There was a time when keywords dominated the digital marketing landscape. Marketers could produce short 500-word articles crammed with specific keywords and they would perform well in search rankings thanks to search engines’ simple lexical search systems at the time (matching content keywords with search term keywords).
A decade later however and this is no longer the case.
As search engines become more sophisticated in crawling and understanding content with semantic search tools, the emphasis has moved away from purely keywords in favour of topics and context surrounding keywords instead, which requires a new set of rules for content creation.
Keep reading as we explain what semantic SEO is, the importance of it, and our tips on writing content for semantic search.
What is Semantic Search?
Search engines have changed over the last few years.
Unlike lexical search which would simply match users’ search term keywords with content keywords, semantic search retrieves information based on the meaning and context surrounding the search terms.
It uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand queries and content, considering search intent and what the searcher is looking for when sourcing content.
What is Semantic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?
Semantic SEO is the process of producing and optimising pieces of content to satisfy semantic search, by ensuring content covers a variety of related, relevant topics with meaning and depth to answer search queries as accurately as possible.
This content is considered in-depth and information-rich, and is based on user intent, longtail keywords, and topic research to ensure it is relevant to the reader.
In doing this, search engines can better categorize the content and position it better in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), therefore improving user experience for them, and visibility for you.
Simply put, semantic SEO is about understanding the relationship between keywords and topics, and then contextualising them in content that is relevant and thorough. This differs from traditional SEO which would lay emphasis on keyword placement, with the meaning behind them being somewhat redundant to search engines.
Key elements of Semantic SEO writing
Semantic SEO content stands out for its depth and richness.
- Topic-orientated over keyword-orientated
- Longform content
- In-depth and rich in information
- Includes internal links
- Includes metadata describing what the content is about
- Addresses multiple related topics
- Includes longtail keywords
How does semantic SEO impact ranking?
Search engines like Google want to ensure excellent user experience for its customers, and semantic search is one of their latest tools to do this. By better understanding website content, semantic search enables search engines to provide the most relevant information to its users.
As a result, shortform content that answers only one question with little depth will no longer perform as well as longform, semantically optimised content. The more you prioritise semantic SEO, the better your content will perform in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and the higher it will rank.
Benefits of semantic SEO
Semantic SEO is an important marketing strategy and can reap many rewards if done correctly. Benefits include:
1. Improves search experience for users
The purpose of semantic search is to improve user experience by pairing their search terms with content that accurately answers their queries. As a result, semantic SEO helps to ensure excellent user experience by addressing their needs in meaningful, high-quality content.
2. Helps Google to understand and rank your website content better
Detailed content with metadata, topic-depth, and good structure helps Google to rank your website better. Read more about Google’s SERP ranking factors here.
3. Semantic SEO helps present websites as experts in topic areas
Due to the comprehensive nature of semantic SEO, this content naturally results in websites being perceived as experts in the topic they are writing about, both by users and by Google.
By addressing multiple related topics, Google perceives the content as having topical authority, and the more relevant questions you answer in your content the more reliable users will consider your content.
4. Increases internal linking opportunities
The rich content that results from semantic SEO and topic-orientated practices also results in more chances to include internal links which can help to improve SERP ranking, ultimately pushing customers down the buying funnel.
5. Increases click through rate and engagement with your website
Semantic SEO often results in more engaged visitors due to the use and relevance of specific longtail keywords which result in higher clickthrough rates.
Not only this, but the detail in the content, including internal links and longform content means users spend more time exploring your website, therefore increasing session duration.
6. Reduces low quality content that spams search engines
With the onus moving towards high-quality content that truly answers customers’ queries, the rise of semantic SEO will work to reduce low quality content that merely spams search engines with keywords and little else.
How to write for semantic SEO
Writing semantic SEO content requires research and understanding of users’ search intent to ensure it will answer their questions. You can do this by searching a keyword you’re targeting into a search engine and seeing related questions that come up. Alternatively, using SEO tools such as Semrush can help to establish relevant topics and popular questions around your topic area to include in your content.
- Understand search intent (user intent) before you start writing
- Research relevant and associated topics around topic area
- Identify common search terms and longtail keywords and work these into the content
- Consider semantic keyword clusters
- Structure your content with subheadings related to the associated topics
- Build external and internal link relevancy
- Make use of schema markup and metadata
- Think about making your content richer rather than longer
SEO is not what it was 10 years ago, and it is important to revaluate existing content on your website and future content strategies to ensure it is satisfying more advanced search engine features like semantic search.
As part of our SEO and content marketing services at TDMP we can support your business with content optimisation and production in line with current search engine features. For more information about our services contact us here.