Anyone involved in sharing content online, whether it’s developers, content writers, or marketers, are familiar with Search Engine Optimisation and its importance. While there are shifting guidelines, the goal remains the same: create content that is meaningful to people, and understandable to machines. Semantic Search, while still in its early days, is the next thing to watch.
Read on to find out why and how you can implement this in your online content.
What is Semantic Search?
Semantic search is a technique for data searching. The search query is not only about finding keywords; instead, it goes beyond that to consider the search intent and the contextual meaning related to the keywords. This adds a layer of understanding to improve the search results and present more relevant results.
Understanding Semantic Search
When we talk about creating content for both humans and machines, we’re saying it needs to be readable to both. The machine element has become far more advanced over the years, and as such the context of content has become important. When context can be identified, the content can easily be placed where it is intended to be. With a deeper understanding at the machine level, meaningful links between content can be made, which improves the user experience.
Search engines no longer require exact matches for ranking visibility. The algorithms are far more sophisticated today, so marketers and content creators need to keep that in mind for their strategy. Using a semantic search strategy can improve your SEO content and help meet people’s needs better.
First, consider the search intent. Far too many websites are considered showcasing their brand, instead of putting the user first by considering what they are trying to learn, find, or purchase. This is the primary focus of search engines, so make sure you’re catering to this by presenting the most accurate results.
Much like linguistics, semantics refers to the all-important use of terminology online, from the meaning of words to the relationships between them. In other words, words mean more than what they read, the meaning of the words is also very important. This takes us all the way to the history of online searches, in which keywords were the main ranking factor.
Having the right words repeatedly implied that the content matched the searcher’s query. This was easy to hack (referred to as black hat SEO), and people were stuffing keywords wherever possible to gain higher rankings. Even in cases where the content was relevant for the searcher, it didn’t make for very good reading. Thus, as the technology advanced, so too did the quality of search results. That brings us to today, where we’re seeing search engines that are more intuitive than ever.
Google Updates Support Semantic Search
So, how does this relate to searches today? Google’s updates over the years, particularly Knowledge Graph, Hummingbird and RankBrain are geared towards semantic searches. These updates not only improved the algorithm but also incorporated the use of artificial intelligence to analyse the top-performing search results.
Long-tail keywords became more of a focus when Google introduced BERT in 2009. This update is said to be the most important one in 5 years. With this, the search results are able to address phrases and present searchers with more relevant results and accurate information.
All of the aforementioned factors result in better search results and an overall improved user experience. This needs to be rolled out in conjunction with technical SEO elements for optimal results, like link building, site speed and optimised site structure. There is also the Google EAT principle, which stands for content expertise, authoritatively, and trustworthiness.
Optimize Your SEO Strategy with Semantics
This has led to the likes of rich search results and featured snippets. We see these as concise answers to a query in an online search. To optimize your content for this, you can ensure that your content contains the answers to these queries. Other ways to improve your semantic search SEO, you can:
- Go beyond keywords. Think about topic hubs and creating networks, both between your content and the search intent. This results in more comprehensive answers like complete guides doing better from an SEO point-of-view than a collection of shorter blog articles.
- Put the search intent front of mind, making the user experience centered on revealing the answer quickly, instead of focusing on keeping the customer searching through your website.
- Keywords are still important, however, so ensure these are featured along with relevant and related keywords (mix the informational with transactional and navigational).
- Include structured data in your content by adding schema codes. This helps the search engines to categorise the content.
- Study featured snippets and then incorporate your findings when creating content so that your content can feature (featured snippets are not necessarily taken from the highest-ranking search result).
Natural Thought Patterns Meet Better Searches
Semantic search is also closely linked to voice search. This is due to the fact that the way people ask a question when talking versus typing can be different. Voice searches tend to include longer phrases, casual language, and questions, whereas text-based searches are more direct. However, this is changing so that more natural language can be used to find relevant content.
When semantic search comes into play, the context allows you to factor in differences in tones and dialects, in the same way, that voice searches do. When you focus on direct word translations, searches can be ambiguous. This way of conducting searches allows for the search engines to discern various entities and interpret factors based on the individual’s demographics and interests.
Ready to Rise Up the Search Engine Results Pages?
Nexa is an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Dubai. Get in touch with us to improve your ranks on the search engine results pages. We’ll create a tailored SEO strategy for your business that includes a full-scale SEO plan, including the increasingly important element of semantic search.