More often than not, SEO agencies treat Google like a simple machine. Match the right keywords and you’re good to go, right?
That might have worked in the past but, over the last few years, Google has seen a real push for more adaptive and understanding answers. In SEO this is often referred to as semantic searching. Why? Because it looks for nodes of information and seeks to understand the attributes that relate between them.
So, why does this matter and how can you use this to your advantage? Here are 3 important factors to keep in mind.
Natural Keywords Only
Google values natural keywords and seeks to provide content that speaks naturally and fluently. Because it is smart enough to understand the data on any given page and the relevant semantics, this means you should only focus on the natural keywords that make sense within the content.
For example, someone may be looking for “fashion clothes winter” but this is hard to include in a natural sentence. Of course, Google can understand that “fashionable clothes for winter”, while not the exact term, none the less includes the same topic. This is thanks to both understanding nodes and attributes alongside a greater knowledge of the web page.
In fact, this is already likely happening. If you use a service such as Ahrefs to analyse your own pages, you will see they rank for various keyword combinations that you haven’t directly included. Google can understand both broad and exact matches, so don’t over-stuff your content with keywords.
Semantic searching seeks to find information and data. When people ask questions, Google searches websites for the answer. Often, it can present this in its knowledge graph. IMDB.com is a perfect example of this: Google will let you know who started in any given movie without clicking on the link – but the link is still there for people who want to know more.
Of course, that’s for such high ranking sites that are long established and recognised as sources of information. For your site, it’s better to focus on your niche.
Finally, one reason to really keep an eye on semantic search terms in the future: voice operated devices. There are numerous such services already available, such as Siri on Apple and Cortana on Microsoft devices that use search engines to gather results.
Yet this creates a dynamic shift in the way people search. People are more likely to ask questions rather than blunt keyword terms. This makes semantic searching all the more important so the relevant information needs to be clear.
For example, businesses with physical locations need to make sure Google can pick up on their address. Remember what we said about knowledge graphs? This is an extension of Google’s existing strategy for local searches. If your address isn’t being picked up by crawlbots, it can’t be displayed on a map. When someone asks their phone for the nearest shop, restaurant or business, this will put you at a disadvantage.