What are your thoughts on the Semantic Web and how it will change SEO as we know it? Thanks so much!
P.S. Love your SEO101 class and I can’t wait to continue on with the others!
“If HTML and the Web made all the online documents look like one huge book, RDF, schema, and inference languages will make all the data in the world look like one huge database” Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, 1999
Semantic web may mean different things to different people but basically semantic web is a mesh of structured information; data organized so perfectly that machines will be able to fully comprehend each and every bit of information contained within. This is in contrast to the present World Wide Web.
Since machines (search engines included) will be able to understand and interpret data, they would be in a better position to give us the most relevant information. In essence, semantic web will be a web with a meaning for machines.
Semantic web is still in its infancy and progress is being made to introduce technologies and global standards that will help us build a semantic web. You may notice instances of semantic web in the form of semantic search engines and webpages that make use of semantic technologies like RDF, Microformats, OWL, etc. However, there is a long journey to be made before we have a truly semantic web.
Semantic web will solve a very basic issue with search engines – relevancy. As humans, we ask questions to get information and search engines will be better equipped at answering those questions in the era of semantic web. There is no doubt that today’s search engines have come a long way in answering our queries based on solely matching text patterns to recognizing contextual relevance. But there is a lot of room of improvement and semantic web will play a pivotal role in bridging the relevancy gap.
Will there be a need for search engine optimization when semantic web comes into being? Well, I cannot answer that in a definite “Yes” or a “No”, not without studying the ramifications of semantic web on search engines. Nobody can I believe.
What do SEO professionals do today? They study, test, and implement hypothesis learned by closely following heuristics of search engine ranking algorithms. I believe we would still be doing the same when semantic web becomes a reality, only at a different level.