Search engine optimization or SEO is not something you can keep doing the same way over and over again. Leveraging search engines to optimize your business in connecting with potential customers is an ongoing process that requires new strategies and approaches. Technology changes and how humans use that technology changes too. Your SEO strategy can only remain relevant if you also are changing it up. Semantic SEO is one way to stay on top of your SEO strategy and keep connecting your business with customers via your digital marketing.
SEO is a marketing strategy with the purpose of improving your ranking on search engines and increasing the organic search traffic to your website. It is a strategy to boost your digital footprint as a brand along with strengthening the digital connection between you and your clients or potential clients. It seems simple enough, but you need to apply technical know-how, strategic thinking, and creativity to get the most out of your SEO. Incorporating a strategic process to create and organize structured content can make your SEO marketing more effective. Semantic SEO can help you do that.
SEO is more than keywords and backlinks. These are vital components, but they do not make up a full strategy. Putting together an effective SEO strategy merits a deeper dive. Semantic SEO is a marketing strategy that leverages search engine technology to meet your SEO marketing goals. It uses keywords and backlinks as components within a larger model of structured content that can drive your marketing forward through increasingly sophisticated search engines.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at:
- What semantic SEO is
- How semantic SEO works
- How it differs from other SEO methods
- The process of creating semantic content
- How to optimize your structured content and data
- How to use a topical map to strengthen your efforts
- The benefits of semantic SEO
How Do You Define Semantic SEO?
Semantic SEO is a method for creating and organizing your web content so it provides better search results and a higher search engine ranking. The emphasis is on structuring your content to build authority on a particular topic and outperform your competitors on essential keywords within your industry. Semantic SEO incorporates a process for building web content, so it has more meaning and topical depth. This in turn makes it better understood by search engines to provide users with relevant information in relation to their search criteria.
As one of the goals of digital marketing is to boost your ranking on a search engine results page (SERP), you want your company to rank high on that SERP when a user searches for certain terms about a certain topic that falls within your industry know-how and expertise. The web content you create needs to be optimized to gain that higher ranking. SEO is the means to that end. To optimize your content so a search engine works for you and your business, you need to create content that appeals to the most used search engines. Semantic SEO is a method for building meaning into your web content that search engines understand and respond to.
The most used search engine in the world is Google, with 80% of the search engine market. In the US, Bing and Yahoo take up the next two spots in the market, respectively. These popular search engines use semantic web data embedded within web pages to analyze the content on those pages and provide better, more relevant search results for users. Semantic SEO leverages how this analysis takes place by structuring your web content so search engines read it as being of high quality and having relevant meaning. This in turn helps your business rank higher on Google and other popular search engines.
A semantic search engine promotes quality semantic content. The goal of a Semantic SEO strategy is to create that semantic content and assist Google in better understanding what content is on your site so Google notices it, promotes it, and connects you with your customers and clients.
How Semantic SEO Works
More than a decade ago, Google and other search engines began using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) on their platforms to continue to develop better and better ways to understand a user’s search intent. These search engines began to employ a semantic analysis to better understand a user’s intent and return more relevant SERPs. As search engines became more sophisticated, so did SEO strategies. SEO changed from simply embedding keywords into web content to creating a common schema structure for describing web pages. Semantic SEO uses this schema structure as a foundation for content creation.
The semantic analysis used by Google and other popular search engines takes deep learning and NLP into consideration. It strives to understand human language at a deeper level in order to provide better search results for users. Google’s ranking algorithm is much more advanced than it has ever been, and it is only going to continue to advance. Semantic SEO helps you match up with this advancing technology by considering this deeper learning and NLP used in Google algorithms. This consideration is an important strategy if you want to rise above your competitors with your digital marketing.
How Does Semantic SEO Differ from Other SEO Approaches?
A search engine is only as good as the results it provides users. Google would not have 80% of the search engine market if it was not providing users with a SERP that is useful and relevant. The content that is promoted by Google needs to be deemed usable for users of Google. Their business depends on providing relevant and useful search results. Your web content needs to be structured so it appeals to how Google determines quality content. This means that the single keyword approach to SEO is insufficient.
To understand a user’s search intent, search engines require context. Semantic SEO improves website traffic by providing context through meaningful metadata and content with clear intent. From the perspective of the search engine, the connection between a user’s query and your content needs to be straightforward, with no room for guessing. Content that is organized around context and not just a word is much easier for a search engine to evaluate. You want the evaluation of your content to be high in quality, uniqueness, and meaning.
The search engine is not only looking for keywords in the content to gain understanding and find the meaning and relevance of a web page. Content is not just about the words that are used to create it because human communication is not just about the words either. How we use the words we use or why we use them is what complicates human communication and understanding. Context, tone, and manner of expression matter, as well as the paragraph before and after. It all works together to impact meaning. Semantic SEO encompasses this more human-like approach to understand web content and rank it appropriately.
Your job in Semantic SEO is to structure your content to give it more depth and meaning so Google can find it, understand it, and give it a higher search ranking. Better understood content is just better content and ranks more often and higher up on SERPs. So what is this structured content and how do you create it?
How Semantic SEO Content Is Structured
Google is built to discover the intent of a user’s search and organize information found on the web to produce a SERP. Google does this by connecting entities related to the topic being searched. Semantic SEO structures content in much the same way. Creating organized content to clearly connect entities on a topic is the foundation of semantic SEO.
What’s an Entity?
If structured content is organized around topics and entities, it may be useful to define an entity. To do this, it can be even more useful to use the definition used by Google to describe this building block of semantic content. Google defines an entity as anything that is “singular, well-defined, and distinguishable.” This can be anything tangible or intangible, including a color, an idea, a date, a place, or even a person. It is what is described in your content.
Structured Content Equals Topical Authority
Semantic content is created using a relevant architecture that focuses on the depth of meaning and topics instead of words. Semantic keywords derive purpose from a user’s search intent on a particular subject or topic. All necessary entities and connected terms and facts that belong to a given topic are presented in hierarchical structure to build topical relevance and factual accuracy.
Semantic content is not about answering a single question about a singular subject. All the questions that may be asked, needed, or belong to a topic are considered and presented in a hierarchical structure. In semantic SEO, not only one possible search intent is met by the content, but all possible search intent is met. This creates more topical authority and better, more comprehensive content for users. It also supports different types of content, including text, visuals, applications, videos, surveys, and downloadable files.
Topical Authority Equals Better Strategy
Semantic SEO organizes content around a user-journey experience instead of randomly generated individual content searches. By producing topically relevant content for the search intent for a specific topic, a company can gain:
- Brand awareness
- A consistently high search engine ranking
- Connections within a subject network
This all equals an SEO strategy that can put you ahead of your competitors.
Writing Content Using Semantics
Writing content from a semantic point of view requires tailoring from a broader range of topics and the use of semantically relevant terms and phrases. It takes some strategic thinking because it is necessary to explore the interconnectedness between relevant entities. It takes creativity to then write content that makes straightforward connections seamlessly.
One way to think about it is to take the role of the user. Let’s consider you are searching for a paint roller. The search engine can then determine the topic of your search is home improvement. This may then bring up related topics of paint, wallpaper, paint brushes, home color trends, home improvement stores, and businesses that specialize in interior design, home repairs, or even landscaping. The user now has a whole list of relevant results around the topic of home improvement. Now if your business happens to be interior design, creating content that connects to home color trends, the best paint rollers for interior walls, or insights on specialized home repairs gives you topical authority in home improvement. All those connections are how semantic content works.
Semantically relevant terms and phrases help users understand a topic. When writing content using semantics, you are creating a vocabulary of terms and questions surrounding a given topic. You are strategically thinking about all user queries and subheadings of a topic and placing them in a hierarchical structure.
Remember that Google understands topics through quality and depth. Context for each entity is created through connection to other entities. Linking assets allows Google and other search engines to contextualize information retrieval and improve keywords searches.
In the end though, content needs to be ultimately written for the user and not the search engine. Above all, clearly, well-written content that is organized and comprehensive will rank well on the SERP.
Optimizing Your Content for Semantic SEO
Better, higher quality content is better understood from a search engine perspective. It is also what users respond to the most. Your content needs to contain relevant and in-depth information for your intended audience. Matching keywords to queries was how SEO began, but it has been evolving beyond that for over a decade. Optimizing your SEO content means creating meaningful content that focuses on quality information and connects concepts and ideas around relevant topics. Optimization considers:
- User intent
- Topics and entities
- Topical depth
A Few Pointers in These Areas to Optimize Your Content
Understand the intent of the search and analyze user intent or likely intent. There is a connection between what a user is searching for and how a search engine understands what a user is searching for. If you start with a topic, you can derive all the entities of a search intent and impact search volume. List queries used to investigate a topic hierarchically and match corresponding content with search intent.
Topics and Entities
Cover your topic by figuring out entities and subheadings that a search query focuses on. You can then find opportunities to add related concepts. List all entities within a subject and determine the number of separate contents created on a topic.
Determine how much of a subject to cover in your content. The trick is to create topical depth and cover all the relevant points within your content to provide all the information a user would want to know.
Structure the markup to the page to add structured data and information about different entities. Analyze and create good title tags, headings, and alt text of images. Determine anchor texts to link to. Create and specify meta tags, headings, keywords, and anchor text URLs.
Use different forms of keywords to improve relevance and topic authority. You can mention different entities on a page and add in internal links. Link hierarchy contents to each other.
Examine your competitors’ pages in SERP layout. Take a look at the function and content of competitor web pages to glean how they are connecting concepts and entities.
Topical Maps and Entities in Semantic SEO
Since getting your content to rank higher in search engines is not about web pages and keywords, but relationships between entities, it is important to map out these topical relationships. One way to do that is through a topical map.
A topical map is a blueprint for breaking down your topic into categories and entities. It can help you define the content you need to create to position your company’s brand and topical authority.
This blueprint creates an architecture that reveals the relationship between ideas and concepts, not just words. It is through these interconnections that content takes on depth of meaning. It also helps support straightforward intent. It can help you know both what to write about and how to structure it.
A topical map can help you:
- Clearly visualize interrelated concepts, entities, and ideas covered on a website
- Find opportunities to add content
- Better create content that is relevant, interconnected, and meaningful
How to Create a Topical Map
The main purpose of a topical map is to build topical authority for your company’s brand. A topical map is a process of research, organization, and creation. Research keywords within your topic to find all the relevant talking points, then organize that data into topic clusters. From these clusters, create content that matches up with the search intent of your topic keywords, then build out relevant internal and external links.
This type of content model becomes an essential tool for your semantic SEO in creating high-quality structured content with depth of meaning. It is a win-win for content creation as it gives your audience rich, in-depth content but also gives search engines that straightforward connection to understanding your content for a higher ranking.
The Benefits of Semantic SEO
Now that you have a better understanding of:
- The meaning of semantic SEO and how it works
- How it differs from other SEO methods
- How to create, structure, and optimize structured content
- How to improve your efforts using a topical map
Then you probably also have a better understanding of what the benefits of semantic SEO can be for your digital marketing strategy. The benefits of semantic SEO cannot, however, be understated. Structured data is more interesting and compelling from a digital marketing perspective. If you want to boost your digital marketing outcomes, structuring and strategically organizing your content to be understood from the search engine’s point of view is imperative. That’s what semantic SEO does. Your digital marketing will produce better results by employing it.
These better results include:
- Increased users
- Increased organic traffic
- Increased page views
- Increased session duration
This all adds up to an effective strategy that supports the growth of your business. By helping search engines better understand your content, you provide users with more relevant information. You can then more easily turn a search user into a customer or client. A great semantic SEO content strategy can give you a strategic advantage over your competitors.
Why It Matters
A semantic SEO strategy creates richer, higher-quality content within a structured model that elevates your company’s digital identity. It highlights relationships where ideas, information, and concepts become more important to better target users interested in your business. Semantic SEO leverages what makes semantic search engines effective to boost your digital marketing efforts and make them more effective. That’s what matters most.