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Semantic Search: What is it & How Does it Affect SEO?

A graphic saying: Semantic Search: What Is It and How Does It Affect SEO?

Google’s Knowledge Graph has been growing in size and complexity over the past few years, but did you know semantic search could be one of the most important additions yet?

Semantic search is a relatively new technology that has been gaining traction in the past few years. Google has been using it more and more to provide better search results for its users.

Google search for the term "what is semantic search"

So what is semantic search, and why should you be using it?

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about semantic search and show how it can benefit your SEO strategy.

Semantic Search Explained

Semantic search is a type of search that understands the user’s intent and the relationship between concepts.

In other words, semantic search is a way of understanding what a user is really looking for, and providing them with the most relevant results possible.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is one of the most well-known examples of semantic search in action. It uses data from a variety of sources to provide users with information about people, places, and things.

Data sources for Google's knowledge graph.

The Knowledge Graph has been growing steadily since it was first introduced in 2012. In 2015, Google added 3.5 billion new entities to the Knowledge Graph. That’s a lot of data!

With the addition of semantic search, Google has become even better at understanding the relationship between concepts. This helps them provide more relevant results for users’ queries.

Google understanding of relationships between concepts, using the simpsons as an example.

Source: datacritics.com

For example, if you search for “Homer Simpson,” the Knowledge Graph will show you information about his parents, family, career, and his life.

If you search for “The Simpsons” the Knowledge Graph will show you information about his wife and children and their lives.

This is an example of semantic search in action. By understanding the relationship between concepts, Google is able to provide more relevant results for users’ queries.

This may leave you wondering, how does Google’s search engine work? Let’s dive in deeper.

How Does Semantic Search Work?

The four factors that make up semantic search.

Semantic search relies on artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to understand the user’s intent.

AI is used to identify patterns in data. NLP is used to understand the meaning of the text. Together, these technologies help Google understand the user’s intent and provide more relevant results.

Google’s semantic search algorithm is constantly learning. The more data it has, the better it becomes at understanding concepts and relationships.

This is one of the reasons why the Knowledge Graph has been growing steadily over the past few years. As Google collects more data, its semantic search algorithm gets better and better.

It works like this:

1. A user enters a query into Google.

2. Google’s semantic search algorithm analyzes the query.

3. The algorithm looks for patterns in the data to understand the user’s intent.

4. The algorithm provides the most relevant results for the user’s query.

A google search asking where homer simpson works.

Why Is Semantic Search Important?

Semantic search is important because it helps Google provide more relevant results for users’ queries.

When you provide relevant results for your users, they’re more likely to find what they’re looking for on your website. This can lead to higher traffic and engagement levels.

Essentially, semantic search is important because it can help you improve your SEO.

How Is Semantic Search Impacting SEO?

Semantic search has a big impact on SEO. In the past, keyword stuffing was a common SEO tactic. This involved cramming as many keywords into your content as possible, regardless of context.

However, semantic search has made keyword stuffing obsolete. Google’s semantic search algorithm is designed to understand the meaning of words, not just match keywords.

This means that you can’t improve your SEO by cramming keywords into your content. In fact, doing so will likely have a negative impact on your SEO. Curious about what you should be doing beyond SEO? I have a blog post on just that subject.

Instead, you should focus on creating quality content that provides value to your users. If you do this, Google’s semantic search algorithm will recognize your content as being relevant and useful.

Semantic search is changing the way SEO is done. The days of keyword stuffing are over. Now, quality content is more important than ever.

Google continues to change the algorithm, which means your content marketing strategy should be about more than just keywords. The most significant change, known as Google Hummingbird, emphasized a more human approach to search queries. As the focus continues to move in this direction, it’s more important than ever to add value to everything you put on the web.

A timeline of Google's focus on the user experience.

There are a few ways in which semantic search can benefit your SEO:

1. Helping you rank for long-tail keywords.

2. Improving your click-through rate (CTR).

3. Generating more leads and sales.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.

1. Semantic Search Can Help You Rank for Long-Tail Keywords

A graph showing the benefits of long-tail keywords.

Source: Softwaretestinghelp.com

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that users are more likely to use when they’re closer to making a purchase.

For example, “mens running shoes size 10” is a long-tail keyword.

In the past, it was difficult to rank for long-tail keywords because they were so specific. However, semantic search has made it easier to rank for long-tail keywords.

This is because Google’s semantic search algorithm is designed to understand the meaning of words, not just match keywords. This means that you can rank for long-tail keywords by including them in your content in a natural way.

