The Semantic Web and your Brand

Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 03:07 PM

Many people still do not truly understand how the so-called “Semantic Web” relates to their own business and online brand. The idea of the “Semantic Web” itself has unfortunately become over generalized due to the media hype surrounding related concepts like artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning. While these are very interesting fields, and certainly somewhat related to the idea of a semantic web, they are not core to the practical applications of semantic-web compatible markups and standards. In fact, one needs to know very little about the semantic web to know that data standards (and in fact the very idea of “standardization”) is important to business. Let’s take the very simple idea of optimizing your brand on the internet. Your brand, like anything else online or offline, is introduced to the public through your “message”. Your message in turn, is crafted in words.

Now, the brand itself will be associated with a core idea and that core idea of course is part of the message. But there actually is a point when the concept of “semantics” creeps into your brand building. It is the point where you start to concern yourself with how people will find you. Sure, you have a great message, but how will people connect with the message through searches? That’s the key. People find things on the internet through search strings. And those stings need to connect with the way your core ideas are expressed. So you will need to master a key semantic concept in order to facilitate that connection. You will need to understand the “synonyms” that are part of expressing your brand concept. Let’s use an example. Perhaps you are selling a new type of soft drink – a soda brand. The core idea is going to be expressed by “soda” but we must expand the set of brand words beyond that one. In other words we can’t assume that everyone looking for the concept soda will use the word ‘soda’. They could use ‘pop’ or ‘cola’ to mean the same thing. They also could use some of your product’s attribute words instead of using the brand word itself or they could use a more general word such as “drink”. For example, “carbonated beverages”, “soft drinks” and the like would be search terms that you would like to lead to your product, the soda.

So with just the simplest of examples, you can already see that semantics does come into play in branding even on the most basic levels. It is important to understand the generality of terms as well as the concept of synonymy. When things get more complicated however, such as with a large financial or legal information product, the organization and presentation of data is a large project in itself, completely separate from branding. This is where data consultants such as LBTech can help. We are data experts specializing in everything from groundbreaking data standards to site optimization.

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