SEO in the Semantic Era (Part 1 of 6)

Introducing Semantic Search

You might know that Google introduced its “hummingbird” algorithm in late 2013 and has committed to evolve it as the future of search. Hummingbird was the harbinger of a major change away from keyword-based search results towards “intent” based search results, otherwise known as “semantic” search.

Context for Search Queries

This means that Google is now doing several things in its attempt to understand the true intent of a search query – not just based on the words in the query. For example, Google has concluded that search results based on keyword relevance alone are not always the best quality results. Google is now looking for context to a search query. This context may be provided by the qualifying words in the actual query (not just the keywords themselves), the searcher’s historical behaviour when they engage the internet (not just search) and several other indicators. Ultimately, even a searcher’s habits, tendencies, likes / dislikes and indeed everything that a searcher is willing to share with Google may be used as indicators of intent.

New Level of Personalisation

This raises many questions which will not be addressed here for space reasons. Suffice it to say however, that contrary to what many people believe in relation to not sharing their personal data on the internet, precedent would suggest that a very large percentage of searchers will indeed allow Google access to more information about them. This includes such things as their browser history, search history, online behaviours, Google+ profile information, places / maps information etc…

In exchange for this, Google is offering a far more personalised search experience. One that maintains the birds-eye view that is needed for objective research and which avoids the “fish-eye”, limited personalisation of the past. Indeed, such an experience can, in many cases, anticipate a searcher’s needs and present them with information before they even ask for it.

If you’ve used “Google Now” on Android, you already have a flavour of what is going on here. For example, if Google knows you’ve booked a flight, and knows where you are now, you may see a notification to remind you that you need to be leaving for the airport as, in current traffic, it will take you 90 minutes to get there plus a further 30 minutes to check-in. Not bad when you didn’t set a reminder and Google determined this solely from your flight confirmation email of two weeks ago.

Drivers of Semantic Search

There are a few drivers of the need for semantic search. They include the “conversational” search demands of mobile device users who tend to speak their search query in a much more specific way than an abbreviated keyboard search. They also include the need to present increasingly more specific search results as the sheer volume of information available on the internet grows exponentially. In essence, Google is encouraging specific “long-tail” searches because it is now so good at interpreting it!

What it means for SEO

The implications of semantic search for SEO are gargantuan. At their very core, is a change in emphasis from targeting identified key-phrases to targeting the wider language permutations of an identified marketing persona. This shift in focus alters the most basic performance metric in SEO. Today, one of the key SEO performance indicators is called a “ranking report”; a report showing how your website’s pages are being organically placed against each of the individual key-phrases you have targeted. With semantic search, the emphases switches to content – your key performance measurement will be how your content is performing against the totality of search behaviours for which it is ranked. This is radical. It reflects a new emphasis on your content’s ability to attract traffic from within your targeted persona, irrespective of the keyword language they may use. Not an easy task.

This means that the early stage research processes which SEO’s used in the past to identify relevant keywords, must shift to identifying the wider “language” of your target persona(s) and producing a regular stream of content that aligns to your persona’s behaviour.

What it means for Exporting Businesses

There’s good news and good news, and bad news and bad news here. The bad news is that significantly more complexity has been added to the task of localisation and search engine optimisation for multiple geographic markets. Even the language subtleties across English speaking markets now require consideration where persona behaviours can vary considerably. The second piece of bad news is that a static website is not going to cut it in the new semantic era. You will now need to get active is “content marketing”; more specifically SEO-directed content marketing – more on that throughout the series.

The good news is that relatively few companies currently understand what SEO-directed content marketing is. So if you apply it and practice it, you will improve your international SEO traction. The second piece of good news is that by following the SEO-directed content marketing process, every piece of content you create will contribute to and continually build your overall digital content “asset”. As your content will be both search optimised and value-driven, it will be the hub of all your digital channels – not just SEO. The same content will add value across each of your advertising, social, email marketing and other digital channels whist retaining an independent ability to attract relevant traffic from search engines that is capable of converting for you.

Article 2 in this series will be published next week: “Semantic Search in Action

This blog post was written by John Coburn (PraxisNow) who can be contacted at 01-2360076.  PraxisNow runs two SEO Certification Groups – each 4 weeks in duration: (1) Beginner to Intermediate SEO, and (2) Advanced SEO – details at  If you would like more information on Content Marketing and the digital challenge, check out their annual briefing at:


Strategic Pricing Workshop ISA Software Skillnet, 20 Nov 2014


Getting pricing right is critical to the success of any product. If pricing is not carried out with skill, companies can lose sales or win business but ‘leave money on the table’.

