A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding And Optimizing Semantic Search

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Semantic Search

The rise of AI and sophisticated machine learning capabilities has meant that the digital nomad lifestyle is no longer just a dream. Thanks to the development of powerful APIs, anyone can now effortlessly build a semi-automated sales or support line from the beach. If you’re interested in creating an automated sales funnel serving hyper-relevant content to hungry prospects, you’ve come to the right place. In the following article, we’ll walk you through Semantic Search basics so you can better understand how this powerful AI tool can work for you.

What Is Semantic Search?

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a marketer looking to establish a strategy or an executive tasked with growing a business. Regardless of your role, you’re probably familiar with “content strategy.” For those new to the field, the content strategy involves mapping out a content and marketing plan designed to engage prospective customers and establish brand trust in increasingly fragmented audiences.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, content is abundant – from videos posted to social media to web pages and blog articles. The content creation cycle constantly evolves as marketers experiment with new ideas, platforms, and methodologies to engage with audiences. When it comes to content marketing, success is often measured in terms of engagements – the number of times a piece of content is interacted with (clicked on, watched, etc.). Engagement is an important metric, as it represents the “liveness” of content – the longer a potential customer interacts with your content, the greater your chances of making a conversion (and generating revenue).

How Does Semantic Search Work?

Regarding content strategy, marketers usually turn to humans to annotate and index content. While this approach has been effective over the years, it has shortcomings. Thanks to AI and big data, the role of human curators is slowly diminishing, as machines are better suited to parse through content and spot relevant facts and figures. In the age of Semantic Search, algorithms determine the meaning of content rather than just the words used.

Algorithms like Hummingbird and Elastic AI can parse through content to find specific keywords and then connect these keywords to highly relevant content (based on what a user was looking for). As a marketer, you can harness Semantic Search’s power to surface content relevant to a user’s interests.

Why Should You Care About Semantic Search?

The ability of Semantic Search to automate keyword-based content analysis and distribution is a powerful tool for marketers. Thanks to the rise of semantic search, marketing has shifted from “just getting the content out there” to engaging with users through content.

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Content marketing aims to attract, educate, and motivate users to act or make a purchase. While traditional content marketing uses keyword-based content distribution, Semantic Search uses AI to match content to shifting user interests determined by previous interactions (clicks, purchases, etc.).

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Building A Working Relationship With A Digital Nomad

To see how this type of content marketing can work in practice, let’s look at how search engine leverages Semantic Search to provide highly relevant content to digital nomads worldwide.

Hootsuite’s AI Search Can Surface Relevant Content In Just A Second

One of the key features of Hootsuite’s AI Search is its speed. Thanks to the power of big data, AI Search can glean relevant content from sources across the web in seconds.

To demonstrate, let’s enter the keywords “sales” and “marketing” into the search bar.

The AI will scan the web for content that matches these keywords and show it to you in a flash. You’ll notice that the results are rich with valuable content and can even pull in video content (if you have the YouTube app installed on your device).

This is a fantastic way to surface content that would fit perfectly into a marketing plan and make your marketing job much easier. Imagine searching for marketing keywords and getting an immediate flurry of relevant content, all gathered together in one place. No more wasting time scouring the web for marketing-related article clippings. Thanks to Semantic Search, you only need a browser and a desktop.

The Power Of Video Content

Video content is booming, and for a good reason – it’s engaging, provides value, and oftentimes, just plain fun to watch. Thanks to tools like Hootsuite’s Video Hub, you can put a video on your website or blog and use the power of AI to surface more valuable content.

Forbes recently reported that video content would account for 79% of all content on the web by 2021. The shift to video is clear – people are tired of just reading text and want to experience a story through action and video.

Get Ready To Engage Your Audience

While video content is growing, so is the amount of text on the web. That being said, videos are ideal for connecting with and engaging your audience. Thanks to tools like Hootsuite’s Hootsuite Analytics, you can track video views and estimate how much value the video is proposing to your organization. This is a great place to measure the effectiveness of a specific marketing video campaign or even a series of videos aimed at driving action (or entrance to a site, or purchase, etc.).

Where Do I Start?

If you’re new to video, the first step is to pick a topic that you’re passionate about. You believe in something you know a lot about or have experienced and can relate to other people, perhaps even your audience. Once you’ve chosen your topic, the next step is creating content around it.

