engine spiders alone. Your ideas will also bring keywords into play naturally. Then search for these keywords and make a list of what you think is marketable and eye catching to convert into sales. You'll need to focus on phrases and terms that stick out within your industry. Keep these keywords and phrases in mind when organizing your site.

Somebody typing "Dancing" is probably eager to dance, but what situation are they in? Obviously, they don't have a specific type of dance in mind. Providing a general description is okay. But when I typed "Salsa Dance Lessons Portland" I received the following results:

Salsa in Portland , Oregon! SalsaPower.com!
Portland Oregon 503-248-4709 Thursday - Saturday, 9 pm lesson , 9:45 pm - 2 am dance . ... Contact above for private lessons . Salsa in Portland , Oregon

Portland , Or
The World's Largest Online Salsa Magazine Click Here for Advertising Rates! ... It is the VERY best club in Portland for Salsa dancing . Saturdays only. ...  

Which one is more click-worthy is obvious. Would you rather start hunting for Magazines about Salsa Dancing after clicking on a general description, or just right to what looks like the desired content?

You want to watch your title on these kinds of pages. Although the title is great for achieving high on search results , it can cause somebody to quickly skip reading your results. This is a balance you have to play with.

There may well be more possibilities for semantic search to cover, but this is a starting point. Suffice it to say that optimizing for search engines means more than looking quality to a machine. It means achieving clicks from actual human beings.


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