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Marketing AI: How to Build a Keyword Ontology

Workshop scheduled at 1:00-4:00 in Room 2 (Swain)

This talk describes the what, why, how, and results of the IBM Keyword Ontology.


Keywords are the life’s blood of a marketing enterprise. Keyword research allows companies to learn the voice of their customers and tune their marketing messages for them.


Most marketing organizations struggle to find the right keywords for their teams. The words have to be relevant to their businesses and have enough query volume to indicate sufficient interest in a topic by their target audience.


At IBM we built a keyword ontology, which is a fancy name for a set of taxonomies related to the keywords our target audiences most often use in their search queries. We get keyword data from Google, and we organize it into topics for our topic taxonomy using technology we built using Watson Knowledge Studio. We also can arrange keywords by business unit, brands, and products. When you have all these attributes related in an ontology, there is no end to the way you can manage content using them.


For example, we have something called the web segment taxonomy. It controls the way we form our URLs for our web pages, among other things. Because it is based on the keyword ontology, we can ensure that new pages are built with the language of the customer in the URL. We can then align the URL semantics with the navigation labels, internal faceted search labels, bread crumbs, topic tags, social tags, and page headings. The more of these signals you can line up, the easier it is for your audience to find relevant content on your site through search and navigation.”

Takeaways: How to build practical AI systems for search and IA success.

Attendee Skill Level: Intermediate skill level. Some taxonomy, and IA experience required

Presented By

James Mathewson

James Mathewson is the Program Director, Content Strategy and Platforms. His job is to build the ecosystem for enterprise content management, including taxonomy, ontology, content planning, publishing, and optimization. He has 20 years of experience in web editorial, content strategy, and SEO for large and small companies. A frequent speaker, lecturer and blogger, James has published more than 1600 articles and two books on how web technology and user experience change the nature of effective content. James has two advanced degrees on related subjects from the University of Minnesota.

Follow @James_Mathewson on Twitter

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley is a product owner and content technology strategist, currently leading the IBM Marketing Taxonomy Guild to revise and align taxonomy initiatives across the marketing ecosystem. He has experience working with and across documentation, support, training, and marketing content as an enterprise content technology strategist. He was one of the original architects and editors of the DITA standard, was named an OASIS Distinguished Contributor in 2017, and is currently co-chairing the Lightweight DITA subcommittee.

Follow @ditaguy on Twitter

Dan Segal

Dan Segal is a Taxonomist on IBM’s Marketing Platforms team. His work focuses on the use of cognitive technologies such as natural language processing and machine learning for SEO and digital marketing. Dan has over 15 years of experience as a practitioner and consultant in the areas of taxonomy and ontology development, vocabulary management, semantic metadata, text analytics, and information retrieval. He holds BS and MLS degrees from Rutgers University.