From the Keyword Concept to the Semantic Search

Concepts From Yesterday Still Relevant Today?

It all starts with the search. It all starts when someone types some words into the search box on a search engine. Chances are Google. Keywords are the words you will be found under when a user performs a search. These keywords need to be in your website. Your keywords are the keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. Understanding this basic concept will put you on the first rung of the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ladder.

A long time ago this was really all you needed to be found however today things are changing (constantly).

Keyword – The Basic Concepts

Keywords appearing within well written website titles, headers and content are still important but not the be all and end all they once were. The concept here has changed somewhat.

When talking to a client about website content I always refer to keywords and keyword phrases regarding the written copy as it’s still an important basic concept to understand. In understanding what the company does and services provided will provide thhe basics to what the website will be about. Of course more content will be added and rewritten in order to provide informative and engaging content.  I’ll often rewrite website copy based on what the client has provided giving more detail and information. This basic concept still rings true as you have to start somewhere regarding getting the content into the website.

Fundamentally it’s the keywords which people will be entering to conduct a search. The keywords within the content will also allow Google, or any search engine, to understand what that website is actually about. Although this basic concept can be used as a starting point, it is now unwise to rely purely on general content containing a few keywords aimed more at search engines than people.

Two Concepts That Will Never Change

A Note On Keyword Stuffing – AVOID

This leads on to possible ‘keyword stuffing’ where web pages are loaded with keywords making for unatural text. Content should always be written in a natural way for people. This is an important concept and one that will never change. Content should not be written for search engines. However, content should be written with SEO in mind. There is an important difference here.

A Note Copying Text from Other Websites – AVOID

Simple, don’t do it! Google will pick up on unoriginal content copied from other websites. Search engines want to see original, engaging content that people will return to. This is another important concept that will never change.

Long Tail Keywords & the Semantic Search

Long Tail Keywords

Oftentimes there’s so much competition out in the internet for ranking under common keywords it’s wise to take a step back and look at being found under ‘long tail’ keywords and phrases.

These are more specific and less common than other keywords so less competition so the greater chance of a higher ranking. They tend to be three, four or five keywords in length and far more specific in meaning. A good example of them in action would be for, say, a website page on ‘Italian Cuisine’. Trying to target keywords like ‘Italian cuisine’, or ‘Italian recipes’ are general terms with stiff competition from other sites. This will undoubtedly result in low ranking if any. However targeting more niche areas that you specialise in would be far better. For example  ‘Tomato sauce Italian Pizza recipes’ or ‘Homemade Italian sauce pizza recipes’ or ‘Homemade Pizza margherita recipes’ have far better chances of ranking.

As part of a SEO campaign it’s important to track keywords and identify possible alternatives for use in long tail posibilities. To find keyword alternatives take a look at:

The Semantic Search

Semantic search is a search technique that aims to understand the intent and context behind a user’s query in order to provide more relevant search results. Unlike traditional keyword-based search, which relies on exact word matches, semantic search takes into account the meaning of words and the relationships between them. The search engine within Google is becoming smarter, so smart there‘s more than a hint of artificial intelligence.

Google’s semantic search actually began way back in 2013 with the Hummingbird algorithm update. Based mostly on long-tail keyword searches, a semantic search identifies how data is related to searched concepts. Google is now so smart that it evaluates the keywords entered and the results given are focused far more on the intent of the searcher. To better understand the user, Google needs to understand the context and intent of the user. In other words Google is now thinking like a human. True artificial intelligence. One key way Google can do this is by evaluating the person’s search history. Learning what the searcher is precisely looking for.

The Semantic Search Key Points

As mentioned above keywords are important within a website but these days search engines are not putting the emphasis on them as they once did. There is a shift to, what is now termed, the semantic search.

  1. Natural Language Understanding: Semantic search systems use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to understand the meaning of words and phrases in a query. This allows the system to consider synonyms, related terms, and context when retrieving results.
  2. Contextual Understanding: Semantic search attempts to understand the context of a search query, including user intent and the specific domain or topic of the query. This helps in delivering more contextually relevant results.
  3. Entity Recognition: Semantic search systems often employ entity recognition to identify and extract important entities (such as people, places, organizations, or specific terms) mentioned in a query. This can improve the accuracy of search results.
  4. Concept-Based Search: Instead of relying solely on keyword matching, semantic search may use concept-based search to find documents or web pages that are conceptually related to the query, even if they don’t contain the exact keywords.
  5. Ranking and Relevance: Semantic search engines use sophisticated ranking algorithms to prioritize search results based on their relevance to the user’s query. This ranking often takes into account various factors, including the semantic similarity between the query and the content of the pages.
  6. Personalization: Some semantic search systems personalize results based on a user’s past search history, preferences, and behavior, aiming to provide more tailored and useful results.
  7. Multimodal Search: Semantic search can also work with different types of media, including text, images, audio, and video, allowing users to search for information across various content formats.

Semantic search has become increasingly important as the volume of digital information continues to grow. It enables more precise and contextually relevant search results, making it valuable in various applications, including web search engines, Ecommerce product recommendations, content recommendation systems, and enterprise search solutions. This approach helps users find the information they need more efficiently and effectively.

What Does This Mean For SEO?

The days of creating content based solely on keywords or keyword phrases is over. Keywords can be easily manipulated, but Semantic Search intent can not. This intent aligns with the concept talked about above – long tail keywords. Google delivers only responses that match that query specifically. That’s why it’s a good idea to create content that is specific, clear, and that answers a specific question. The way to go is decide on a couple of keywords, analyse and look into long tail keywords searches and write enagaging and informative content about one topic for one page. The more detailed the text the better.

In understanding and catering for a searchers intent will in turn align your page with the sematic search and the search engine. Ultimately this will change website content, as each page will now have a better chance of ranking if it focuses on a specific or precise topic rather than general information. Google will now understand this page and serve it to the searcher.

In return distancing from the old ways of spreading general keywords throughout the website in general text in an attempt to win over the search engine rather than the person. Google now wants to see longer more detailed content with each page focusing on a specific topic.

Content For People NOT Search Engines

If this teaches us anything it is to write longer more detailed content engaging with unique content for people and not search engines. Don’t get caught up on general keywords but think more about long-tail phrases that will appear naturally in specific pages geared to specific topics.

Understanding what people want means understanding what search engines want. The basic idea here is to write compelling content for peole not search engines.

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