Why Keyword Search is Dead (And You Should Be Worried)

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It wasn’t all that long ago that most eCommerce sites had a small box inconspicuously located somewhere on the home page, usually with the cryptic instructions, “Enter Keyword.” It was what search boxes looked like and it was designed around the fact that most search technology was pretty crude. It could search for a specific keyword on a site. If it found that word, it would deliver results. If it did not locate that one word – too bad, no results.

Those days are gone forever. And if you’re still living in that antiquated time, you should be concerned that you are losing sales and conversion by not delivering the kind of search experience today’s consumer has been trained to expect.

This seismic shift in search technology all started with the two search giants, Google and Bing. Bing, which was unveiled in 2009, was the first serious competitor to Google to use semantic search technology. Semantic, or natural language search, uses artificial intelligence to understand the meaning and intent of the search query instead of just looking for keywords.

Google, which had no such capability, began to take a little heat for using what was clearly an inferior technology, and pretty quickly stepped up. In fact, by the fourth quarter of 2009 Google CEO Eric Schmidt made the statement, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Google understood the meaning of your phrase, rather than just the words that are in the phrase? We have [done] a lot of discoveries in that area that are going to roll out [soon].” Which of course they did, and have continued to do.

Apple’s Siri set the bar even higher, and now natural language search is an integral component of any first class search technology. Which means your customers are using it every day. But when they come to your website are they being thrown back into the past?

The bottom line is that shoppers and other search engine users no longer expect to enter simple keywords. They may enter whole phrases or descriptive content that reveals their specific search intent, and they expect results and relevance.

Today, the online shopper on an eCommerce site has been conditioned to expect the same experience they have become accustomed to in their everyday online search on Google or Bing. EasyAsk’s natural language search technology brings your search function into the 21st century with a complete set of activities that get to the heart of what your customer is looking for, including:

  • Term stemming: Understanding variations on words such a plurals, tenses, hyphenated terms and more
  • Semantic processing: Bridging the gap between text and meaning by relating words and their synonyms to their core concepts, and
  • Attribute awareness: Recognizing attributes such as “yellow” in terms such as “yellow garden statue” and knowing how to relate them to the search.

When it comes to search, your customers have been driving shiny new sports cars on Google and Bing for the past few years. So don’t make them drive a horse and buggy when they come to your site.


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