Semantic search drives expanded outreach to potential clients

30 second summary:

  • Semantic search enables retailers to reach a wider audience of potential consumers who are outside of their traditional targeting approach.
  • For semantic search to be effective, websites must provide a rich landscape of relevant content for context.
  • In order to effectively influence semantic search, the right tools and technologies are required to produce results.

Search is an obvious, integral aspect of any online marketing. However, seasoned marketers look beyond the traditional lexical search function, where the search engine looks for exact matches to a query or search term and responds with a text tag to a specific set of keywords in order to also examine the feasibility of the semantic search. Taking into account intentions and contextual meanings broadens the search and is beneficial for retailers trying to reach audiences who may not know exactly what they want but are interested in starting a buying journey.

Take search to the next level

Using retargeting and social ads is effective in reaching a group of potential consumers based on your opinion of your customer base and your established profiles. You need to be visible in this area to win this business. However, reaching out to those who are likely to match your traditional personalities is not enough. It’s important to think both terms broader and more refined by making them visible to those who are interested in your offerings but may not yet know anything about your product or brand.

Paid search is a proven way to reach customers who have already raised their hands to say they are interested in your offers. It is the digital advertising channel that makes sure you appear in the right place to meet customers where they are already looking. This is great if you sell lawn mowers or boat lifts and someone is looking for a specific type or brand of lawn mower or boat lift. However, what if a customer only has a vague idea and is not looking for a specific product or service? Semantic search takes paid search to a new level by taking into account both the contextual meaning and the intent behind the search. It uses machine learning to better understand what a customer is looking for and apply an answer appropriately.

So that the semantic search works

To influence semantic search, you need to have up-to-date content with all your alt tags and image tags that are current and relevant to the specific audiences you are trying to reach. The algorithms within the search are constantly changing. To stay in the game, you need to offer enough relevant content to provide the surrounding context. Everyone knows about SEO, but you need enough substance to rank up. For semantic search to be effective, there must be enough content to support the full meaning of the concepts.

This content ranges from localized landing pages and website experiences to specific branded pages on a retailer’s website. It contains important product descriptions, promotional information and information about local dealers. Regardless of whether it is a product catalog page, a promo page, or a simple conversion landing page, all content is fed into the algorithms to give the website a fair chance of ranking in a search.

Moving from search to viable consumer actions

If you are a retailer selling a range of products, directing a potential customer to the correct information is important. A dealer that sells lawn equipment, power tools, and hardware may show up when someone searches for mowers. The key, however, is to target that request to specific brand and product information in your store. The customer may only know that they want to learn about lawn equipment. Semantic search context can help you point it to the section of your website with information about a particular brand of mower that you want to sell.

By responding to a prospect’s search with relevant, contextual information, you streamline the search process and put it on a more focused conversion path to purchase. From the retailer’s perspective, there is more actionable information on how to get a sustainable sales edge. This consumer has informed the retailer of a valid interest, now the retailer can track and complete a sale.

By using semantic search capabilities, a retailer provides a potential customer with more tangible and relevant information about a product of interest, and the retailer has a clear path to an already interested buyer for a particular product. The consumer learns what he wants to find without first having specific product knowledge, and the retailer has direct access to an interested customer.

Nikki Vegenski is Chief Strategy Officer at PowerChord.

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