What Is Semantic Search and How does it effect SEO?

Today, backlinking and including keywords is not enough to rank your website higher. You need to focus on semantic search also, to generate the best possible result for your website.

What Is Semantic Search?
Semantic Search means a search engine's capability to understand natural language in the search queries as a human would. Before 2013, search engines could not understand the nuances of natural language, this is no longer the case. Now, Google can distinguish between entities and interpret searcher's intent based on a variety of factors including search history, location, spelling variations etc.


Semantic Search: History
Introduced in 2012, the Knowledge Graph was Google’s first step in developing the importance of entities and context over simple strings of words. Then, Google’s Hummingbird update, rolled out in 2013, focused on returning results of pages that matched the meaning of the search query rather than keywords.


How Does Semantic Search Impact SEO?
More users have turned to voice search with the rise of AI voice assistants. Optimising for voice search is different than traditional SEO. This has increased the influence of semantic search on SEO.


What You Can Do about It
  • Make sure you answer the query right on top of a webpage and include structured data to help search engines understand the context.
  • Don't create content just around keywords, instead think of of broad topics that can be covered in detail. You can create the "ultimate guide" on certain broad topics to have a comprehensive article instead of writing short articles about each aspect.
  • Create a list of keywords and separate them based on user intention. Suppose if a user is searching for "iPhones vs Android battery life", the intention is to compare and not necessarily buy. You can then create content that address this intention. Create content that clearly and concisely answers a common query at the top of the page before delving into more specific details.
  • Technical SEO like including long tail keywords, links, site speed and structure still matter as much as content. Google's algorithm is still not advanced enough to understand the meaning of a query on its own. Hence, focus on both optimising traditional aspects also.
  • Since Google is constantly making changes to improve user satisfaction, you also need to focus on the same. You can do this by improving page speed and having an optimised mobile site among many other things. Also, keep an eye on the analytics such as bounce rates and session duration to make changes as required.

In conclusion, you should have a high quality content that focuses on user intent and which is technically optimised for indexing and ranking.

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