This day will teach you the strategies to help you set and keep your price (and discounts) aligned with your objectives. It will cover the pros and cons of different strategies, the issues to look out for and how to set a price for your products or services.

The strategic importance of the pricing discipline requires that product managers adopt a tailored, value-based approach to their products and solutions. A structured process helps integrate and apply critical value and competitive perspectives supporting optimal returns.


Delegates will:
  • Learn different pricing strategies including skimming, penetration, competitor tracking, segmented and value-based pricing, how they work and when they’re appropriate.
  • Learn the different ways in which software can be priced and when each is appropriate. This will include: transitioning from on premise software to SaaS; usage, seat and concurrent user based pricing; monthly vs perpetual licenses.
  • Learn the issues with bundling products and the opportunities created by establishing laddered pricing structures.
  • Learn the challenges and how best to handle discounting
  • Learn insights from pricing psychology to refine your price
  • Learn the best way to introduce your pricing offline and to test your pricing online

The Workshop will be held in Dublin on Thursday, the 20th November 2014.

For more information and to register, please click on the following link:—strategic-pricing/


Big Data Analytics: technology’s hottest trend


This event is targeted at managers in Business and Technology who are keen to know how Big Data Analytics can rapidly deliver competitive advantage for their business. There will be overviews of the state of the art in analytics covering visualisation, data management and analytics techniques. There will also be several short presentations from Irish companies outlining the business value being derived from the everyday application of Data Analytics.

Attendees will have the opportunity to experience hands-on demonstrators from Irish companies showing how Big Data Analytics is unlocking hidden value in their data.

When & Where: 18 Sept (Dublin) and 23 Sept (Cork) 9am-1pm

The Centre for Applied Data Analytics (CeADAR) is an industry-led technology centre for the development, and deployment of analytic technology and innovation. The Centre is a joint initiative between Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

CeADAR’s 3 core work programmes are:

Intelligent Analytic Interfaces allow ordinary users to derive benefits from exploring data, developing insights and communicating results from advanced analytics tools

Data Management for Analytics develops approaches, methods and tools to improve, simplify and reduce the effort involved in the management of data for analytics purposes

Advanced Analytics creates approaches, tools and techniques for social trending, social fingerprinting, continuous analytics and the detection of cause and effect across data streams

The Open Day will feature:

  • 3 talks overviewing the state of the art in the core areas of Big Data Analytics
  • 8 industry presentations illustrating real-world applications of Big Data Analytics
  • 20 hands-on demonstrators of analytics tools co-developed with the CeADAR Centre


09:00-09:30 Continental breakfast and hands-on Big Data Analytics demonstrators

09:30-09:40 Welcome & introduction to CeADAR

09:40-10:10 Overview of Big Data Analytics

10:10-10:40 Industry Experts Panel: Industry’s challenges and opportunities with analytics

10:40-11:25 Examples from Irish companies of Big Data Analytics at work

11:25-11:30 Wrap-up

11:30-13:00 Lunch and hands-on Big Data Analytics demonstrators

Register for the Dublin Event on 18 Sept 2014

Register for the Cork Event on 23 Sept 2014

Putting an interactive map on your website


Once upon a time a map was something that you took on holidays or that you kept on the back seat of the car. Now a map is not just a map – it’s a digital map:  an interactive tool for research and analysis, for data visualization and for key business planning.

And yet while many websites happily adopt the old idea of a map to highlight where certain types of business are located – shops, cafes, etc – they overlook the rich potential of using an interactive map.

Missing map

Let me give you an example. Each week, I check a certain website that highlights all the best travel deals on the internet. When I go to the website, I am presented with a list of offers. To find out more details, I have to click on each individual offer.

embedded map

The interactive map has more immediacy and is far more inviting than a list or spreadsheet

Putting all that information on a map – on the same page – would be so much easier. All I would have to do is click on a mapped point and a pop-up information box could tell me everything that I wished to know about an offer – as well as showing me where in the world it is!  Not only is this a faster way to access key information, it is also more engaging to me as a viewer.

Perceived obstacles to interactive mapping

I can only assume that sites such as the above resist taking the interactive mapping route due to a perceived belief that it is too complicated.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As the technology has moved from the world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to free online mapping placing a map on a website is no more difficult than copying and pasting one line of code. You don’t even need knowledge of HTML coding to do that!

