Leveraging Semantic SEO to Boost Your Site’s Traffic
Search engines have gotten smarter. Instead of simply matching keywords, modern search engines can use sophisticated algorithms to identify user intent and produce the most relevant results. To keep up with these advancements, SEO practices also need to get smarter. Semantic SEO has emerged as a critical tool in the quest for better search rankings.
Digital Marketers and Google Have One Goal in Common
You want to drive traffic to your website. More importantly, you want to drive the right traffic to your website. The real goal is to get people who are interested in the products and services you offer to look at your site so you can convert them into customers. If your site attracts people who have no interest in your offerings, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.
Google also wants to drive people to the sites they’re actually interested in. After all, that’s the entire point of a search engine.
Identifying user intent – i.e., what users actually have in mind when they type a query into the search bar – can help both digital marketers and Google achieve their goals. Semantic SEO is part of this.
How Google Search Results Work
Google says that Google Search works in three stages:
- The first stage is crawling. Google uses automated programs called crawlers to download content from the internet.
- The second stage is indexing. Google analyzes the content and stores the information in a large database.
- The third stage is serving search results. When someone uses Google search, Google returns information that is deemed relevant to the query.
When it comes to serving the search results, Google does much more than merely match keywords. Hundreds of factors, including the searcher’s location, can be used to determine which results are considered relevant.
Over the years, Google has refined this process to increase the accuracy and relevance of search results. An important update was the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013. According to Search Engine Land, this update allowed Google search to focus on the meaning behind search words and enabled more conversational searches. In an example given, you might search “What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” Google can understand the intent – you want the location of a store near you – and provide relevant results.
The Importance of Semantic SEO
Because Google’s search engine no longer focuses purely on matching keywords, content creators can’t focus purely on keyword stuffing. Instead, they need to focus on creating content designed to match user’s search intent – in other words, content that provides information that people want.
The terms “semantic SEO” and “semantic search” refer to keyword usage and search results that focus on the meanings behind search entries. According to HubSpot, Google uses semantic search to identify and disqualify low-quality content and to understand sites in terms of topics instead of keywords, among several other things.
A Single Keyword Won’t Cut It
SEO experts still use keywords, but the way that keywords are used has changed. You can’t just pick one keyword and repeat it a bunch of times. For one thing, with so many websites, competition for common keywords has gotten fierce. For another thing, to earn a high ranking, you need to develop content that caters to semantic search.
Instead of a single keyword, you might end up with a group of related keywords. This helps develop the meaning and put the terms into context in a way that Google’s algorithms can understand. It also helps you target user intent rather than just trying to match very specific phrases that a person might search for.
Develop Quality Content
While semantic SEO may make SEO more complicated, it can also result in content that is more engaging, developed and relevant. After all, keyword stuffing was never known for producing quality content.
And quality is important now. In another article, we looked at how Google’s Search Quality Raters evaluate search quality rating using the E.A.T. guidelines – that’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google wants its search engine to provide quality results that match the user’s intent. If you want your site to rank, you need to provide content that fills this need.
- Focus on user intent. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What types of things might they search for?
- Find groups of related keywords to include in your content. You can use tools like Jaaxy to find related keywords and Surfer SEO to create SEO-friendly content.
- Provide engaging and useful content. In addition to helping with SEO, quality content can reduce bounce rates and boost conversion rates.
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