Semantic SEO: Solution or Runway for Google Ads, Formerly AdWords?

May 14, 2020

I participated in a conversation with Robert David Steele, a former CIA professional, and a former Google software engineer named Zack Vorhies. One of the topics touched upon was Google’s relaxing of its relevance thresholds. A video of extracts from the conversation contains some interesting information; for example, the location of a repository of Google company documents Mr. Vorhies publicly released.

My contribution to the discussion focused on how valuable “relaxed” relevance is. The approach allows Google to display more ads per query. The “relaxed” query means that an ad inventory can be worked through more quickly than it would be IF old fashioned Boolean search were the norm for users. Advertisers’ eyes cross when an explanation of Boolean and “relaxing” a semantic method have to be explained.

DarkCyber’s research team prefers Boolean. None of the researchers need training wheels, Mother Google (which seems to emulate Elsa Krebs of James Bond fame) and WFH Googlers bonding with their mobile phones like a fuzzier, semantic Tommy Bahama methods.

The team spotted “The Newbie’s Information to Semantic Search: Examples and Instruments.” Our interpretation of “newbies” is that the collective noun refers to desperate marketers who have to find a way to boost traffic to a Web site BEFORE going to his or her millennial leader and saying, “Um, err, you know, I think we have to start buying Google Ads.”

Yes, there is a link between the SEO rah rah and the Google online advertising system. The idea is simple. When SEO fails, the owner of the Web page has to buy Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). In a future post, someone on the team will write about this interesting business process. Just not in this post, thank you.

The article triggering this essay includes what looks like simplified semi-technical diagrams. Plus, there are screenshots featuring Yo Yo Ma. And SEOish jargon; for example:

Knowledge as in “knowledge of any Web page.” DarkCyber finds categorical affirmatives a crime against logicians living and semantically dead.
Mapping as in “semantic mapping”

Plus, the write up some to be an advertorial weaponized content object for a product called Optimizer. DarkCyber concluded that the system is a word look up tool, sort of a dumbed down thesaurus for hustlers, unemployed business administration junior college drop outs, and earnest art history majors working in the honorable discipline of SEO.

What’s the semantic analysis convey to a reader unfamiliar with the concepts of “semantic,” “mark up,” and “knowledge.”? The answer, in the view of the DarkCyber team, is less and less useful search results. Mr. Vorhies makes this point in the video cited above. In fact, he wants to go back to the “old Google.” Why? Today’s Google outputs frustratingly off point results.

The article’s main points, based on the DarkCyber interpretation of the article, are:

First, statements like this: “…don’t actually recognize how troublesome it’s to elucidate what’s being communicated with out the assistance of all “beyond-words” indicators.” Yeah, what? DarkCyber thinks the tortured words imply that smart software and data can light up the dark spaces of a user’s query. Stated another way: Search results should answer the user’s question with on point results. Yes, that sounds good. A tiny percentage of people using Google want to conduct an internal reference interview to identify what’s needed, select the online indexes to search, formulate the terms required for a query, and then run the query on multiple systems. Very few users of online search systems wants to scan results, analyzed the most useful content, dedupe and verify data, and then capture facts with appropriate bibliographic information. Many times, this type of process is little for than input for a more refined query. Who has time for a systematic, thorough informationizing process. Why? Saying the word “pizza” to a mobile phone is the way to go. If it works for pizza, the simple query will work for Inconel 235 chemical properties, right? This easy approach is called semantic. In reality it is a canned search with results shaped by advertisers who want clicks.

Second, a person desperately seeking traffic to a Web site must index content on a Web page. Today, “index” is a not-so-useful term. Today one “tags” a page with user assigned terms. Controlled vocabularies play almost no role in modern Web search systems. Just make up a term, then to a TikTok video and become a millionaire. Easy, right? To make tags more useful, one must use synonyms. If a page is about pizza, then a semantic tag is one that might offer the tag “vegetarian.” At least one of the DarkCyber team is old enough to remember being taught how to use a thesaurus and a dictionary. Today, one needs smart software to help the art major navigate the many words available in the English language.

Third, to make the best use of related words, the desperate marketer must embrace “semantic mapping.” The idea is to “visualize relationships between ideas and entities.” (The term “entity” is not defined, which the DarkCyber team is perfectly okay for newbies who need help with indexing.) The idea of a semantic map is a Google generated search page — actually a report of allegedly related data — created by Google’s smart software. In grade school decades ago, students were taken to the library, taught about the “catalog”. Then students would gather information from “sources.” The discovered information was then winnowed and assembled into an essay or a report. If something looked or seemed funny, there was a reference librarian or a teacher to inform the student about the method for verifying facts. Now? Just trust Google. To make the idea vivid, the article provides another Google output. Instead of Yo Yo Ma, the topic is “pizza.” There you go.

The write up reminds the reader to use the third party application Text Optimizer for best results. And the bad news is that “semantic codes” must be attached to these semantically related index terms. One example is the command for deleted text. Indeed, helpful. Another tag is to indicate a direct quotation. No link to a source is suggested. Another useful method for the practicing hustler.

Let’s step back.

The article is all too typical of search engine optimization expertise. The intent is wrapped in the wool of jargon. The main point is to sell a third party software which provides training wheels to the thrashing SEO hungry individual. Plus, the content is not designed to help the user who needs specific information.

The focus of SEO is to add fluff to content. When the SEO words don’t do the job, what does the SEO marketer do?

Buy Google Ads. This is “pay to play”, and it is the one thing that Google relies upon for revenue.

Stephen E Arnold, May 14, 2020


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