Its no secret that Google has made some major shifts in how they rank websites in the past few months.
Over the years, Google has constantly tweaked its algorithm to stay ahead of the search industry in its quest to provide searchers with the highest quality search results possible.
In this quest, they have most recently rolled out the Panda Update and all its subversions 2.0. 2.2, 2.3, etc.
Although there are many facets to the most recent update. One thing we are noticing is the way sites are beginning to rank for keywords when they may not seem totally optimized for said term.
At first this may appear to be a flaw in the new algorithm, however, we are finding more and more that Google is just getting better at determining synonyms for keywords, phrases, and popular search queries.
The scientific term for this is Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI for short. Wikipedia defines LSI as a mathematical technique used to identify patterns in the relationships between terms and the concepts contained in an unstructured collection of texts.
For example: Google uses LSI to determine the relationship between automobile and car, or airplane and wing, now as humans we take for granted sometimes that this is common sense, but for a machine not so much.
In the past LSI has been used for many applications including:
- Grading essays – Saving teachers and professors countless hours of reading
- Government Agencies – The governments program teratext uses LSI to sift through large amounts of data they collect to determine patterns and possible security breaches
- Publishing companies use lsi to aid searches in their databases
With Googles acquisition of Applied Semantics in 2003 ( later to become AdSense) and Metaweb Technologies in 2010 it is no secret that google is investing heavily in this technology.
Their use is clearly evident in tools such as their link wheel, the related searches section of the search results, and even their adwords keyword tool. However, we have more recently seen this heavily applied to the search algorithm to determine quality of a webpage.
The only question is now as an ecommerce marketer, how do we use this knowledge to maintain our competitive edge? Although this is not an easy answer that can be summed up in one sentence, I truly feel you must continue to produce quality content not for a search engine and not built around a keyword as was once the norm. Now it is becoming more about becoming an authority in your space, having a natural pattern of keywords in your content that is not stuffed with keywords. Now it is more about producing a quality experience for your reader that is knowledgeable in the topic at hand. This is the type of content that people naturally link to and this is the type of content you should be producing.