Semantic Search: What It Is & Why It Matters for SEO Today

As search engines are rapidly evolving so is SEO forced to keep up. More than 10 years ago SEO was all about managing keywords and link building. New developments are however forcing a change within SEO. Whether you are a seasoned professional like Link Department or you are managing your own SEO this change is apparent. It is rapidly turning to understand the intent and word relationships as search engines are becoming more sophisticated. Today it is all about understanding and adapting to semantic search and understanding context. With the development of machine learning and natural language processing understanding and optimizing for these new circumstances becomes vital in SEO.

Semantic search – what it is

Today Semantic search is the attempt of search engines to create increasingly more accurate search engine results. This is achieved through working to understand the intent of the user as well as to improve understanding of the relationships and context between words in the query.  To succeed in this Google has invested a lot of time and resources. The goal is to adapt google search to understand different ways of human communication and languages and tones that people use. In fact, that means that machines should be able to better understand the way natural language works. Or put simple to understand language the way humans do.

Purpose from scrabble letters
Understanding intent and purpose is key in analyzing semantic search today

So, semantic search presumes that the machine should understand the context behind the query. Simply put to understand how people are viewing and using search engines in their intuitive and natural way, At the same time, it presumes that it should make distinctions between people, places, and things. It should also base the interpretation of the search query based on users’ and global search history as well as location and spelling variations. Ultimately the interface should seem more intuitive and provide a better user experience to the user.

The impact of Semantic search

This change in search engine abilities is influencing a big change in the way SEO works today. It is the new technological trend impacting marketing. Focus is shifting and new ways of optimizing your content become key. There are a few ways that SEO is impacted:

  • Rise in voice search
  • Focus shifts to Topics
  • Intent is key
  • Technical SEO becomes more important
  • User experience

Rise in voice search

Today’s trend is that voice search is becoming a dominant way of making inquiries. More than 30% of users are using voice search today. This is in turn leading to the change in SEO. The SEO effort now must be clearer and more to the point. It must answer the question immediately tackling the point in-depth.

So, you must strive to make more conversational content. Your web pages must be clear and provide concise answers on top. Other information can follow after that. So, you must make a more structured data set that understands and context and intent of the user to provide a clear and precise query answer.

Focus shifts to Topics

Preparing content rich in keywords is not enough with semantic searching. You should try to make a comprehensive set of information. It should provide in-depth coverage of the topic in the niche that you are dealing with. All of this content should be high quality.

So, try to make ultimate guides in the topic. Do not prepare pages that are different from each other and that seem unrelated. Try to make a complex set of information for the user.

Google search results on phone screen
Rank high by understanding the intent and use of search engines by users

Intent is key

Pay attention to users’ intent and behavior. Do not try to make keyword targeting but focus on making intent targeting. It is important to identify the intent for users’ search history.

This is possible if you analyze keywords and select them according to the intent of the search. This will allow you to use specific keywords that identify content that is targeted directly at the user’s intent. So you are not making content around an individual keyword, you are rather creating content around the defined intent.

Technical SEO becomes more important

Although the algorithms are becoming smarter Technical aspect of SEO is still important. Do not neglect these aspects of SEO:

  • Keywords still play a big part in ranking. So make content with proper use of keywords that fits naturally.
  • Link building still demands the use of high authority links. Also, try to create content that naturally attracts linking. Do not neglect or lose sight of the internal linking aspect.
  • Make structure data that can help both search engines and users to find your webpage.
  • Try to avoid getting error messages on your website. Keep these to a minimum.
  • Streamline your website to achieve a high loading speed and quick response. Compress images, lower cash, and optimize your website as a whole.
  • Optimize data structure to help search engines index your site better and faster. This will also help with understanding the continent. Well-structured data also help users to logically navigate your website.

User experience

Google is working hard on improving the user experience. The changes in search algorithms are the result of the goal. As Google is making this shift marketers should also strive to achieve this. Staying on top of search engine results is possible only through adapting to this change. So, the user experience must be the center of focus for marketers as well.

A laptop screen with writing
Creating content to enhance the user experience is the ultimate goal

In short

It is important to understand Google’s need to grasp the content of intent. It is key to managing your SEO with success today. So, semantic search should be at the top of the list as a major factor when creating content. Old SEO principles and tools are not enough to rank well anymore. As search engines are evolving to better understand context and intent this will become more apparent. This means that creating high-quality content focused on searchers’ intent is a must today. Understanding this will keep you and your SEO effort on the right track.

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