What is semantic search and why is it important for SEO?

Written by dartera
May 28, 2022

Several algorithm updates over the years have made Google a semantic search engine that strives to understand search intent to deliver more relevant results.

So the days of keyword stuffing are over, and focusing on high-ranking keywords is not the be-all and end-all of search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to learn to use keywords in the right semantic context. This leads us to semantic search, latent semantic indexing keywords (LSI keywords) and their importance to your SEO strategy.

What is Semantic Search?

Let's open the conversation about semantic search by defining the basic idea behind this new approach: Semantic search is a process in which search engines like Google retrieve not only pages that contain exact matches to the search terms used. Google semantic search takes into account search intent and the contextual meaning of search queries to deliver relevant, high-quality answers.

But what does semantic search mean for your SEO strategy?

To answer this question, it is necessary to know that semantic search is completely different from lexical search. Lexical search was a technique used by search engines that required users to enter exact and correctly spelled words to find what they were looking for. And even with this effort, searchers often had to deal with SERPs filled with literal matches but irrelevant results. Google's semantic search fills this gap by understanding the intent and meaning of a search query to deliver meaningful and contextual results rather than literal ones.

From an SEO and content strategy perspective, this means that the key to improving SERP visibility today is creating content that is aligned with search intent. If you aim for relevance instead of keyword hits, you're on the right path to lasting SEO success.

How semantic search works

A question can be formulated in different ways. Searchers don't always use the same words, languages, and tones when they search for something online. Sometimes they don't even know how to phrase their question correctly. For this reason, search engines today focus on the meaning behind search queries rather than just matching keywords.

But how exactly does semantic search work? How does Google understand a search query?

Search engines such as Google take a semantic approach and interpret search intent based on several factors, such as the following:

  • Search history of the user
  • Location of the user
  • Real-time context or current events
  • Variations in the spelling or substitution of search queries

Google has also listed the key factors that its search algorithms take into account when displaying results:

  • Meaning and intent of the search query (natural language understanding).
  • Relevance of web page content (match with primary and latent semantic keywords)
  • Quality of the content (competence, authority and trustworthiness of the website)
  • Website usability (mobile-friendliness, page load speed, and other usability factors).
  • Context and settings (location, search history and search settings)

From these brief descriptions of how semantic search works, it is clear that Google is getting better at determining the meaning and semantic linkage of search terms used by users. Unfortunately, this also means that optimizing your website for search has become more complex than ever.

But hope is not lost yet - understanding semantic keywords SEO, learning how to use semantic keywords, and creating semantic context in your content will help drive your SEO strategy.

An overview of Semantic Keywords SEO

It is difficult to open discussions about semantic search because the topic is broad and Google's semantic search engine is constantly evolving. Nonetheless, here are some important points about semantic keywords that will help you solidify your online strategy.

1. topics become more important than keywords

High volume keywords are not as important as they used to be. That's why SEO specialists and content professionals must learn to use long-tail keywords strategically in their content.

But more importantly, they invest time and effort to consider search intent and add relevant topics that meet it to create high-quality content.

2. keywords are still important

While Google is undoubtedly getting better at understanding semantic linkage and the motivation behind search queries, it is still learning to understand search intent.

So using your trusted primary and semantic keyword tool to find the best keywords continues to impact your SERP performance. Likewise, including keywords in your title tags, URL, header and body tags, and metadata still helps improve your rankings.

3. technical SEO is as important as content

Since Google is still not smart enough to really understand the meaning of words, you need to help the search engine understand what your content is about.

Using the right keywords and investing in top-notch content writing services are critical to semantic search engine optimization, but your technical SEO efforts are also important. Be sure to improve your metadata, optimize your site for mobile, and create crawl error reports to get the best results.

How to optimize your content for semantic search

Now that you know how semantic search works, you may think that optimizing your content for a semantic search engine like Google is too complex. While it is indeed a huge undertaking, taking a semantic approach to your SEO and content marketing strategy will lead to the effective, impactful results you want from your campaigns.

With the right strategy and the right SEO partner, you can improve the organic visibility of your website and even have the chance to secure a position in the Featured Snippet.

Are you ready to get started? Here are some tips on semantic SEO that you should consider:

1. optimize your content for topics

As mentioned in the previous section, semantic keyword SEO places more emphasis on topics than keywords. Sticking to the old method of targeting high-volume keywords can be of limited help to your content strategy today.

Take the time to understand how keywords fit together to form a semantic context around a particular topic, and then address that topic comprehensively. Their goal is to create in-depth, original, high-quality content.

2. always pay attention to the search intention

Search queries are not just a string of random words. In reality, they reveal whether searchers are looking for general information on a topic or are ready to buy something.

Search intent can be divided into four main categories:

  • Informative - When seekers want to learn.
  • Navigation - When searchers want to find something.
  • Transactional - When searchers want to buy something at that moment.
  • Commercial - When the searcher wants to buy something but needs more information.

Pay attention to the search queries that lead people to your website and the intent behind them. Creating content that speaks directly to your audience's intent will help you boost your SERP performance and rise in the rankings.

3. learn how to use Latent Semantic Indexing keywords

In the SEO context, semantic keywords are words or phrases that are conceptually related to your main keyword (topic). These semantically related words are not necessarily synonyms, but they help determine the context and meaning of another keyword.

For example, if your primary keyword is "digital marketing," some examples of latent semantic keywords for it are "SEO," "search engine marketing," "social media marketing," "website design," etc.

Learning to use semantic keywords strategically will help you keep up with Google's algorithm updates. Using the right semantically related words shows search engines that your content covers important topics related to your target keyword, making it a helpful resource.

Furthermore, Google uses these semantic terms to better understand your content so that its search algorithms can display your content on more relevant SERPs.

4. use a tool for semantic keywords

It can be difficult to learn how to use semantic keywords if you don't know how to determine the right latent semantic keywords to include in the first place. Fortunately, you can accomplish this task with a semantic keyword generation tool.

Here are just a few of the many robust LSI tools you can use to find semantic terms for your content:

  • Google's Keyword Planner - Google has a Keyword Planner tool that allows you to generate hundreds of common keywords and phrases related to your main keyword. It also allows you to determine the search volume and competition for each keyword.
  • LSI Graph - This is a widely used tool that allows you to generate around 50 LSI keywords without signing up. LSI Graph also provides long-tail keywords as well as questions and phrases that you can use for your titles or subheadings.
  • Twinword Ideas LSI Graph - This interesting semantic keywords tool not only generates semantically related words, but also visualizes the semantic connection between them. It also provides you with other helpful data such as search volume, organic competition and paid competition of each keyword.

Building a solid semantic search strategy with SEO experts

Search engines are getting better at understanding user intent. Therefore, you should open the discussion about semantic search strategies in your team sooner rather than later. Understanding how to optimize your content for semantic search and which keywords are suitable for latent semantic indexing will lay the foundation for your SEO success.

Finally, always remember: what is a semantic search guide if it is not used? Now that you have reached the end of this blog post, you should apply what you have learned. Focus on topics rather than keywords, pay attention to search intent, and learn how to use semantic terms strategically. And if you are overwhelmed with the task, you can always ask for help from SEO experts.

At Dartera, we love helping businesses keep up with Google's ever-changing algorithms and achieve better online visibility. Our SEO strategists, who are well-versed in keyword research, technical SEO, and local SEO, work hand-in-hand with our content experts to create original, high-quality, SEO-friendly content.

Are you interested in using our know-how for your SEO strategy? Send us a message today. We would love to be part of your online success story.