What is Semantic SEO?
Semantic SEO is the process of giving more meaning and thematic depth to web content. This way, you help Google crawlers understand your content better. You also help them to consider your content as high quality and therefore rank it more often in SERPs.
In 2011, when Google and other search engines began moving to artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand searcher intent and the meaning of a query, they began working with entities and concepts rather than analyzing questions and web pages based on keywords.
As search engines got smarter and began to explore the true meaning of words, content owners began to not only create web pages, but describe them using linked open data and semantic web technologies. This was made possible by the creation of the schema.org vocabulary, an initiative launched in 2011 by the world’s largest search engines (Bing, Google, and Yahoo!) to implement a common data schema structure for describing web pages.
SEOs today can learn about schema in the context of Semantic SEO and study the evolving aspects of schema. For example, displaying stars in search results for products can increase clicks and is worth learning more about.
Why Semantic SEO?
Search engines need context to properly understand a search query and provide relevant results. Contexts are created using words, phrases, and other combinations of words and links found in knowledge repositories such as encyclopedias and large text corpora.
Semantic SEO is a marketing technique that improves website traffic by providing meaningful metadata and semantically relevant content that can unambiguously answer a specific search intent. It is also a way to create clusters of content that are semantically grouped into topics rather than keywords.
In a famous Google patent about context vectors, an example is given with the word “horse”. One and the same word, but with different meanings in different contexts: a “horse” is an animal for a horseman, a working tool for a carpenter, and sports equipment for a gymnast. In semantic search engine optimization, content is cataloged and organized around each context, much like Wikipedia, so that machines can understand and evaluate its uniqueness.
What Are The Benefits That Come From Semantic SEO?
Those who take advantage of semantic technologies to develop a semantic SEO strategy benefit from amazing results. Our team’s research has shown that structured data is compelling from a digital marketing perspective.
For example, in analyzing the design-focused website freeyork.org, we saw the following improvements in metrics after three months of using structured data on the website:
- +12.13% new users
- +18.47% increase in organic traffic
- +2.4X increase in page views
- +13.75% increase in session duration
Semantic SEO is here and now, and understanding what’s changing and the opportunities this new approach to search engine optimization offers can help your business grow exponentially. Not only will the search engines understand your content better, but you’ll be providing users with relevant information that will more easily turn them into customers. This will give you a strategic advantage that will keep you one step ahead of your competitors.
How Can You Optimize Content For Semantic SEO?
As we mentioned earlier, Semantic SEO allows your content to be smarter, easier for search engines to understand, and contain more information that is relevant to your audience.
At this point, the question is how best to optimize your web pages for Semantic SEO.
The first step is to understand the intent of the search. What users are searching for and how machines understand that search query.
When you start with a topic, you can see intents by entity, search volume and competition.
The second step is to figure out the entities and topics that this search query focuses on, related concepts that can be added, and any opportunities for structured data.
Third, you need to optimize the content to cover these topics and mention these entities on the page. We also need to look for internal links.
Then you add the markup to the page. This is where you add the structured information about your entities and any other structured data you may have.
And finally, make sure you have good title tags and headings and alt text of images and all those things that play a big role in traditional SEO.
Learn more about Semantic SEO and how you can optimize your content to get more traffic and visibility on Google and other search engines, read this web story.
Is The Web Ready For Semantic SEO?
A more semantic Web does not fill pages with synonyms or semantically relevant words. It is, as Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
The semantic Web is not a separate Web, but an extension of the current Web in which information is given a well-defined meaning that enables computers and people to work together better.
Just a few months after schema.org was launched, Amit Singhal, at the time SVP of Engineering at Google, published a major contribution that changed the game: Introducing the Knowledge Graph: Things, Not Strings. There he said:
“Take a search query like [taj mahal]. For more than four decades, search has essentially been about matching keywords to queries. To a search engine, the words [taj mahal] are just that – two words.”
“But we all know that [taj mahal] has a much broader meaning. You might think of one of the most beautiful monuments in the world, or a Grammy-winning musician, or maybe even a casino in Atlantic City, NJ.”
“The Knowledge Graph allows you to search for things, people, or places […] This is a critical first step toward the next generation of search that taps into the collective intelligence of the Web and understands the world a little more like people do.”
You can build a Knowledge Graph from a SERP, by leveraging the WordLift Add-on for Google Sheet. To learn more about this 3-steps process, watch this video.
Topic Maps in Semantic SEO
The web is changing, becoming more and more semantic. SEO is also changing and becoming more semantic. This is because search engines have evolved and are moving more and more towards reading content on the web. Of course, that has also changed the way we create content, especially if we want to rank better in the search engines. So we no longer have to think in terms of web pages and keywords, but in terms of relationships.
Ted Nelson, the pioneer of the Internet, spoke of intertwingularity to represent the idea that all things in the universe are deeply interconnected.
Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged, people keep pretending they can make things deeply hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can’t. Everything is deeply intertwingled.
Based on the relationships between search intentions, the search engine prefers a content in positioning by calculating the distance between the vectors of meaning. What we can do is design an architecture that makes the search engine understand the relationship between different ideas and concepts. So it’s a matter of creating topic maps.
Topic Maps help you know what to write about and how to structure your content. Learning how to create a perfect topic map will greatly improve your chances of being found on Google and other search engines.
To learn more about how to create texts in the age of fragmented reader experience, read Teodora Petkova’s article.
What is a Topic Map?
A topic map is basically a visualization of interrelated concepts. It allows you to see, starting from a topic, all the entities that are related to that topic. This way you can clearly see which entities/concepts/ideas have already been covered on your website, and you can discover new opportunities by understanding what content you can add and how to create it.
In this scenario, the Content Model becomes an essential part of your SEO. It is able to make your content understandable for search engines on the one hand and for your audience on the other.
Structuring your content model highlights your content and its underlying relationships so that search engines can recognize you among hundreds of pieces of information, making you more visible to users who meet the search intent related to your business.
The richer the content model in structured data, the more chances you have to target the exact users who are interested in your business. With WordLift you can select the information and connections that are truly relevant to your business and create an increasingly specific and refined Knowledge Graph to highlight only the facets that matter most to users and your company’s online identity.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What is SEO Semantic writing?
Semantic SEO copywriting is a content marketing technique to rank on semantic search engines. In traditional SEO copywriting, an editor targets a specific keyword. In semantic SEO copywriting, an editor starts from a broader range of topics and tailors the content to include semantically relevant terms and phrases that help readers understand a topic, similar to reading content in a wiki.
From a content writing perspective, one practical way to do this is to create a vocabulary of terms and questions surrounding your target topic. This way, you can begin to think strategically about the content you will write.
Learn more about SEO semantic writing by watching the free Webinar by Teodora Petkova!