Alleged Semantic Tips Spot on for Freshman Comp Students

August 5, 2015

I find the amount of attention given to semantic search as it applies to search engine optimization a fascinating development. “Semantic”, like Big Data, is fast becoming meaningless. The root of semantic is the Greek word for significant.

The application of the word semantic to information search and retrieval is a bit less straightforward. Toss in the concept of “search” and “content processing” and the output is an an information smoothie with big chunks of tough to identify systems and methods; for example:

  • Methods to discern user intent
  • Methods to figure out the context of an ambiguous element
  • Programmatic data inserted into a content object which makes sense to a content processing system set up to recognize these instructions
  • Systems which use pre-compiled look up tables or programmatic methods to figure out which words go together (White House or white house) or which alias goes with which person of interest
  • Systems which attempt to “make sense” of content objects which signify some other information such as “Harrod’s teddy bear” as a token for an illegal substance
  • Systems which deal with multi lingual corpuses
  • Malformed Web accessible content which is supposed to comply with the W3C standards for semantic “stuff”.

You get the idea. Semantic drags in a number of interesting systems and methods. Many of these are complex and evolving as innovators try to deal with lousy precision and recall which is the norm for many “semantic” methods.

Now navigate to “Semantic Search Strategies That Work.” I would suggest that the tips in this write up apply to a person in an introductory college writing class. Here they are:

  1. “Forget about content as a daily grind.” Now that is music to a freshman’s ears. The silly notion that many professional writers have is that writing is something one must do every day and pursue with discipline. Nah, for real semantic search, take it easy. Chillax.
  2. “Concentrate on quality.” Now this is an interesting point. Google calculates quality based on a number of factors. The idea that a person who writes a high quality post and benefit from that effort is intriguing. In my experience, many excellent write ups get absolutely zero attention. These are usually write ups that address topics far from the pop music, Netflix, and Donald Trump scene. Here’s an example: Alon Halevy, et al, “Biperpedia: An Ontology for Search Applications.” This is a high quality paper, and I doubt that SEO mavens can match the effort which went into this 12 page write up. The write up deals with semantic issues, by the way.
  3. “When you write show who you are.” Not so fast. With the data lapses at various government agencies, health insurers, and corporate entities, content generated for the Web may require some thought, grooming, and vetting. How many SEO wizards want me to know about their behaviors and thoughts beyond their asserted expertise in fooling Google to rank an irrelevant site high in a query results list? How many SEO experts want the world to know that Google dropped a site in its rankings due to SEO missteps? What SEO expert wants a system to know what the person did prior to becoming an SEO expert? What about those secret actions like hunting lions in Africa or a dust up at a local watering hole? Think about this “who you are” stuff. Think carefully.
  4. “Focus on your prospects.” Ah, the bias is explicit. The motivating factor is that one writes to sell consulting work. Wrong. My hunch is that Dr. Halevy writes because he is curious and has colleagues with whom to collaborate in order to advance a particular area of inquiry. Halevy already sold a company to Google and, I assume, could sit at home and do volunteer SEO work. So far, he has resisted the siren song of easy money via baloney expertise.
  5. “Spend time on engagement.” I think this means attend conferences, post to social media, and hang out at watering holes without being captured in an on looker’s mobile phone picture.

Snake oil is available, gentle reader. Use with caution because it can damaged certain cognitive functions while emptying one’s bank account.

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2015


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta