When Google launched in 1998, it handled roughly 10,000 searches a day which works out to about 3.65 million per year. Compare that to the estimated 2.6 trillion searches in 2020 and you’ll see why Google’s job is far more complex in today’s world.
One of the biggest changes in how Google’s algorithm works is semantic search. Let’s look at what it is and how you can leverage it on your website.
What Is Semantic Search?
The word semantic relates to an underlying meaning of a word or phrase. Semantic search applies this to the way Google and other search engines interpret the information on websites. It helps them to decide and select what pages to show the user in the results.
Semantic search tries to understand the searcher’s intent rather than simply matching the keywords they’re searching for.
“Today, search rankings aren’t just about choosing and using a target keyphrase. It’s about the broader meaning of that phrase and the intent of the searcher.”
Semantic Search vs. Keyword Search
In their infancy, Google and other search engines matched specific keywords. This is known as keyword search or lexical search.
When someone searched for a particular word or phrase, the search results were filled with pages that contained that specific word or phrase. The pages that included the keyword more times generally ranked in the top positions. This led to keyword stuffing which made the pages virtually unreadable for humans like you and me.
Google’s goal is to provide searchers with high-quality results so they keep coming back. Semantic search is about showing the searcher pages about the topic they’re searching for. This makes it much harder now for websites to “spam” search engines with low-quality, keyword-stuffed content.
How Semantic Search Works
Semantic search is all about deciphering user intent. When Google indexes a web page, it analyzes the content to determine the general topic. It’s not based on a particular word or phrase but the overall structure of the page.
On the other side of the search equation, Google considers the underlying intent of a search, not just the words it contains.
For example, if someone enters the search phrase “who played Han Solo in Star Wars” the top results will be about Harrison Ford, not a bunch of pages and blogs that contain that specific question. There will also be pages about the Star Wars movies, the Han Solo character, photos, and various other things that are directly related to the search query (but not necessarily the keywords). Google thinks that the answers provide the best result to the request by the user.
How to Implement Semantic Search On Your Website
The following SEO strategies will help your site to leverage semantic search.
- Focus on high-value content that provides useful information for your visitors (yup, absolutely critical)
- Create content that answers common questions from your customers
- Write naturally, with human readers in mind rather than search engines
- Use structured content, known as schema, to help search engines recognize what your content is about
- Use internal links to cross-reference related content on your website
The key to using semantic search successfully is to make the content on your site easy for the search engines to index and understand.
Where to Turn for Help With Your SEO Strategy
Optimizing your website for semantic search isn’t complicated but it can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the intricacies of how search engine intelligence works. If you’d rather focus on your business and leave the SEO to experts, we’re just a click away.
We offer a range of website design and content marketing services that will get you set up for optimal SEO and visitor experience.
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you grow your business.