Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo seem to become more and more human-like each day. They are constantly adapting their algorithms to the way people are searching. Semantic searches are a prime example of the intelligence of search engines. This blog post will explain what semantic searches are and how to use SEO semantics in your content strategy.
What is Semantic Search?
Semantic search is the way in which search engines analyze the intent of users when they complete a search. It’s impossible to predict the exact keyword phrase every person is going to use when conducting a search query. There are countless ways a search might be completed. Because of this, search engines have made an effort to look beyond the actual keywords being searched. They have adjusted their algorithms to look at the context and what the user is trying to find from their search query. Also, if a user types a Google search, and is unsatisfied with the results, Google will pay attention to how they revise their search query. This way, Google can better understand the intent of the original search query. This search engine evolution impacts search results and changes the way we practice SEO.
Examples of Semantic Search
To explain semantic search, we can use a very simple example. Go on to your favorite search engine, and type “restaurants near me.” After looking at the results, search “close restaurants.” Were your results the same or very similar? Search engines recognize you are looking for places to eat within short proximity of your location. This is why we see identical or very similar results when we search two different phrases.
There are other examples that qualify something as a semantic search. Asking Google a question in a conversational tone is considered a semantic search as well. For example, the question, “How many people does the University of Michigan stadium hold?” will bring up the same results as “Michigan stadium capacity.” Other examples include misspellings in search queries and searches regarding individuals like celebrities.
Here is one last example of semantic search: Let’s say I want to find a place to get some donuts. Here are some queries I might use:
- donut shop
- donuts near me
- donut store
- doughnut and coffee cafe
- where to get doughnuts
- best doughnuts near me
Search engines will look at the countless variations of this search and will learn to show the websites people are looking for.
How Does Semantic Search Affect My Content?
Semantic search will affect your content strategy if you are practicing on-site SEO. Having only one strategic keyword in your content is becoming less effective as search engines change their ranking methods. When writing your content, keep in mind there are many different ways to craft a search query that could show your website in the results. Search engines are now able to understand the intent of the searcher, which will affect the way you write your content. While you are writing your content, think about someone’s intent. What do you think they want to find when they get to your web page or blog post? You should also identify the different keywords someone may use in searches when looking for content like yours.
Are you enjoying this blog post? If so, be sure to subscribe for occasional email updates from our team!
Should I Still Practice SEO?
You should not stop practicing SEO for your website, but you should change your methods. SEO is still vital to the success of increasing a website’s rank in search results. The most effective SEO professionals will adapt their strategy to accommodate for the way search engines have changed. Review the content on your website. On each page or post, do you believe your content is satisfactorily answering the questions someone might have had when they landed on your website? The answer should be yes. If it isn’t, then you will probably want to update the content, so it matches with the perceived intent of the website visitor.
How to Practice SEO Semantics
This may seem like a daunting challenge, but you may already be practicing SEO semantics without even knowing it! Let’s talk about how to intentionally practice SEO semantics so you see great results.
Find Related Keywords
When you do your keyword research, you will come up with a list of commonly searched keyword phrases for your industry. Many of these keywords will be very similar to each other. Also, they are often searched by the same user who is trying to get different search results. Using the “restaurants near me” example, a keyword research tool will likely recommend “close restaurants” as another keyword phrase. Keyword research tools often recommend these types of similarly searched keyword phrases. When writing your content, you should try to include these semantically related keywords. This way your website is more likely to show up for a variety of search queries.
Use the Right Keyword Research Tool
The key to practicing SEO semantics is to use a keyword research tool that recommends keywords. Most tools automatically do this, but some do not. Before implementing SEO semantic tactics, check the keyword tool you are using to ensure it will benefit you. If the tool you are currently using does not recommend related keywords, consider changing tools so you can practice SEO semantics more effectively. If you are looking for an alternative keyword research tool, you may want to read our blog post titled 7 Tools to Use for Keyword Research.
Use Semantically Related Keywords in Your Content
As mentioned above, you have probably unintentionally practiced SEO semantics in your content before. Any time you have rephrased your keywords to avoid being repetitive, you have likely helped your SEO semantic efforts. This idea of rephrasing is a great way to look at SEO semantics. Simply rephrase your keywords by using related keywords and you are on the right path.
Don’t limit yourself to only using two key phrases in your content. You should do your best to weave different keywords throughout your content when appropriate. Although, be sure you continue to avoid keyword stuffing (the overuse of keywords), as it is a blackhat SEO tactic. Just focus on writing good content that naturally includes different key phrases.
Next Steps for Using SEO Semantics
The use of semantic keywords to practice SEO may seem rather challenging, but it really is not. If you are already practicing SEO, you should start using semantically related keywords in your content today. Those who practice SEO semantics receive an average of 25% more clicks from search engines than those who do not practice it. If done correctly, more people will be able to more easily find your content through search engines, which will help increase your website traffic.
We hope this blog post helped give you a general idea of SEO semantics. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this blog post, please feel free to fill out the form below so we can contact you. We would love to set up a time to address your questions.
You should now have a basic understanding of how semantic SEO works. But, if you want to really enhance your website content, try predicting the next questions your website user will ask. For example, in this blog post, we explained what semantic SEO is. But, we didn’t have to talk about keyword tools and how to find semantically related keywords. However, once you finish reading this post, you would likely do a search on “tools to find semantically related keywords.” We predict this need, and as a result, we jumped ahead and included a section about that very topic. Not only did we talk about keyword tools, but we even provided a link to another article that has seven different keyword tools you can check out. Try implementing this same type of practice in your content. Look at your readers’ future. Predict what they will likely search next. Then, include that in your content.