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What Is Semantic Search?

Search engines are too often seen as perhaps more mechanical than they have been trained to be – after all, the way in which we search has largely impacted the way in which SEO and search engines in general have changed over the years.  You only have to take a cursory glance at a number of Google’s algorithm updates over the years to appreciate that a lot of work goes into making sure that Google evolves with the times.  This means that, believe it or not, each and every one of us is in part responsible for the way in which we find things – and each other – via major search engines.

Google’s most recent changes to the way in which SEO work is focused on, for example, the platforms we use to search – namely, mobile platforms.  There’s much more of a focus on celebrating sites and pages that are easier to read on smartphones and tablets, meaning that anyone undergoing an SEO check-up will do well to keep a close eye on their mobile optimisation.  This is just one of the ways in which Google is ensuring that the act of online searching becomes more intuitive to the user experience and is therefore more useful.  Another way in which search has changed over the years – and in how SEO has had to roll with the punches – is semantic search.

Improving the Accuracy of Search Results

We may be quick to assume that searching via a search engine is completely autonomous and without much thought given to the user experience.  This, however, is something of a fallacy – as semantic search aims to improve the accuracy of results by showing a greater understanding of users’ thought processes.  You may well have noticed elements of semantic search in your own travels – how does Google know exactly who a given celebrity is?  How does it know the exact route to your favourite restaurant with just a few words?  It’s not magic – it’s semantic search – and Google has worked hard to code its algorithms to ensure that greater authority in listings is offered to websites and pages that genuinely answer questions in a meaningful way.

This is largely why the concept of keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO techniques have dropped off in recent years.  Google wants to ensure that users receive results that are relevant at all times to their searches, and this means that their experiences become more worthwhile and generally more constructive.  Google has ensured that the relationships between certain words are clearly understood by its inner code and, therefore, this means that SEO can become even more useful.

Better User Experience and Customisation

Semantic search impacts upon SEO in a highly positive manner – it means that clients can focus upon phrases and keywords that directly answer queries and concerns, and anyone looking to incorporate SEO into their web presence will be able to think a little more deeply than in previous years with regard to how they are perceived by the clients and how they can seek to gain more custom.  SEO in light of semantic search has had to evolve, naturally, but in the sense that it has had to seek out ways in which value can be added to the user’s experience.

Google thoroughly dislikes time-wasting websites and this is why semantic search exists – semantic search focuses on thought processes and a two-way conversation between user and search engine, enabling more genuinely useful answers to arise from certain questions being asked.  Becoming the official authority on a certain phrase, therefore, no longer relies solely upon the amount of times a keyword appears in a web page’s content – it relies largely upon how it used, and if it is used in an organic manner, Google is much more likely to favour it.

Reliable, One-stop Resource

Good SEO in the age of semantic search should therefore be tailored to favour the user that is asking questions – content should be written to directly answer questions that may be asked of it, in the way that, for example, the first line of a Wikipedia article will outright answer the most basic question about any given entity.  Good SEO in 2017 and beyond needs to appreciate that it should be used to provide a one-stop resource to searchers – and that this should never be undervalued.

What is Semantic Search?


SEO in light of semantic search has also had to evolve to focus largely upon structuring – in content as well as links and even sentences.  This means that good, structured sentences should always be employed, and that anything written for SEO should seek to answer a query, to inform a client or customer, and to do so with one or more key phrases or search terms in mind.  Organic content is extremely easy to write if you focus on offering a conversational style of writing – would you say all the words on your page aloud and it seem clunky or forced?  It’s likely you’ll need to rethink your way of writing.  Google’s focus on semantic search doesn’t just enable ease of use for searchers, but also ensures that websites are providing genuinely useful and engaging content to everyday people.  It’s in Google’s best interests that this occurs – consider how likely you would be to continue using their services if they were to feed you useless links full of text walls and irrelevant content?  The short answer is, of course, you’d probably look elsewhere.

Make Sure you Engage With the Relevant Customers

Google has come a long way from its beginnings over ten years ago and it is therefore all the more worthwhile to follow its lead on matters with regard to SEO and its understanding of semantic search.  Google are intending to create a two-way conversation between user and search engine, meaning that websites are essentially going to need to tighten up and structure their SEO to ensure that they provide worthwhile, wholesome answers that benefit both sides – customer and business.  Link-building, too, only enhances a website’s authority on a particular phrase – meaning that if you are interested in engaging with as many relevant customers as possible, it makes all the more sense to have a web design and SEO policy that understands and adheres to semantic search and all its nooks and crannies.

For comprehensive web design and SEO support that evolves with Google and its algorithms, call our team at SEO Co-Pilot today on 01246 540 869 or for more detailed queries please contact us via web form at your convenience!

Guy Tomlinson

Guy Tomlinson is the owner and founder of SEO CoPilot Ltd. As an organic SEO specialist and SEO trainer with over 15 years of experience, he has the knowledge when it comes to helping small businesses succeed online – and shares his expertise through SEO CoPilot’s blog (mentioned in Top SEO Blogs to Follow). Follow Guy’s profile on LinkedIn for more SEO Tips!
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