From harnessing AI for SEO to adapting to voice search, marketers need to become more innovative as technology and search engine algorithms evolve. One way to do this is by focusing on gaining a more complex understanding of user intent and the semantics behind search queries.
This is critical since search engines use machine learning to understand what consumers are searching for and provide them with content that is relevant to their search. Understanding and answering these queries in a way that is relevant without being too narrow is a good strategy to get to the top of SERPs. In this article, we’ll take a look at semantic search, its benefits, and how marketers can use semantics to optimize their content.
What is semantic search?
In short, semantic search (SEO) means optimizing content by understanding why a user is Googling something. The most common way of optimizing content is to identify common and related keywords and spread them naturally throughout the content.
However, before doing keyword research, you should first know what your reader is trying to search for. Then, follow up with any related questions that might arise in their mind while reading the piece. Think of Google’s suggested questions – these questions not only help people find the answer to their original query but also allow them to dive deeper into the search topic.
For this reason, marketers should create content that offers more than just one, narrow answer. This is not to say that they should go off-topic, as search engine crawlers may not categorize the content correctly if it isn’t relevant enough. Instead, before writing your piece, conduct a search query and see what related questions come up. Then, try to answer those in your content.
You can also generate an automated SEO report that closely examines your website and identify how well your site has been optimized. This will help you assess the effectiveness of your SEO strategies and adapt accordingly.
What are the benefits of semantic search?
There are several ways to use semantic search to your advantage. Here’s how semantic search can help your site:
Makes it easier for Google Bots to rank your site
Semantic search involves analyzing the underlying intent and context of phrases in the content and what the creator conveys to the reader. Semantically rich content shows search engines what pages are relevant to search users and helps search engines avoid confusion over the subject matter.
Enhances customer relationships
Semantically rich content means that your customers will find everything they need on your website. They don’t need to conduct additional searches or go on other web pages to get a complete solution to their problem. This makes your content more valuable and improves user experience, making them more likely to return to your page for future queries.
Make SEO campaigns more cost-effective
Semantic research means that all your content will be optimized for keywords, related searches, and relevant suggestions. This means you won’t have to spend additional costs on less targeted marketing strategies, as Google will already be ranking your content on top of SERPs.
This should be a welcome fact for businesses that have become more strapped for cash as a result of the pandemic. According to a recent study conducted by Freshbooks, 21% of business owners stated that they would be prepared to cut their marketing expenditures before anything else in the event of falling sales like last year during lockdowns. Assessing user intent is just one example of how big data can make marketing strategies more efficient for the benefit of online businesses.
How to make your content rich in semantics
Here are some strategies to put theory into practice and optimize your site for semantic search:
Play to the algorithms
Search engines are constantly improving their algorithms and refining their methods to identify relevant content and provide better experiences for search engine users. When search engines are ranking content, they consider things like voice queries, rich search information such as meta and featured snippets, page load times, etc.
In addition, in 2012, Google introduced a new way for its algorithms to identify and categorize relevant content through the “Knowledge Graph.” The Knowledge Graph leverages semantic search to understand the context of your content and helps users find information based on keywords, related search words, and questions. It is also one way for Google to answer search queries directly on search engine pages.
Switch to topic research
Many content writers are still making the mistake of using extensive keywords to get their content to rank better. However, search engine crawlers now rank content by understanding the underlying context, so marketers and content writers need to leverage semantic search.
This means that content creators should extensively search their content topic and the intent of the users. What is the reader looking for? What solutions are they trying to find? Are they looking for answers or more information on the topic?
You can use analytics tools to automate the process, such as Google Analytics, or other paid and free options. You can also search the topic on social media platforms or sites like Reddit to see popular, relevant searches around the subject.
These research tools can also help you with your semantic search:
Ahrefs Content Explorer
This tool helps content creators find the most popular kind of content around the topic they’re searching for. This may be based on social shares, organic traffic, backlinks, etc.
Answer The Public
This is one of the most helpful tools to have in your marketing arsenal. It takes Google’s suggested questions to a whole new level by showing the user intent behind each article.
BuzzSumo Question Analyzer
This platform helps marketers discover content ideas, identify related influencers interested in the content, and provide relevant insights into what’s popular among customers.
According to online marketer Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada, most website builders come with SEO tools and are also very user-friendly.
“Every business website today is an SEO website, whether you realize it or not,” says Stevens.
Make your content more conversational
Voice search is a search query that users use by speaking rather than typing out their questions, such as using an AI assistant like Alexa. It is a more convenient way of searching queries as it doesn’t require the hassle of typing, but it’s also more informal, which leads to new challenges for SEO. Voice search also receives a lot of local searches, so making sure your content is optimized for relevant geographic locations can also help in this respect.
This is why it is vital that the content of your article has a conversational tone and is optimized for specific keywords. Given that half of the searches are done by voice, articles need to have one straightforward question at the beginning of the article so search engine crawlers can identify your content as relevant.
Include structured data in your content
Structured data is tabulated in graphs, tables, meta-text, etc. to provide additional, more detailed information to search engines about your content. It helps search engines categorize your articles, making them discoverable to target audiences. This kind of structuring can also help optimize your site to improve page load times, make your site more accessible, etc.
For example, if your blog is about a book on marketing, your structured data could add a meta-description of sixty words about the book’s author and a brief description of the book that can help Google rank your content on top of SERPs.
Web users can be fickle, and people tend to lose interest and exit websites quickly if they see repetitive or irrelevant content. Likewise, your web content will be more readable if it offers targeted, complete solutions with every sentence. These tips can help guide you in optimizing your content with semantic search to boost your site’s rankings and help grow your web traffic.
Guest author: Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed — among other intriguing things — to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.