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Beginners Guide to Semantic SEO - What To Know

29th Dec 22

Over the past decade, the tech world has seen a significant transformation in search engines. Earlier, Google would match users with results by simply scanning web content for keywords.

Currently, Google understands the true meaning of search queries and content more deeply and accurately. Google is more accurate when interpreting user intent, context, and search behavior than it did before.

Google uses semantics, a field of linguistics and natural language processing associated with the meanings of language. The ultimate goal of semantics is processing web-based information and language as a human brain could.

Semantic SEO allows website owners to leverage Google’s NLP models to build more meaning to web content, giving it more relevance, topical depth, accuracy, and quality.

semantic search

What Is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO is the procedure of building more meaningfulness and relevance to web content around certain topics instead of one or two keywords. It’s when web owners create more meaning in their web content.

Semantic SEO goes beyond simply giving direct responses to search queries. It focuses more on the meanings and topics instead of keywords.

A semantic approach gives more depth, value, and relevance to a particular subject by connecting terms, entities, and subtopics across a website.

This approach creates a web of semantically related content. It organizes information in a way that forms semantic links between pages on a website.

Semantic SEO aims at answering user intent more accurately by taking information beyond the search query into account. Content that is optimized correctly for semantic SEO will not only answer the first question a user has but also the second, third, and fourth questions they may have.

This approach creates a comprehensive guide that covers topics in depth and creates topical clusters covering topics and subtopics in detail across a sequence of interlinked pages.

Is Semantic SEO Important?

Thanks to semantic Natural Language Processing technology, search engines like Google are getting better at comprehending language in the same way the human brain can with every new algorithm update.

With Google making more and more developments with semantic-orinted NLP algorithms, a linguistic approach to SEO is more important than ever.

Google’s search algorithms, which are becoming more and more semantic, are concerned with getting a deeper, more accurate meaning of web content.

Since Google is constantly understanding web content in more detail, web owners must consider creating more meaning into web content with semantic SEO.

Advantages Of Semantic SEO

Some advantages of semantic SEO strategies include:

Higher Rankings

Your website will be more probable to rank higher than pages that have less relevance to the search query. Google’s semantic search algorithm affects your site’s ability to rank. It measures your site’s topical depth and breadth to establish its perceived quality.

Earning Featured Excerpts

Google extracts featured snippet information through the use of semantic analysis to point out the most valuable and meaningful sections of web content.

You can earn featured snippets by building more meaning into your web content semantically.

Developing Industry Authority

By covering relevant topics in more detail, you are not only stamping authority in your industry to search engines but also users.

Providing More Value To Users

Semantic SEO enables users to get quicker and more accurate search results with the option of finding more information.

More Fun Exploring Topics

Semantic SEO lets you explore a topic in detail. This can be a lot of fun and genuinely interesting whether you are a business owner, marketer, or SEO.

Semantic Search

Semantic search is the procedure by which search engines generate results that match the probable meanings and intent of search queries instead of results that just match the keywords.

Search engines need semantic search models to figure out exactly what the user is searching for. However, they provide value beyond what the searcher is looking for.

For a deeper understanding of the meaning and intent of a query, semantic search models use the following contextual factors:

  • Query context and location
  • How the words in the search query relate to each other
  • User search history
  • The relation between similar searches

These factors resemble the semantic cues humans use in daily conversations to comprehend what is being said.

Basically, Google aims to facilitate a search engine that can interpret complex linguistic cues.

With the advancement of semantic search technology, search engine result pages (SERPs) are becoming more and more accurate; with valuable information that answers queries with fewer searches.

Semantic Search Algorithms

Google’s search didn’t just get t where it is today. Google has come a long way to establish its semantic search capabilities.

The Knowledge Graph

In 2012, Google introduced the Knowledge Graph. It is essentially a huge database of public information. With the introduction of this database, Google could connect entities, to form an understanding of the relationship between different people, things, movies, places, and myriad other pieces of information. A good demonstration of Google’s Knowledge Graph in action is when you conduct a celebrity search. These kinds of queries usually generate a panel of information detailing the celebrity’s birthdate, spouse, marital status, movies they have featured in, fellow cast members, and more.

Hummingbird

In 2013, Google released Hummingbird which saw the emergence of semantic search strategies. This meant that instead of using NLP to match keywords, Google could use Natural Language Processing to match results with the meaning of search queries.

This advancement saw pages containing context-rich information outdo pages lacking meaningful context around keywords, and even rank higher without necessarily containing the exact keyword.

Rankbrain

Google introduced Rankbrain to the search engine world in 2015 as a machine learning AI system. Just like Hummingbird, Rankbrain’s goal was to upgrade Google’s semantic comprehension of language.

The major difference between Hummingbird and Rankbrain is that the latter uses machine learning artificial intelligence, which constantly examines top organic search results and develops similarities between useful pages.

