Semantic search and semantic SEO is a term that has been swirling around the industry over the last year, but in 2015 it’s going to need to be something at the forefront of a small business’s SEO strategy. Plain and simple, while it might have been okay to ignore thus far, but as the web changes, semantic SEO is important to understand. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to create a semantic strategy and it’s something that can be implemented right away.

What Exactly is Semantic Search?

Semantic search is the way that Google and other search engines are moving when it comes to offering content on their SERPs. When using semantic practices, Google basically looks for synonyms of the keyword term as well as other context around the search query, and then offers users the best results based on those synonyms/ modifiers/context clues as well as the actual term. In other words, it widens the scope of the search for users.

Consider the following example:

  • Let’s say I typed in the search query “cheapest places to buy a house in San Diego County.” With semantic search, Google is going to offer results that are related to this search even if they don’t use any of the keywords. This means I will see results that use the terms that rank for “real estate” or “for sale” even though those terms weren’t initial in my search. It helps to give me the whole picture.

Of course some people might initially be nervous that semantic search will bring up irrelevant results, but the truth is that Google is smarter than you think. In the majority of situations, Google is going to help you by bringing up all relevant items whereas your search keywords alone would be limiting. In the past Google would only look at links and the anchor text associated with those links to get a clue about the subject of the content. As you can see, semantic practices change all that for the better because the bots will now have more information. Check out this article for more examples.

So what does this have to do with a company website? This is where semantic SEO comes into play, or optimizing a website based on this semantic logic.

How to Create a Semantic SEO Strategy

Semantic SEO means taking this mentality into account and making changes to your website to accommodate. In other words, think like a search engine in order to improve your results. Basically, the way that Google analyzes the meaning of pages is changing, so you need to change with it. Below are a few tips to optimizing your pages for semantic SEO:

  1. Always take synonyms and modifying terms into account. When you’re writing with a keyword in mind, think about what people may actually use to search for your article and then include those terms in your content. Continue your keyword research, but keep this in mind. I recommend creating a list of modifiers before writing your content.
  2. Try using similar words in your h1 and h2 tags, titles, and descriptions for the same reason you would do so in your content (number 1 above).
  3. Always make sure to talk with your writers. Your writers are going to be the ones who deal with semantic search directly, so it’s an important concept to start considering right off the bat.

I recommend using a few different tools to help your semantic efforts. Ubersuggest and LSI Keywords are both good options to give you synonyms and similar keywords if you’re ever drawing a blank.

Last but not least, many companies make the mistake of assuming that keyword research is obsolete or will be soon whenever they hear about semantic search. The truth is that understanding keywords is just as important as before, you just might not need to use them in your content as much as before. Google still considers the “keyword 0” as I like to call it, so keyword research helps you know where to begin.