Thursday, February 24, 2011

Words that Sell & the Semantic Web

For the most part, people communicate in words, and computers do their best to understand us. Now their best is getting better. Now semantic web tools - touted as "the next big thing"in 2001(!) - are really proving their worth as great interpreters (of our search keywords) and the result is...well, happy retailers, at least.

In addition to investing in software platforms that take advantage of semantic searches customers use while shopping online, retailers are also learning that integrating blog content with behind-the-scenes sales tools and including terms shoppers use to find products leads to more "organic" traffic (generated from searches on-site, rather than visitors arriving from off-site) and higher conversion rates.

The difference the words make: Fickle customers decide to buy or abandon a site within a couple of minutes. That means to make the sale, your site has to understand what a customer wants when she types in "small red bag" or "dainty maroon clutch" and figure out that it may or may not be the same thing. At its most basic, a semantics-savvy search engine won't deliver something related to a manual transmission and is likely to counter with a question like "to take to the gym or accessorize evening wear?"

So what does today's more mature semantic web mean to copywriters? If your paycheck depends on using words to sell, you need to understand its behavior well enough to use it to your - and your clients' - advantage.

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