The best place to start if you’re looking to enter the video world is by creating simple videos around your chosen topic. These videos don’t need to be overly complicated, just enough to get your point across. For example, if you’re considering a career in fashion, your first step might be to create a short video showcasing your outfits. Or, if you want to be a foodie, create a short video showing you cooking something new and delish!

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As you create video content, look for ways to add value. Instead of just showing you wearing a dress or a chef preparing food, offer helpful tips or suggestions to the audience. For example, if your video shows you cooking a Thai dish, give a brief introduction to Thai cuisine or culture. Or, if your video shows you styling various fashion items, include tips on how to dress stylishly or economically.

As you become more familiar with video creation, you can experiment with different formats and see what works best. Are you a fan of short-form videos? Do you feel that long-form videos can more effectively tell your story? Or perhaps you prefer to experiment with different lighting or sound effects to give your videos a unique style. Knowing your reasons for creating different types of videos and what works best for you and your brand will help you determine the next step.

The Many Forms Of Video

As we mentioned above, video can take many different forms. This could mean you have a laptop, a mobile phone, and a tablet. Or, it could mean that you have one device that does everything—from browsing the web to making calls to sending texts to viewing videos. (Yes, life has changed because of TikTok.)

To make matters more complicated, 43% of people use privacy settings to hide videos on their mobile phones, making it harder for marketers to find video consumers. (Privacy settings are one of the most recognizable symbols on social media, and many people feel that they’re safe to ignore since they can’t see the number of people watching their content.)

While the above figures give an idea of the growing influence of video, it’s important to remember that not all video is created equal. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube, dominated by short-form videos, have an incredible impact on how people discover, consume, and engage with content. However, this doesn’t mean that long-form videos can’t succeed. Many large companies and brands make considerable money from long-form documentaries and educational videos. (Think: MIT, BBC, and National Geographic.)

The Rising Popularity Of Quasi-News

Thanks to the rise of platforms like TikTok, often referred to as a “newsletter for the digital age,” people are demanding more from their news source.

Increasingly, people look for the truth but don’t necessarily want to hear it from traditional news outlets. Thanks to the viral nature of social media, people can easily share fake news, and since news outlets can’t always verify the information they share, it’s up to the consumer to do their due diligence.

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While many consider traditional news sources important sources of information, it’s critical to remember that what’s popular on social media isn’t always accurate. Even worse, since people on social media aren’t always willing to point out mistakes or inconsistencies, it can sometimes be hard to find out what’s true and what’s not. For example, if a celebrity’s tweet conflicts with an article from a reputable news outlet, it’s easy for people to spread fake news or “quasi-news.” (Yes, “fake news” and “quasi-news” are increasingly used these days interchangeably.)

Since the above examples come from well-known news sources and celebrities, it’s clear that people have questions about the information that they’re finding online.

It’s important to remember that as an entrepreneur or business leader, you can’t afford to ignore viral content’s impact on society. While the above figures are concerning, it’s critical to remember that people are going through a phase and that, in time, they’ll return to normal. For now, though, it’s important to understand viral content’s significance on our world.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Video isn’t going anywhere, so developing new strategies and tactics for attracting and engaging with video consumers is important.

Even with the above figures in mind, it’s clear that video consumption habits are changing and will continue to evolve alongside social media platforms.

Thanks to platforms like TikTok, which has over 500 million monthly active users, people can now easily find and consume short-form videos. Many businesses and brands are taking advantage of this by creating bite-sized video content.

As people grow more comfortable with shorter and shorter content, longer-form videos could become a thing of the past. The line between video and something else will continue to blur, especially since many businesses are moving towards creating “micro-video” content—short bursts of video that combine elements of both video and blog posts, such as a product review or an explainer video.

Content Distribution Is Now A More Efficient And Effective Use Of Time

Thanks to big data, content distribution is now more efficient. Instead of relying on humans to read content and digest it (which inevitably leads to some kind of error), distributed search algorithms make keyword-based content available to anyone who accesses a server. These algorithms are much more effective at finding content relevant to a user’s interests because they scour the web for articles and blogs with keywords relevant to the user’s query. Thanks to the explosion of online content, keyword-based content distribution is now a very powerful and effective tool!

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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