How Semantic Search Is Creating New Economies
Having used the example of the fresh bread bakery to illustrate the insidious power of semantic search to pick up and amplify your online presence in ways that are frankly quite unexpected, it is fair to quantify, here, the different types of economies that are emerging because of semantic search. While an economy is usually defined as a production/consumption model within a country that’s restricted to goods and services, the behavior of digital transactions that extend beyond that fit the description well enough for us to use.
The economies emerging in the digital world are ones of longer value chains. They have names like relationship economy, collaborative economy, co-creational economy, or participatory economy, and they all mean the same thing: The divide between you and your customers has disappeared.
Now everyone is on the same side. You should want your customers to have a fantastic experience dealing with you, one that reflects the kind of experience my imaginary freshly baked bread company example offers.
It is the same with semantic search. Search started out in a push-pull kind of relationship where anyone who had an online presence struggled to get noticed. They used to do whatever it took to get to the first page of Google, cut every corner they could to get ahead of their competitors on search. It is questionable whether that served their customer needs first and theirs second. But if the question was ever asked it was never considered too deeply. In the helter-skelter world of the early days of search the struggle was to be seen and make the visibility work. That was also sufficient to generate sales, or at least some sales.
Clearly that is no longer sufficient.
As semantic search unleashes fresh meaning on the Web it demands of business the same three criteria we discussed in Chapter 2: trust, reputation, authority. These three are gained in exactly the same order, and in my example of the imaginary bakery, they emerged in exactly that order through the activities its owner embarked upon.
As Figure 3.1 illustrates, the three cogs of trust, reputation, and authority also make up your brand machine.
Figure 3.1. Trust, reputation, and authority are central components in the establishment of brand equity.
Writing in the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research on the subject, reputation researchers Rehab Alnemr, Stefan Koenig, Torsten Eymann, and Christoph Meinel explained how the Internet is a distributed, decentralized environment where considerable risks are inherent in every transaction.
The absence of a central authority creates a currency out of perceived trust, which then acquires monetary value that translates into increased eCommerce and Internet services activity. This is a formalized way, perhaps, of saying that trust leads to reputation that leads to authority, and all three create your brand equity that makes you a trusted source of news and services, or a trusted place to buy something from.
Semantic search requires all three to work properly, and Google is putting in place precise mechanisms to establish them. In Chapter 4 we see just what these mechanisms are and how you can get a head start in creating them in your organization so that you benefit directly from the assessment semantic search is beginning to impose.