No matter how great your content is, if you don’t get it optimized for search engine optimization (SEO), your target audience won’t see it. Whether it’s a blog, website, or portfolio, effective SEO is the only way to differentiate your brand in a crowded market.
For a long time, that was done through keyword research and targeting. You could search for the right keywords and keyword phrases that people searching for your content would use, then include them in your content. This shows the search engine that your page is relevant to the search users.
This simple approach is no longer enough. Search engines like Google use semantic analysis to understand human language and provide more relevant search results. Because of this, a single-keyword approach to SEO won’t cut it.
Semantic SEO considers the natural language processing and deep learning algorithms that Google uses to give searchers what they’re looking for.
What Is Semantic SEO?
In the early days of SEO, marketers and brands would try to get a high ranking using keyword stuffing, which is when you put as many keywords as possible into your content – no matter how repetitive or unnatural it sounded.
As expected, that didn’t yield high-quality content, and eventually, Google noticed and began penalizing.
Semantic SEO is a more innovative method of driving online traffic from specific keywords and content that’s highly targeted and valuable. The more authority, depth, and overall value a piece has, the more Google will drive traffic to it.
This requires more from you as a content creator. You can’t limit yourself to just one keyword or phrase, such as “the best marketing agency.” Instead, you’d need to consider what a search user may put in a search query surrounding that topic, such as:
- What is a marketing agency?
- Is a marketing agency worth it?
- Outsourcing your marketing
- Marketing agency vs. in-house marketing
And so on.
Rather than searching a page for the best keywords, Google now analyzes the page to see what content is providing the highest value related to the search.
The intent behind this isn’t to make things more difficult for brands and marketers – it’s to reduce the low-quality, useless, inaccurate, and misleading information that’s amassed online. By evaluating content on a deeper level, Google can provide better value and relevance to the user and clean up the internet at the same time.
Sure, it’s going to be frustrating and tedious in the meantime, but we’re all better off if we can cut out the low-quality content floating around the internet.
How to Use Semantic SEO
Semantic SEO is simple in its concept:
- Provide value to the reader
- Understand the search intent
The first part has likely always been part of your goal for your content – providing value to the reader. You don’t want to waste time with irrelevant or repetitive content.
Things get a little more complicated with the search intent. You have to get into a bit of mind-reading with this one, but it’s worth the insights you’ll get.
When search engines like Google scan content for SEO semantics, they’re considering the intent of the user. They’re looking for content that offers value, but they filter it through the persona of the search user, such as their language, their purchasing behavior, their past searches, and where they live.
Overall, the experience is more intuitive and provides a richer experience, and the best way you can create content for that is by understanding your audience on a deeper level.
Defining Your Audience
If you want to optimize your content for semantic SEO, you need to know why someone would search for your target keyword or keyword phrase. Once you know that, you can get ideas for what else they may want to learn about this topic.
For example, if someone was looking up the “best family dog breed,” you can make a few assumptions here. “Family” means a lot of things, but in context, it probably means kids. Your search user is probably a parent or guardian with young children looking to get a dog.
Now that you know this, you can think about what else may be helpful to the user, such as:
- Best dog breeds for children
- Child-friendly dog breeds
- Top family dogs
- Best family dogs for allergies
- How to choose the right dog for my family
So, even if the user was looking for the best family dog breed, now they have a lot of other relevant information to help them with the decision. This additional information is not just valuable to the user, it keeps the traffic on your site longer and increases the chances the visitors may explore what else you have to offer.
When you’re brainstorming related keywords and ideas, consider what you would want to know after you find the answer to your original search. The more you can anticipate the questions the user may ask and the follow-up questions, the better your ranking will be.
Best Practices for Semantic SEO
Now that you understand the concept of semantic SEO, let’s take a look at some of the best practices.
The most important consideration is that you want to restructure your content to focus on only topical, relevant content. Don’t worry about short-form content that addresses a niche topic – focus on comprehensive guides that have all the answers in one place.
Sure, this is more upfront work, but you’ll be rewarded with longer content that’s evergreen and has a higher ranking. If you can create this type of content and make it highly valuable, you may stay at the top of the Google search results page for a long time.
Long-form content takes a bit more planning than short-form content. Make sure you have an outline to keep your content organized and ensure you’ve covered all the pertinent information. Make sure to include all the follow-up queries you can think of, and include different variations on your page.
Using the example of the family dog, your variations might be:
- Best family dogs
- Best dog for kids
- Best dog for families
- Top dog breeds for children
This not only prevents keyword stuffing, but it will ensure you reach a broader audience of users looking for different variations on the same general concept.
Boost Your Ranking with Semantic SEO
Google and other search engines are trying to provide the most relevant and valuable content to users. Semantic SEO helps you gain an edge by ensuring your content contains useful information and addresses the user’s needs, boosting your ranking and traffic in the process.
Over the past decade, Liz has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to and mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.
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