Semantic Searches: What They Are And Their Importance In SEO
SEO And Semantic Searches
Our way of using search engines has changed a lot in recent years. Instead of firing off keyword combinations and expecting them to understand us, we now know we can address them as naturally as if we were asking a person. And most of the time, the seeker understands us and can resolve our doubt. Is it magic? No, it’s a semantic search. Join me to discover all its secrets!
What Are Semantic Searches?
According to Wikipedia, “semantic search is a process used to improve Internet searches by using data from semantic networks to disambiguate queries and text on the web in order to find the most relevant results in relation to the demand of the user”.
The most outstanding characteristic of this type of search is that the exact keywords no longer count so much, but the meaning of the search is its intentionality and context.
They are the factors that surround the search and help search engines show more relevant results concerning the real intention of the user. For example, searching for “restaurants” in Madrid and Beijing will not see the same results.
The location is an essential element of the context, but it is not the only one. Aspects such as previous search history, date and time, language and others are also considered.
Entities In Semantic Search
A key concept to understand semantic searches is that of entities. For Google, an entity is a named “thing”, for example, a person, a place of reference or an object. The idea is that these entities replace traditional keywords.
Entities can be of two types: proper names associated with unique entities (for example, the name of a city) and common names. In general, if something is a noun, it can qualify as an entity in the eyes of Google.
In addition, Google can understand the relationship between entities, usually through sentences with a subject, a verb and a predicate. For example, it can be realized that the entity “Museo del Prado” is related to “Madrid”. It can also understand that two searches with different terms can refer to the same entity.
A critical approach to semantic SEO is to think about the entities that a text contains and how they are related to each other, always seeking to write natural texts that respond to users’ needs.
How To Do SEO For Semantic Search
We come to the heart of the matter: how can we adapt our SEO strategy to this new way of understanding the search, so our pages continue to position and receive visits? We’ll tell you the keys.
- Eliminate ambiguities: One of the classic search problems is ambiguity. For example, if a user types “Python”, it is not clear if they are referring to the programming language or Monty Python. If, in addition, it is not clear to Google which of the two things our website refers to, the result cannot be good.
Therefore, we must make Google understand which information entity our content refers to. We can achieve this by applying these two guidelines:
- Use synonyms and words related to the main keyword. Introducing synonyms and words from the same semantic field helps Google and other search engines better understand what we are talking about. In addition, it also makes the text much more readable and user-friendly.
- Use data markup. Schema.org is a structured data system created by Google, Microsoft, and Yandex to reduce ambiguity on the web. It is about directly indicating to search engines what content is about, for example, labelling it as “recipe” or “job offer”. You can add data markup to your website by directly editing the code or using search Console or specific plugins tools.
Rethink Keyword Research
Using keywords is less and less important in the SEO strategy, but that does not mean we should forget about them. Instead, we have to rethink how we research and use keywords.
“Classic” keyword research techniques, such as analyzing search volume using Google’s keyword tool, still apply. But instead of focusing on a specific term, we need to think more about phrases users type into search engines or ask voice assistants.
For ideas, I recommend that you complement your keyword tools with Google search results, related search suggestions, and Google Trends.
The evolution of SEO tends to abandon the more “artificial” techniques, such as keyword stuffing, and move towards generating a good experience for users.
There are no shortcuts: you have to add value if you want your content to appear well positioned in searches. Analyze what people in your target audience need, investigate what resources exist on the internet to solve that need and propose that your content is better than them. The investment of time and effort will be worth it.
One of your main goals in semantic search is to make both users and search engines understand precisely what you mean and to avoid ambiguity as much as possible.
Therefore, think about how to provide context to the information to make it easy to understand and relate to other things that the user already knows.
Do Semantic Link Building
Link building is one of the SEO techniques that have evolved the most in recent years. The techniques of buying and exchanging links, which used to be very popular, now not only do not work but are severely penalized by Google. Instead, here are tips for building semantic search-friendly links:
- Please note that the anchor text is part of the context and help Google interpret what content is linked to. Although we should not overoptimize them, it is advisable to try that the anchor text contains terms that refer to the central theme of the content.
- Although the anchor text is still important, Google is increasingly guided by other factors, such as co-citation (a document that links to two or more sites) and the co-occurrence that we mentioned in the previous point (the terms that appear in the same sentence or paragraph as the link). These elements help search engines understand what a link is about and act accordingly.
- Try to make links to external pages as good as yours or better, as you strengthen the relationship between their site and yours.
Increasingly, users enter a question directly into the search engine (or ask your voice assistant) instead of searching for keywords. In response to this trend, Google has started showing a “zero position” or featured snippet, highlighting the content that can respond quickly to user questions.
Therefore, when planning your content, think about the most frequent questions users have about the topic and structure the text to answer them.
Take Web Architecture Into Account.
Semantic searches consider each piece of content separately, how information is organized within your website, and how different pages link to each other.
Good planning of the architecture of your site helps Google better understand the different entities that your website refers to and optimizes the “crawl budget” so that Google can traverse the site more efficiently and therefore index it.
To better organize your website for semantic searches, keep these best practices in mind:
- Important pages should be linked from the main menu or footer.
- Add contextual links to the main pages of your site.
- Create and update a map of your site.
- Periodically review the links on your site and fix broken or return errors.
- Link to canonical URLs without parameters.