BERT

In 2019, Google launched Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or in short, BERT. The introduction of this algorithm significantly advanced Google’s ability to accurately portray search intent and deliver more accurate results. This upgrade meant Google could handle more complex and conversational search queries. It also meant there were more opportunities for pages to rank for longtail searches.

MUM

The latest update is Google’s MUM which uses an artificial intelligence-based system to help users to get answers to their queries with fewer clicks.

It may take us several searches to find the information we are seeking. But, MUM short for Multitask Unified Model, aims to generate substantial results much faster by understanding composite queries more accurately.

MUM can look for answers across web pages regardless of language. It can even comprehend information from non-text entities like images allowing Google to deliver relevant subtopics that offer more depth and context around a specific subject.

How To Improve Your Ranking Using Semantic SEO

The emergence and development of semantic search have seen the world of SEO change for the better.

Rather than focusing on keywords, sites now need to take a holistic SEO approach that keeps user value and topical relevance in consideration. Here are ways of utilizing semantic SEO.

1. Extracting Semantic Information From Google SERPs

You can identify topically relevant information by analyzing the search engine results page features that appear for your target term. SERP features provide semantically relevant information and give insight into how Google comprehends your chosen topic.

Useful SERP features include:

  • Query refinement filters
  • 'People also ask' questions
  • Google autocomplete
  • Related searches and suggested queries
  • Rich results, such as images
  • Google knowledge panels

Once you identify ways of covering your topics in more detail and come up with a comprehensive semantic SEO strategy, you can use online tools to collect information from SERP features such as:

  • Answer The Public for Google autocomplete information around your keyword
  • Also Asked for live, geo-specific ‘people also ask’ information around your keyword

Search Intent

The meaning behind a search query is known as search intent and it works toward understanding what exactly the user is searching for.

Analyze the top SERP results to see how Google is interpreting the search intent.

2. Keyword research for semantic SEO

The most important thing to keep in mind when conducting keyword research for semantic SEO is that you are targeting topics. This means you should begin with a broad topic and then cover more specific subtopics that relate to your main subject.

You can then map your topics hierarchically, giving the broader topics more precedence. Here are some tools you can use to research keywords:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

When conducting your keyword research, it is important to consider similar keywords that somehow variate from your target term.

Apart from avoiding keyword repetition and stuffing, keyword variations can diversify the semantic core of your content.

3. Writing Content For Semantic SEO

Having conducted keyword research and gathered semantic information from SERPs, you should begin thinking about how you will target the topic and subsequent semantically related subtopics.

Comprehensive content

This type of content is usually a comprehensive piece that incorporates the main topic and other semantically related subtopics. This often includes information from SERP features.

Topic Clusters

Topic clusters use a sequence of interlinked pages to cover a topic and a wide range of subtopics. These pages should have internal links that connect them to one another and especially to the main topic piece. Topic clustering creates more meaning and topical relevance across your site

4. Keep Contextual factors in Consideration

Search engines will consider contextual factors such as the user’s previous search history and location to better understand a search query’s meaning. Just like humans, they apply semantic analyses to derive meaning to provide the most relevant responses.

If you are a local service provider, you should consider providing contextually relevant information. For example, if users are seeking your service in their vicinity, you can create location pages. For instance ‘TV repairs in Sheffield’.

Technical Semantic SEO Strategies To Consider

Site owners can improve their site’s semantic offering by taking the following technical semantic SEO strategies into consideration:

Optimizing alternative text - Alternative text provides the visually impaired with image descriptions. It is vital for accessibility purposes and also provides search engines with more context.

Implementing structured data - Structured data gives users and search engines more context. Google uses SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) features and structured data for knowledge graphs and rich snippets.

Semantic SEO and Internal Linking

Internal linking is one of the most significant aspects of semantic SEO.

Internal links help users navigate across pages of your site with ease. But, search engine bots also use them to crawl related pages.

Internal linking can thus help create semantic relationships between different pages on your site.

If you are considering using internal links in your semantic SEO strategy, here are some useful tips:

Internally linking content cluster pages - While topical clusters prove to be very useful when building more meaning into your site, internally linking these pages to and from one another to show their relevance is just as important.

Using Descriptive anchor text - The piece of text that takes users to the linked page is known as anchor text. Use anchor text that specifies and describes what the linked page covers. Rather than using generic anchor text like ‘click here’, try using natural language that gives users relevance. For instance ‘SEO tips’ linking to a page about SEO tips.

Summary

The sooner website owners adopt a semantic SEO approach the better because it is the way forward in search engine optimization and has been for a while now. With the establishment of these types of search engines, there has to be a comprehensive effort that takes into the semantic structure of the site and general topical offering.

While the Concepts behind semantic search may seem intricate, the semantic search engine optimization process itself is not. Several approaches to semantic SEO mirror the natural ways we use language in real life.

When we input a query in a search engine, we expect a response. But, the conversation doesn’t end with the reply. We might have more related questions or information to find out.

The goal of semantic search is to copy this natural language style, and semantic SEO focuses on facilitating it.

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