Search engines are focused on constantly improving their ranking algorithms. In the past seven years, search engines have shifted from a keyword-based matching algorithm to semantic search. This new way of ranking content gives priority to context and intent over simple text string / keyword matches.
Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past. To make sure that your website ranks high on search engines, consider the semantic implications, as well as the type of content that you create.
This post will cover what it is, how it works, and the advantages of using semantic mark-up on your website for improving organic results.
What is Semantic Mark-up?
Semantic search refers to the process that search engines use to display results using multiple resources.
Using machine learning, the search engines:
- Pull information from multiple databases
- Calculate the relevance of the content to the anticipated search intent
- Compiles the best and most relevant results for the search query.
Since semantic search considers multiple sources to deliver search results, it is better than keyword-based searches.
Search engines also try to create a link between the previous individual searches of the user.
For example, in case someone searched for ‘main election results’ in the United States yesterday but searched for only ‘main’ today, Google is likely to display election results in the search results today too.
How Semantic Mark-up Works
After the Hummingbird update back in 2013, Google started paying attention to the meaning of entire sentences and phrases rather than individual words.
Since that time, Google focuses more on the context or intent of the search. Semantic search can only work if the algorithms can deduce the meaning of the search queries.
Thus, the SERP does not display results based solely on the exact-match of keywords anymore. Instead, it always applies semantics.
Google learns a lot from every individual search. Hence, the results displayed reflect both an individual’s search habits as well as search habits of similar other Google users.
It may even reflect other behavior-specific information, such as the links that the users clicked on, the search conducted for a particular query, and what the users searched for after a particular search query.
Several factors are responsible for delivering search results, and some aren’t even well-known.
However, just because one does not know everything about the workings of semantic search, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still optimize for it.
Why to Optimize for Semantic Search
Ever since the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird update as mentioned earlier, semantic search optimization has become a must-have for any business that wants to take their SEO seriously.
A lot of people resisted the shift to semantic, as old habits don’t always die quickly. In fact, some webmasters still employ old keyword-only SEO efforts to this day.
That’s good news for those of us who get it and have jumped on board. Semantic search is here to stay, so we can leap ahead of the competition if they refuse to adapt.
Benefits of Semantic Mark-up to Improve Your Search Results
There are significant benefits to employing this new SEO approach, including:
1. Improves Ranks on the Search Engines
Matt Cutts, former head of search strategy at Google, advised us that including semantic data on your website can indirectly improve the website’s overall search engine rankings.
How? By making sure that the content is visible to the most number of your target audience as possible.
It also ensures that users who are genuinely searching for your content can easily find it.
2. Enhances Click-Through Rates
Semantic search optimization makes sure that the links to a website or blog appear in the most visually appealing way in the search results. Such semantic data also ensures that the content is displayed exactly as desired on social media.
Many social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have in-house semantic data structures that can be easily filled in and generally come with fields for meta description, title, keywords, and images.
As a result, if a connection shares your blog posts on Facebook, the precise link, text, and accompanying image data would be automatically included. This gives you complete control over how the branded materials of your will website appear across the Internet.
3. Improves Content Accessibility
Another wonderful advantage of optimizing the content for semantic search is that your website will become more accessible, automatically.
The website’s posts, as well as its page titles, become concise and clear, along with their descriptions.
As a result, even disabled users will be able to access the website more easily.
However, this does not mean that your accessibility efforts should be limited to semantic optimization alone.
Semantic optimization can be understood as a great first step towards enhancing the accessibility of the website, but it is only one component of a full accessibility strategy.
4. Focuses on User Intent, Improving Satisfaction Once They Hit Your Site
As discussed above, you will need to think about what end-users on your website want, and have the content align with those wants and needs on the SERPs.
Although you might have the cleanest semantic data in the market, if you lack contextually relevant content, it could hurt your ranking.
On the other hand, you will be able to publish more useful and relevant content for all users by keeping in mind semantic search as well as user intent.
Semantic search might sound intimidating to implement at first. But rest assured — you should now have a better understanding of its meaning, workings, and advantages.
In the end, your efforts to make your own website easy for the target audience to find will most certainly surely be rewarded.
Feature Image taken as screen grab from schema.org.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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