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Semantic Search Strategies to Boost SEO

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Semantic Search Strategies to Boost SEO

Semantic search is a data searching technique in a which a search query aims to not only find keywords, but to determine the intent and contextual meaning of the the words a person is using for search.

How Does Semantic Search Works?

Semantic search provides more meaningful search results by evaluating and understanding the search phrase and finding the most relevant results in a website, database or any other data repository.

Semantic Search Strategies to Boost SEO

1. Provide value.

Google is looking towards AI and envisioning conversation as the next evolution of search technology. Google CEO Sundar Pichai even mentioned during the Google Assistant reveal, “We think of it [Google Assistant] as a conversational assistant; we want users to have an ongoing two-way dialog.”

Google needs a source of information for all of its conversations, a reference point, an expert friend, its trusty companion in the Wild West of the WWW. Become authoritative in your discipline, become the expert source that Google will reference in its conversations. Become that valuable source that drives connection, exchanges information, and provides visitors with some value.

  • Recommendation: Determine what you want to be known for. Answer the following questions, then create a killer organic search strategy based on your findings.
    • What are the types of keywords that you want to rank for?
    • Who is currently in that space?
    • What are they doing that makes them the expert?
    • How can you be 10X better?
    • Who is interacting with your content?
      • Are they existing customer or prospects?
    • How are users interacting with your content?
      • Are users converting?
      • Is this content targeting users early in the funnel (awareness and consideration) or later (conversion)?
      • Are they getting what one would anticipate out of the content (i.e. are they finding the answers they sought out by clicking on your content)?
    • How can you improve your users’ experience with your content, including their customer journey throughout the site?
    • How can you reach your target better at every organic search touch point your customer encounters?

2. Develop targeted content that answers your customer’s questions.

Create targeted non-brand content, which doesn’t interfere with your acquisition-focused online assets (Think: Don’t cannibalize traffic from your product pages). The idea is to create content related to the entity of your product line, which interests users and fills gaps in organic visibility. Become a valuable source of information for your customers, build your semantic authority in the “eyes” of search engines, and become search engines’ go-to guru on the topic via building robust, informational content using mixed media (images, graphics, and videos).

  • Recommendation:
    • Prioritize non-brand content with strong question/answer focus.
      • Tip: Google appears to prefer numbered lists or bulleted step-by-step instructions that succinctly answer questions.
    • Perform keyword research to determine opportunity for queries that are being searched with “how to,” “why,” and “what is” questions.

3. Structure sentences clearly and answer-based.

SEO writing is natural language writing. Content should use natural language. This simply means that content should make sense. With Hummingbird’s improvement on precision and semantic search, along with RankBrain’s machine learning ranking factor incorporated in 2015, also throwing in the growing popularity of voice search — natural language is necessary.

When creating content it is important to write in terms of entities which means more noun-focused sentences. Simple, subject focused sentences provide engines with more information. Try to structure sentences as Subject Predicate Object (SPO). This will make the content easier for users to understand, as well as for search engines to parse the information. The key here is to sound natural and construct your sentences with purpose, writing content that directly answers a question.

4. Structure your data to help bots parse content.

Structured data markup annotates information, which is already on web pages, to add clarity and increase confidence for search engines. Using structured markup not only enables search engines to better grasp content, but also can be used to signal a desire for rich search results. These snippets provide users with additional information about the contents of the page and can improve click-through rates (CTR) from organic search.

Make sure that all marked-up content is visible on the page per Google’s structured data policies. Google lists all active and in-use structured data markups with examples (check them out regularly, because they update all the time!).

5. Leverage internal linking.

Internal linking has long been a method of indicating topicality, supporting the user experience as they navigate throughout your site. Remember to use internal linking sparingly and only when it is in the best interest of the user.

  • Recommendation:
    • Identify thematically relevant internal linking opportunities to target landing pages.
    • Important pages should be referenced in your main navigation or global footer
    • Important pages should be referenced in your site’s XML and HTML sitemap
    • Add contextual links within pages to important pages on the site
    • Fix any links that lead to pages returning 3XX or 4XX status codes
    • Always link to end-state canonical URL and not a URL with a parameter

Takeaways:

  • Search engines are incorporating semantic signals in their results. This change requires webmasters to integrate synonyms and related content for each target topic.
  • Semantic search provides additional meaning for engines: data, spam, answering user questions, establishing more personalized results, and providing a more conversational user experience.
  • Semantic search high-level strategies: Provide value to your visitor, answer your customers’ questions, create content with structured sentences, and implement structured data.

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