5 Reasons to embed a map on a website

(1) It’s data visualization! The phrasea picture is worth a thousand words” has converted into the term data visualization in recent years. You can hardly open a newspaper or read a web page, without finding an infographic of some sort. A map is a type of infographic, but it doesn’t require in-depth graphic skills to produce…as the next paragraph explains.

(2) A map can be created in minutes. Mapping software now allows you to upload spreadsheet data containing a location element (address, postcode, etc) and then automatically plot it on a map. If the software is built on Google Maps, then you can have a high level of trust of the locations plotted.

(3) You can get an awful lot of information on a map For instance, eSpatial allows up to 100,000 items to be plotted on a map – per day! That’s an awful lot of lines to scan on a spreadsheet or in a list, when you’re in a hurry. An interactive map – just like maps throughout history – directs your eye to exactly the information you want at any given time. You avoid sifting through irrelevant data.

(4) A map can indicate scale and reach of operations Imagine you are a business that needs to impress by suggestion of scale. For instance, you could be a parts distributor and you want to communicate that those parts are available nationwide, through various outlets. Yes, a long list of names can be impressive – but not as useful as a map, because the viewer can instantly discern how near or far you are from them.

(5) A map can connect people and motivate them Never has this been more obvious to us than when we speak to non-profit clients. In this case, a map becomes a point of unity for initially disparate elements: volunteer, sponsors/funders and beneficiaries. The map in itself also can show key policy makers where the highest need for a service exists – or indeed where there is a complete absence of that service

This blog post was written by Patrick Butler from eSpatial   For more information on creating a map and embedding it on your website visit

Product Management programmes for software sector


Two new Product Management Programmes for the software sector (grant-aided through the ISA Software Skillnet) were launched last week.
Scala CEO exclusively for a dozen CEOs and founders combines individual advice, mentoring, and in-company workshops as well as select group peer-learning to provide specific individual guidance for software CEOs who are interested in driving the adoption of revenue-driving product management best practise into their companies.–product-management/

Scala Exec are aimed at a range of functional managers and product managers and provide one-day programmes in product-management practitioner topics like Quickstart Product Management, Product Pricing, Product Roadmapping, and Customer Requirements.

Bank of Ireland & Google: Enabling Enterprise Seminar


Bank of Ireland are partnering with Google to help businesses maximise the opportunity of online sales. Google will highlight three case studies and Irish SME’s that have successfully adopted an online sales model at a seminar on Monday June 24th at their Foundry facility (see details below) . It’s an opportunity for businesses that are actively looking to increase online sales to see what the lessons learnt are and benefit from the unrivalled expertise Google have in this space.

This is part of Bank of Ireland’s focus on enabling enterprise to grow. Both Richie Boucher ( Bank of Ireland, CEO) and John Herlihy ( Head of Google , Ireland) will speak at the event. Fifty of the companies attending will be eligible to participate in a 90 day Google program (sponsored by Bank of Ireland) on using the internet to grow revenues. This type of dedicated access to Google is not readily available so we think it will be of real interest. You do not need to be a Bank of Ireland customer to attend , the event is open to all companies that broadly fit the following criteria :

1. Digital Readiness: The company will have a fully functional website

2. Marketing Readiness:

  • · A digital marketing budget for 2014
  • · Have a member of team who is responsible for digital marketing
  • · The ability to outline their digital marketing ambition by participating in the programme (see details below).

3. Export: Whilst not mandatory it would be preferable that the delegates have an export opportunity / strategy for 2014


Bank of Ireland & Google: Enabling Enterprise Seminar

Topic: Growing Revenues Online

Date: Monday, 23rd June 2014 7:45am – 12:00pm

Venue: Google Foundry , Barrow Street, Dublin 2


Richie Boucher, Group CEO, Bank of Ireland

John Herlihy, Head of Google Ireland & VP SMB Sales

Hear how three business’s are growing their revenues online: Customer Testimonials facilitated by Fionnuala Meehan, Managing Director, SMB Sales North and Central Europe, Google

Date / Time: Monday, 23rd June 2014 7:45am – 12:00pm

RSVP by:

Companies attending will be eligible to participate in the following Bank of Ireland sponsored program run by Google:

Bank of Ireland are sponsoring a program with Google targeting 50-60 SME’s that are seeking to increase their internet marketing capability . It’s a 90 day part time programme designed to teach them how they can use Google to develop their sales revenues and, in particular, through export markets. 




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