Google constantly adapts to the way users browse for information online. The changes in our behavior are often reflected in the way we compose our search queries. This all led to the development of semantic search - keep reading to learn more about it!
One of the most important aspects of generating and maintaining a high search rank is properly monitoring and establishing proper SEO practices. One of these practices, understanding semantic search, is key to maintaining a great ranking because it intuits the searching user’s intention when they type into Google. To target results based on semantic search, SEO approaches mean that you take into account the fact that people often don’t quite understand what they’re searching for and plan accordingly. You can use this to your advantage, creating a robust presence that ensures your site will be found!
So What is Semantic Search?
While a particular semantic search definition is difficult to come by due to many people having their own thoughts on the topic, a simple starting point would be:
Semantic Search is the process used by modern search engines to retrieve information, based on the most relevant search results, by focusing on meaning instead of keyword matching.
With this semantic search definition, we can see that it means that SEO is much more complicated than simply inserting keywords into any given piece of content. Topics, intent, markups, and relevancy all matter just as much – if not more!
The history of semantic search is quite interesting: prior to the Google takeover of the search engines, semantic search SEO was predominantly built around the understanding that engines mostly collected directories, manually curated, that looked something more like a traditional library would. Back when there were far fewer web pages in operation, this made sense and worked quite well. After Google, however, and after the dot com boom, the number of websites exploded and the manual operation became impossible. This leads to algorithmic cataloging that is able to cope with changing content on the fly. Semantic search is the modern iteration of this algorithm, enabling Google to infer what you mean when you type in the search bar.
Some examples of this would be that typing “who is the little green man in star wars” and having the examples retrieve “Yoda” or “Who's the partner of the actor who played obi wan” bringing up “Eve Mavrakis” – Ewan McGregor’s ex-wife (at the time of filming Star Wars, his wife.)
Why is Semantic Search so Important?
One of the biggest reasons to understanding why semantic search is so important is because most people do not simply type keywords into search engines, generally, especially if they don’t quite know what they’re looking for. “Queen memory foam bed” is a much different search than “most effective bed for bad backs” for instance, so it’s important to be able to cater to both search styles. With the way search engines are prioritizing the latter kind of searches, it makes perfect sense to focus your SEO efforts on also catering towards semantic search as much as possible. If you need to ask yourself “what is semantic search?” you might already be leaving countless visitors to your site on the table!
Being able to allow access to your website to anyone searching for it, whether they be searching keywords or full sentences, will only allow your business to grow larger and larger.
SEO and Semantic Searches
Around 40% of the words in the English language are polysemous, meaning that they have two or more meanings. A great example of this is the word “Pen” which refers both to a writing implement and an area to keep an animal. Because of this quirk of the language, search engines need to be able to provide options that understand the difference between the two meanings when you are only interested in one of them.
With the “pen” example, Google will use the data it already knows about you in order to best guess what you mean when you solely type that word into the search bar. If you are a dog breeder, for instance, the majority of your results should come back involving animal equipment. If you’re a writer, most of the results will involve ink!
Because of these facts, it’s easy to see how important context matters to your SEO practices. Thinking about your SEO in terms of context and less about keywords means that you can target people who have a specific intention – asking questions like “what is the best off-road truck” – and providing them your solutions.
Some Semantic Search SEO Tips
With all that out of the way, here are some tricks that you can immediately implement in order to affect your site’s SEO! These best practices are a great way to optimize your content and get as much traffic as possible.
Assessing Search Intent
Before creating any kind of content, it’s important to know what the top-ranking competitors of that content already are. If you want to write about the best sock made between 1950 and 1980, you might have difficulty getting traffic. On the other hand, if you notice that the best sock articles are currently “35 Best Socks for Men 2021” and “The Best Men’s Sock s Brands In The World Today: 2021 Edition,” you may start to get a better idea of how people search for their sock-related content! Creating the content you want to create is important, but it’s just as important to understand what people are searching for and how they actually search the topic.
Build Link Relevancy
Internal links (links within your domain) and external links (other domains linking to you) are crucial to being seen by any search engine, especially ones utilizing semantic searching. One of the most powerful SEO tools is your content being shared by many people and your content being referred to by numerous other pages. This allows the search engine to know that your content is relevant!
Is there a huge difference between the two following examples?
1) “You need to go to the store and get bananas, mangoes, and oranges for a good fruit salad.”
2)Good Fruit Salad:
It turns out that, yes, this kind of content delivery helps search engines categorize their results even more efficiently than they already do. This is known as schema markup, which is another method you can use to structure your data into easily deliverable information. This is a common semantic framework used by search engines all over the web! If a user wants to know how to make a good fruit salad, it is much easier for Google to show them the second example.
There are many marketing tools out there, and one of the most important is ahrefs.com. This site allows you to analyze your keywords and plan your content around what people are actually searching for – and what people actually search for are generally not strings of keywords. This is where topics become much more important than a jumble of random words: less people search for things like “asparagus grow” than they search for “best place to plant asparagus.” By understanding this phenomenon, you can plan content specifically around these organic search strings instead of having to slap together keywords piecemeal.
Semantic Search is the Future of SEO
It’s important to understand just how rapidly the internet landscape is evolving and just how important Semantic Search is to that evolution. By using intent and context, searches are more powerful than they’ve ever been, so it’s important to update SEO practices to match these new capabilities. SEO takes time to work, but by fully investing in your company’s SEO keyword usage as well as its contextual, topical relevance, you will be able to fully cover your bases and skyrocket your search ranking!
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