Traditional SEO content structure has typically involved targeting key words and phrases. While this continues to be a reasonable strategy, site owners should be aware of another type of SEO that will become increasingly important in the near future: semantic SEO.
The word “semantic” is from the Greek semantikos, meaning “significant.” It is the underlying truth or meaning behind something. Google has been using a semantics-based approach to ranking for many years as an attempt to provide more relevant search results. It collects all sorts of information from a site in order to glean the piece’s purpose, not just repeated words and phrases.
Semantic SEO, then, is meant to boost rankings for a topic rather than a specific key word or phrase. This will become especially important as Google continues to expand its use of AI. It has already begun stateside testing of Search Generative Experience–a beta that auto-generates interactive snippets above a SERP. They even include helpful links with images and follow up questions.
Natural language processing, or NLP, is the way in which AI interprets language to a near human-like degree. This means it will begin to observe patterns in words and queries and understand relationships between them. In other words, AI generated search results will be based on semantics–the meaning behind the query.
This means that semantic SEO, much like AI itself, is the way of the future.
So, How Do You Boost Your Semantic SEO?
Just like there are ways to optimize content for traditional SEO, there are also a few simple ways to boost your semantic SEO. These steps are known as “semantic signals,” since they work together to tell Google what the topic is.
One of the primary ways Google discerns a piece of content’s meaning is through structured data. This means organizing your content in a way that clearly demonstrates its purpose. This is also a form of traditional SEO, since it enhances the overall user experience.
Structured data simply involves arranging information in a way that is meaningful. Google uses a recipe post as an example: it should include what is being made, the ingredients, the calories, cook time, etc, preferably under separate headings.
Instead of looking for one keyword or phrase, you should be using a cluster of related terms within the content. The changes are often minor but no less important in helping Google understand what your page is about. For example, let’s say the title of a blog post is:
How to Make the Best Christmas Gift Basket
You “cluster” topic would be “Christmas Gift Basket”
If you search that in SEM rush, for example, you get the following results:
Christmas Gift Basket ideas
Christmas gift baskets ideas
Gift baskets for Christmas
Christmas gift baskets for families
Those are the additional phrases you want to include in your piece as part of your semantics SEO strategy. They are basically synonyms for your topic, so there can be no misunderstanding what the page is about. Add them to the body of your article and sprinkle them throughout the headings, where appropriate.
Make Your Content Longer
If you have more to say on a topic, go right ahead. While word count is not necessarily integral to higher rankings, the more relevant and helpful information you can include, the more Google will recognize the content as high quality. Content length counts as another “semantics signal”–something that tells Google definitely what the meaning of something is on your site.
Answer Other Common Questions
When you search for your topic, you’ll often see a section pop up with “people also ask” as the heading. You click the downward arrow next to a question, and a brief answer from a longer piece of content shows up. If you can answer any of those questions and they are relevant to your topic, do it!
Likewise, scroll down to the end of the first results page. You’ll see little gray bubbles with magnifying glasses and bolded questions. This is google’s “related searches” section, and you also should be answering those questions whenever possible in your content.
What are the Benefits of Semantic SEO?
Semantic SEO helps create content that resonates with the audience, leading to increased user engagement and satisfaction. User experience remains key when ranking in search results.
You’ll Get More Traffic
By adding more key words and phrases through clustering, you will rank for more terms, which will direct more organic traffic to your site. Furthermore, if you answer those questions people also ask, your content may show up as a snippet or in a SERP feature.
People Will Stay Longer
Helpful information that is easy to access and answers not just one question but many surrounding a topic means people will read the rest of your article, or at least a majority of it. This decreases bounce rates and builds your authority on the subject.
Pre-empting the Algorithm
With the evolution of AI, search engine algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated. Semantic SEO ensures that your content remains adaptable to these changes, providing long-term sustainability.
What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
Using data to derive meaning is nothing new. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) was developed in the 1980s as a way to streamline information retrieval. It is a mathematical model that is used to classify words with both obvious relationships and more subtle contextual similarities.
LSI removes “stop words,” like conjunctions and pronouns, to isolate the main subject to be indexed. The remaining words are then placed in a Term Document Matrix (TDM), which is simply a grid that keeps a tally of how often each of the words is used in the documents within a data set.
For example, if you want to index the phrase: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
LSI will reduce it to something like: “work play Jack dull boy”
It will then create a TDM to cross reference the appearance of these words in various contexts across the documents being analyzed. A weighing function is assigned to help identify “co-occurrences” of words within the documents. One easy way to do this is to assign a “1” to text that has the word, and a “0” to those that don’t:
|All work and no play makes jack a dull boy
|Is play as important as work?
|Why is Jack a dull boy?
|What does play hard work hard mean?
The TDM will help assess patterns and relationships between words to understand meaning much more efficiently than analyzing individual words and phrases.
Although LSI does not have much to do with how websites are ranked today, it might be thought of as a precursor to modern search engines and how pages are indexed.
Outsource Your Semantic SEO Strategy
We understand that implementing the ever-growing list of SEO tactics to your marketing strategy can feel overwhelming. The experts at Serenity Digital are here to help. Let’s chat about how we can help your business rank higher in search results and earn more leads from organic traffic. Call or go online today to get started.