Search Engine technology has evolved over the last decade, and Semantic Search is more than essential for SEO now. Learn what it is, how it works, and how to optimize your content for it.
Till 2010, the best strategy to dominate online via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was to obtain as many backlinks as one could and include as many keywords as possible.
We hate to break it to you, but this is not the case anymore.
Now in 2023, SEO has changed for the better. Gone are the days when reverse-engineering content used to rank higher, and identifying keywords was only enough. As search engines have become more advanced, the focus has now shifted towards understanding intent & behavior and the context behind them, i.e., semantics.
A lot of search engines, including Google, are making continuous attempts to satisfy searchers with the most accurate results. This is where semantic search steps in. Semantic search is one of the most significant advancements in search engine technology which assists search engines in interpreting the true meaning behind a search query rather than simply matching keywords. Let’s learn more about it.
What is Semantic Search?
Semantic Search is a concept that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the intent behind a user’s search query and infer their intention. It describes the attempt of a search engine to generate the most accurate search results for a query raised by searchers based on intent, context, and relationship between words.
Semantic search is important as:
A user says and searches for queries in two different ways, tones, and language.
Search queries are ambiguous in nature
It is crucial to understand the relationships between words
Apart from this, the relationship between entities and personal choice is also very crucial.
How does Semantic search work?
A holistic approach to semantic search leads us to two factors that guide how it works:
A user’s search intent: The term ‘search intent’ is the reason behind performing a query. In Layman’s language, it is why you Google something. Users perform a search query when they want to buy, find or learn something new.
For instance, if you search for inbound marketing, Google will come up with search results related to the definition of inbound marketing, which explains what it is, as the intent is quite broad.
However, if you search for ‘how to get started with inbound marketing,’ the search results will differ. Google will now not provide the definitions of inbound marketing as your search intent is different.
So content marketers and agencies or professionals offering SEO services Florida need to lay a lot of emphasis on intent when selecting keywords and crafting content. This is because even if you have some content that ranks well on the SERPs, if it does not match the search intent, users will leave the page, and there will be no conversions. They must optimize content for topics and not just keywords.
The semantic meanings of terms searched: The concept of semantic search has its foundations branching from semantics, i.e., the study of the meaning of words and phrases in different contexts and the relationship between the words. However, when it comes to search, by semantics, we mean the relationship between a search query, related words, and content available on search pages. Combining all these factors helps search engines comprehend what is the meaning of a search query beyond a literal translation so that it can display results that relate to the context.
So when you choose keywords for content, experts recommend creating keyword clusters (or a group of related keywords). These keyword clusters are directly related to semantic search as they make certain that a piece of content covers a broader range of the topic. A wider range of topics covered in the content will also help you get multiple keyword rankings on one page.
Apart from these two main factors, there is another set of factors that can affect semantic search. Have a look-
- Featured snippets: The idea behind featured snippets is to provide the clearest and most practical answer to the user.
- Rich results: Rich results also affect semantic search via content (for instance, images).
- Voice search: Voice search queries are usually direct. These include the natural language of the searcher, longer phrases, and mostly question words that lead to how the search engines produce results.
- RankBrain: RankBrain algorithm is based on machine learning technology. It aids Google in understanding the query’s first instance set as well as related ideas, phrases, and synonyms.
- Hummingbird: The Hummingbird algorithm update was focused on providing better results on SERPs for voice search queries, conversational language, and searches that are intended for specific people.
How does Semantic Search impact SEO?
Semantic search can have a huge impact on SEO. As search engines can comprehend the true intention behind a search query, professionals offering SEO services in Florida or anywhere else in the USA are required to lay their focus on the creation of content that matches the search intent.
Voice search: Voice search depends heavily on semantic search. Understanding the user’s intent is crucial for providing accurate and relatable answers, as most search technologies, such as Google Home and Alexa, intend to respond to natural language queries.
As the same principles apply to voice optimization and semantic search, they are interrelated as well. SEO professionals must concentrate on creating content that will answer specific questions when users use natural language.
Make optimization of topics a priority:
For semantic search engines, you must shift your focus from optimization for individual keywords to optimization for topics. This means that a piece of content must cover various aspects of a topic chosen rather than a single keyword.
Semantic Search: How Does Google Use it?
Google always strives to provide its users with the best search experience possible. The motive of their algorithm updates over the years has been consistent in decreasing the amount of spammy and irrelevant content by giving more importance to pages that meet user expectations. To do this, the search engine uses semantic search to:
- Recognize and rule out low-quality content from SERPs.
- Get a better interpretation of user search intent.
- Formulate accurate answers to questions.
- Determine what information is relevant to retrieve from the semantic web.
- Focus on topics instead of keywords to understand websites and pages.
- Integrate Google technologies such as Hummingbird, Knowledge graph, BERT, and RankBrain, where semantic search plays a key role.
- Format the data appropriately for inclusion in the search results of a query.
- When a search intent is not clear, connect the query with all possible meanings.
How Should you optimize your content for Semantic Search?
