Today I am going to put my web developer hat on and discuss some key habits that business owners must to adopt to be successful in the new world of Web 3.0 and Semantic Search.
What is Web 3.0?
Initially websites were static sources of one-way information. Following the burst of the .com bubble in the late 90s,at along came Web 2.0 where web sites became interactive, social platforms with user generated content. Web 3.0 is the term used to describe the next generation of the internet - the Semantic Web. Although there are no precise dates for these evolutions in the web, we are now coming into the age of the Semantic Web.
What is the Semantic Web?
The Semantic Web is a place where search engines can read the web more as humans, build a better understanding of your website, and as far as we are concerned in this post, can make better judgement on the quality of your website.
The Semantic Web, is orientated real people and is a place where real relationships, authority, influence and trust will take priority. And please take a moment to reflect on this - none of these qualities can be invented or faked, and this is why the web is now going to become more about real people. This is also why I am now encouraging website owners to lease more closely with their content makers (see below).
If you are interested in the Semantic Web, I recommend tracking down, circling or following two on my fellow Brits, Martin Shervington and David Amerland - leaders in the Semantics field. Be sure sign up for their excellent free tutorials.
Why is Semantic Search so important?
As search engines can better understand the quality of your website, then they can make a better judgement on whether your website should be included in search results. A successful website of the past, may not make the cut it in the world of semantic search. In this article I am going to discuss important changes a business website owners need to make to make a successful transition into the world of Web 3.0 and Semantic Search.
Why is Semantic Search changing how we do things?
In a nutshell:
- People no longer search for information by typing a keyword into Google. Search has evolved, and people are now typing lengthy questions into Google known as long-tail queries when searching. As Google has often mentioned, long-tail are a very big proportion of the web search traffic (somewhere between 30% and 50%). The days of optimising web pages by keyword are gone and many web designers, website owners and SEO's need to change their game for success in the Semantic World.
- Google is working hard to interpret the quality of your website using a massive amount of information, as varied as length of your articles, the amount of time people spend on your website, influence as well as common metrics such as on page optimisation, bounce rate and how well your website is made (click here to put your website through our free website healthcheck). Websites with the highest quality information and answers to questions within their field will get to the top of search.
- Cheap, quick-win tactics such as keyword stuffing, buying backlinks and creating low quality guest blogs no longer work and can even incur ranking penalties on your website. In the Semantic Web, your authority, influence and trust are key metrics, and what will ultimately bring you success.
- Major search engines have agreed on a standard schema.org markup to create enhanced displays in search engine results pages (SERPs). Successful websites are using schema to highlight key information such as people, places, products, ratings, reviews to increase their own brand and product visibility in search.
Habits of successful website owners in the new world of Semantic Search
Time for the interesting and actionable bit. For some people change can be hard, for others it comes naturally. Either way, semantic search is here, and if you want your business and website to be successful in the future, here are the new habits that you as the business owner must adopt:
1. Create a closer Business - Web Agency relationship
The working relationship between business owners and the web agency (be it a Web Designer, SEO or Content Creator) simply has to come closer with a regular exchange of information and expertise.
To produce and maintain a semantic search friendly website, your site must become the fountain of knowledge on your products, services and your niche. Your site is going to need excellent, industry leading content (guides, resources, tools, articles, videos and photos) that all other websites will look up to, link to and use.
With rare exceptions, there is a limit to even what a well-informed content writer can know about your individual products and services. If your website is really going to cut it in the semantic world, your website will need to contain the unique gems of knowledge and input that only people working from within your business on a daily basis can have.
Only you as the business owner truly know your products, and have the benefit of hearing daily client feedback: and this is exactly the sort of information that needs to filter through to your website to set you apart from competitors. Web Designers, Content Writers and SEOs cannot read your mind, they are probably not industry insiders, and they certainly do not have a magic wand to invent genuine unique content of the required depths to cut it in a Semantic world. Only you as the business owner has the power to make that happen.
2. Always ask satisfied clients for reviews
Make it a habit to always always always ask satisfied clients to provide a 5 minute unbiased review of your products. Your web agency will rarely if ever have contact with your clients and so it is down to you as the business owner to start asking for reviews as part of your daily routine running a website in a semantic world.
Key places to build up your reviews are Google Local, Bing for Business, Yelp, and also on your website if you have product feedback / star rating or a commenting system. If you are in tourism, cultivating a positive portfolio of reviews on websites like Trip Advisor is essential.Why are reviews good in the semantic web?
Reviews have always been good for your website. However, search engines are increasingly returning lists of websites registered on geo-local websites such as those listed above. To compete you need to be on that list and preferably with a healthy list of glowing 5 star reviews.
We advise clients to start by getting 5 reviews on Google Local. Once you pass 5, Google will start to return your star rating in search results pages (SERPs), which will begin to set you apart from competitors. Once you have 5 or 10 reviews here, switch to the next review website on your list of priorities and look to build a healthy review profile here. If you manage a review a day, that is 365 in a year, and this will seriously start to set you apart from your competitors.
A word of warning - never fake reviews! Like the rest of the Web 3.0, only genuine reviews from satisfied clients offer a sustainable strategy and will work in the long run. Here is some good guidelines on Moz that can hep you set up a customer-product review strategy.
3. Get involved in Google Plus to build your AuthorRank
It is perfectly OK to hire a marketing company to run your social media profiles on a daily basis. You will benefit from their expertise and influence within in the social arena and reduce the workload on yourself. However, Google Plus (the social network form Google), and in particular, your AuthorRank, do need a little more of your attention.
If you are serious about your online authority and personal branding then it is important that you have insights into the running of your personal and business Google Plus pages. As the Semantic Web develops, your AuthorRank may well become an important factor in how well your website ranks in the future. The only way to build your AuthorRank is by becoming an authority and influencer within your field. Your marketing agency can certainly help you do this, but they cannot be a substitute for the real you.
For a truly personal Google Plus profile, you will have to engage with other business leaders and experts within your niche - again, something you as the website owner and true authority on your business will have to do yourself to some extent.
Whilst the Web Agency can still run your social channels, you can seriously help them out by agreeing to do interviews, sitting down and writing articles together and making a habit of regularly divulging interesting or breaking information directly to them to publish on your behalf.
4. Start building long-term online goals
As a business looking to increase your online visibility, your goals now need to be about creating and maintaining a high quality, information rich website that will gradually gain authority before eventually ballooning to the top of search over a period of years rather than months. Then, just as a super tanker takes a giant distance to slow down, your site will eventually have great momentum it deserves and you will reap the rewards.
Semantic web is all about producing quality content, whilst building trust and authority within your niche. This does not come overnight and is the result of continuous hard work and dedication over a long period of time. Gone are the days of keyword optimisation and spamming thousands of links on to tolerant websites. The road to online success has few shortcuts.
For some people change can be hard, for others it comes naturally. Whether you like it or not, Semantic Search is here, and if you want your business to be successful online in the future, it is time to change your habits.
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