You don’t have to stuff long-tail keywords into your content. Just mention them in a way that’s relevant to your topic.

2. Semantic Search Can Help You Improve Your Click-Through Rate

As a marketer, you should be focused on how to improve your click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percentage of people who click on your listing in the search results.

A high CTR is important because it shows Google that your listing is relevant and useful. This can help you rank higher in the search results.

Semantic search powers the items below to help improve your CTR. They include:

  • Rich snippets: Semantic search can help you create rich snippets for your listing in the search results. Rich snippets are pieces of information that appear under your listing, such as your rating or the price of your product.
  • Knowledge Graph: Google’s semantic search algorithm also powers the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is a box that appears on the right side of the search results, containing information about a particular topic. If you can get your listing to appear in the Knowledge Graph, you’re more likely to get clicks. This is because people are more likely to trust information that comes from Google than from a random website.
  • Sitelinks: Semantic search can also help you get sitelinks for your listing in the search results. Sitelinks are links to other pages on your website that appear under your listing. Having sitelinks makes your listing stand out from the other listings in the search results, which can help you get more clicks.

3. Semantic Search Can Help You Generate More Leads and Sales

Semantic search can also help you generate more leads and sales through higher rankings in search results.

The higher you rank, the more likely people are to click on your listing. And the more people who click on your listing, the more likely you are to generate leads and sales.

It’s also about putting pages in front of people who will get the most use out of them. So, for example, if you have an e-commerce product page, semantic search puts your page in front of those who have the intention to buy, not just to learn about a product. So even if your page has less traffic, ideally, a larger chunk of it is going to be audiences motivated to convert. See the example below.

A google search of mens running shoes.

Best Practices To Optimize For Semantic Search

Here are a few best practices for optimizing your website for semantic search:

  • Use natural language: When you’re writing your content, use natural language. This will help Google’s semantic algorithm understand the meaning of your words.
  • Think like a customer: When you’re choosing keywords, think like a customer. What would they search for if they were looking for your product or service?
  • Use structured data: Structured data is a way of organizing information on your website. It helps Google understand the meaning of your content. You can use structured data to create rich snippets and knowledge graphs.
  • Get listed in directories: Directories are websites that list businesses in a particular industry like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Business Page. Getting listed in directories can help you rank higher in the search results.
  • Use social media: Social media can also help you rank higher in the search results. This is because Google takes social signals into account when it’s ranking websites.
  • Create topic clusters: While it’s tempting to focus on solo keywords, topic clusters do a better job of showing Google your site is a well-rounded authority on a given topic.

FAQs

What is an example of semantic search?

Google’s semantic search algorithm is designed to understand the meaning of words, not just match keywords. This means that you can rank for long-tail keywords by including them in your content in a natural way.
For example, if you’re a plumber, you could rank for the keyword “how to fix a leaky faucet” by writing an article about how to fix a leaky faucet. You don’t need to include the keyword in your title or in every sentence. As long as Google can understand the meaning of your content, you’ll be able to rank for that keyword.

Does Google use semantic search?

Yes, Google uses semantic search. It acts as one of many signals that Google uses to determine the ranking of websites in the search results. It uses it to understand the relationship between words to offer results.

What is semantic search in NLP?

In Natural Language Processing (NLP), semantic search is a technique used to match documents with user queries by understanding the meaning of the words in the query, not just the literal match of the terms.
This is different from traditional search engines, which match user queries with documents based on literal keyword matches.

What are the benefits of using semantic search?

Some of the benefits of using semantic search include:
– improved understanding of user intent
– more relevant search results
– ability to rank for long-tail keywords
– increased traffic and leads
– better user experience

What is the difference between semantic search and latent semantic indexing?

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a technique used to index and retrieve documents based on the similarity of the words in the document, not just the literal match of the terms.
Semantic search is similar to LSI in that it understands the meaning of the words in a document, not just the literal match of the terms. However, semantic search goes one step further by also understanding the relationship between the words in a document, not just their similarity.
This means that semantic search can offer more relevant and accurate results than LSI.

Conclusion

Semantic search is a game-changer for SEO. If you’re not already using semantic search as part of your SEO strategy, you’re missing out.

You can use semantic search in paid ad campaigns, blogs, social media, and so much more. Start using semantic search, and you’ll see a boost in your rankings, CTR, leads, and sales.

How well do you think your brand is doing with semantic search?

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