If you are an SEO expert looking forward to optimizing your content for semantic search, you are required to prioritize the user. Below are a few ways to do that:
- Understand the user’s intent in a better way: You need to understand the category of intent to modulate your content.
For instance, if you wish to learn more about the benefits of ergonomic chairs, Google won’t provide you with transactional results as it can comprehend that the intent is informational.
Thereby, you need to create different types of content for different types of search intents. A nice way to approach this is by creating content pillars.
Lay more focus on topics rather than keywords: As Google now processes like a human, it is crucial to have content that covers a wider range of topics than specific keywords. This method carries weight because people now search in a conversational tone, and Google makes its best attempts to match these queries with what it thinks is an appropriate answer.
Use structured data: Structured data refers to an organized collection of data that aids search engines in understanding your content. Your chances of getting rich snippets—search results that show additional information like ratings or reviews—are also increased by structured data markup. Markup (how the code is written) is important as it assists Google in understanding how it should categorize the content, and that’s how it will get data to show rich snippets.
Build links that show relevance: Topical relevance can be demonstrated via internal links and backlinks. These links also help Google to understand the content better. It can take a lot of time, effort, and patience to secure external links. However, the work can take less effort if you execute a solid internal link-building strategy, as you can now make changes on your own. Internal links are also just equally important as backlinks from other sites, particularly when showcasing the topical relationship between two pages.
Use Semantic HTML: Semantic HTML is a build-up of elements that provide their meaning to search engines. For example, you can write text in HTML that will look like a heading on your page. However, until you tag this text with a specific HTML code for a heading, Google won’t know that it is actually a heading.
Correlation between Semantic Search and E-E-A-T
Earlier, Google used the equation E-A-T as authority and relevance signals for good-quality content. Now that they have realized that it isn’t enough, they have introduced E-E-A-T. The extra ‘E’ here stands for Experience. It is the newest addition that appeared in the December 2022 update by Google for Quality Rater Guidelines.
Experience: It is the knowledge a searcher expects from content served by SERPs. For instance, if you search for “how to repair a faulty washing machine,” you will expect results from a washing machine repair professional.
Expertise: This relates to the quality of the content. Google looks for and ranks the content which is well-explained and researched.
Authoritativeness: By authoritativeness, we mean that the content must be from a source that can be trusted for its accuracy.
Trustworthiness: This is about reputation. Are you producing content from a reliable source? Is it even accurate? Has it been verified or checked by some experts or organizations?
Note: Professionals must be aware of the fact that Google uses human Quality Raters to assess pages and websites as per specific criteria. This assists them in knowing which content should be ranked up in SERPs and which is to be demoted or not shown at all.
Latent Semantic Indexing
Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI, refers to a technology supposedly utilized by search engines to understand the right meaning of words in a query posted by a user. This technology sees the context in which a word appears and makes attempts to understand the term’s implied meaning and how it relates to other terms.
There is zero evidence that shows Google is using LSI, which is an old technology. The technology was created in the 1990s and was not intended to be used by any of the search engines. LSI is quite slow and needs a great amount of computing power to operate.
Modern search engines such as Google make use of semantic technologies, which are faster and even more powerful than LSI. Technologies like semantic search focus on comprehending the meaning of a complete query rather than individual words.
Frequently Asked Questions for Semantic Search
What is the correlation between Semantic SEO and SEO?
Semantic search is an intrinsic component of Search Engine Optimization. Various search engines, including Google, make use of semantic technologies to get a better understanding of a search query’s meaning and get more relevant results. If you optimize your content as per semantic search, the right people will be able to see it. Thereby, your visibility and rankings will improve.
Does semantic search only affect search?
Semantic search has the power to change how search understands the way we search for information on the web. Thereby, it also changes the way it understands the information which is stored in the search index. This means that the semantic web is the umbrella term of which semantic search is a component.
Is semantic search a technical process?
Well, the answer to this can be both a yes and a no. Semantic search needs a structured data markup at a very strict level. However, they help minimize the requirement for coding. Due to this, semantic search indexes a significant portion of unstructured material in a structured data format, doing a lot of the labor-intensive job for you. As you can see, the procedure is complicated and imprecise, so your website will benefit from anything you do to make it clearer and simpler.
Do I require a social presence?
Yes, for semantic search, you require a strong and constant social presence. In the semantic web, identity plays a central role in attributes like reputation and trust. All of them relate to the social web. A social media presence is essential for an online business.
The central point of semantic search is to understand the intent behind a user’s query. Here, Google’s E-E-A-T criteria come around as an essential aspect. By assessing content based on experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, it can determine which content is most relevant as per the query and should be offered to the user.
Talking of SEO, if you optimize your content for semantic search, your visibility and rankings will improve. For this, you need to understand E-A-T and craft content which is written by an expert and is well-researched and authoritative.
So if you are looking forward to getting your content optimized via premium SEO services, we at New Vision Digital can assist you. We are undisputedly the best SEO agency USA to count on for your business and SEO needs. We have a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who can help you get your way with semantic search. Get in touch with us to learn more about our SEO services.