Semantic Search Means Semantic SEO: What It Means for You

Understanding all of the different terminology in the SEO industry isn’t easy, but it’s possible, slowly but surely. In many cases, an SEO term refers to something that businesses have been doing for years. There comes a time when a term needs to be associated with a great strategy or SEO-way of thinking, and semantic SEO is the latest.  Experts and Webmasters are now throwing around the term, and it has people wondering: What is semantic SEO, why do I need it (if I’m not using it already), and how is it going to work for me?

Understanding Semantic Search Definitions

The idea of semantic SEO started because of the concept of semantic search (makes sense, right?). Several experts in the industry have all have tried to define semantic search, and it does help to hear a few different definitions of the concept in order to really wrap your head around it. Below are a few different definitions you might find around the web:

Mashable says:

  • Semantic Search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results.

Moz author Matthew Brown used a definition from Tamas Doszkocs of WebLib:

  • Semantic Search is a search or a question or an action that produces meaningful results, even when the retrieved items contain none of the query terms, or the search involves no query text at all.

Search Engine Land author Barbara Starr:

  • Semantic Search, as it is used in current parlance is essentially the notion of using or exploiting metadata to improve search on documents.

Higher Visibility author Amanda DiSilvestro (yep, that’s me!):

  • Semantic Search uses synonyms and related words to offer you the best results. You might type the word “car” into Google, but if there is a great result that uses the word “automobile” Google is going to use it when pulling up results. It’s not even only synonyms—it also means using words that are related. Therefore, if you type in the search term “car” a supporting term “garage” might show up in your results.

Now because search exists, SEO exists, so because semantic search exists, semantic SEO must also exist. Although this is not a new term, it’s just now beginning to gain some traction amongst small businesses as a new and innovative way to look at the industry.

How Semantic SEO Works for Semantic Search

Semantic SEO means optimizing your website to include all of these related and supporting terms. In the example above, you can go even further with the term “car” and connect it with modifiers like “rental” or “insurance.” The possibilities are endless. As a Webmaster, what you want to do is create a semantic theme to each of your webpages. You can do this with just a few simple steps:

  1. You need to consider all of these different supporting terms, modifiers, synonyms, etc. Complete keyword research with this mindset and see what you can find.
  2. Use these keywords terms in all of your aspects of SEO such as titles, content, h1 and/or h2 tags, etc.
  3. This does not mean that using keywords is an outdated practice or won’t work. Semantic factors are just one small element that Google will look at when ranking sites. All of your previous SEO practices should still remain in place.

Are you familiar with semantic search and semantic SEO? If so, what do you do to try and adapt and optimize for SERPs?

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