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What is Semantic SEO and how do you do it?

user search

Semantics is the study of meaning in language. From there, it’s easy to guess what Semantic SEO is. 

Essentially, this is a type of SEO that emphasises meaning over keywords. One might say it’s even a more user-focused type of optimisation than traditional SEO. After all, why would a user really care how many times a keyword appears in an article? Or if it appears in your H1?

This isn’t to say that semantic SEO does away with keywords entirely, or discounts all of the principles of traditional SEO. However, it offers a more nuanced approach to optimisation – one we’ll guide you through today.

Technology banner with laptop keyboard and magnifying lens with copy space for text. High quality photo

What is Semantic SEO and why do you need it?

As we said, semantic SEO is an optimisation strategy where you focus on topics, not keywords. Topical relevance and organisation is the name of the game here, not things like keyword density or single-keyword content optimisation.

To some extent, this type of SEO was to be expected after several of Google’s biggest updates, like Panda and Hummingbird. Those cracked down on thin, keyword-stuffed content that was practically Lorem Ipsum text… and thus, paved the way for meatier, more relevant content to shine in search.

Today, Google search has come even further. It now “understands” most searches in much the same way a human does. This means it can often tell which search terms or keywords are similar to each other.

One of the best examples is in the results for “X vs Y” search queries, e.g. “semantic SEO vs traditional SEO”. Today, Google understands that you’re comparing “semantic SEO” and “traditional SEO” in this search.

In the early days of search, it wouldn’t have. It would have been more likely to present you with search results defining “semantic SEO”, ones defining “traditional SEO”, or even ones just mentioning the two but not comparing them. 

But now? It even offers a snippet that addresses your intent to compare the two!

This shows one of the key reasons semantic SEO is necessary today. Google itself is constantly moving towards a more semantically nuanced understanding of users’ searches, so optimising in a similar way only makes sense.

What are the benefits of Semantic SEO?

We’ve already noted one of the biggest benefits of doing semantic SEO above, which is that it can bring your strategies more in line with Google’s trajectory in algorithm updates. Here are some other benefits worth mentioning:

  • You can rank for multiple keywords more easily. As semantic SEO doesn’t focus on optimising around a single keyword but on a topic, it’s easier to include multiple related keywords in content for it.

  • It encourages natural language. This is good in that it’s more likely to be relatable to readers, plus it makes optimising for conversational voice search easier (and that’s only getting bigger!).

  • It can help you prepare for the advent of SGE. Google’s Search Generative Experience hasn’t launched yet but it may in the future. It adds expandable sources for its AI-generated results in searches, which means it may be yet another way (aside from rich snippets) where people can try to break into the first page. Why does semantic SEO matter here? Because semantic SEO may help you land a spot in those AI-generated results’ source lists, given the studies indicating it favours long-form, in-depth content.

How can you do Semantic SEO for your content?

If what we’ve said about semantic SEO’s benefits has piqued your interest, you’re probably wondering how to get on this train. As it happens, it’s not too difficult. Below are key tips for getting started with it:

1. Understand your target audience

As with all other types of marketing, this is paramount. How can you provide meaningful content if you don’t actually get what your audience is looking for?

Ask yourself questions like these before optimising an article or page: 

understanding target audience

This will help you think more in terms of meaning and natural language, which is the point of semantic SEO.

2. Use keyword research tools to find relevant terms and topics

Yes, we just said semantic SEO de-emphasises keywords – but it doesn’t do away with them. Using keyword research tools to prepare your content can even help you with semantic SEO because good keyword suggestions guide your content creation.

Let’s take this article as an example. If you use keyword research tools to look for keywords related to “semantic SEO”, you’re likely to get keyword suggestions like these:

Benefits of doing SEO, Tips for doing semantic SEO

And as you can see, it makes sense to include phrases like "What is semantic SEO" and "How to semantic SEO" in an article for someone looking up this topic – which is why we’ve discussed all of them here! Good tools to use for stuff like this would be Google Trends, AnswerthePublic, Hummingbird, Semrush, and Ahrefs.

keyword clusters

3. Create pages based on topic clusters

When doing keyword research, you’ll likely organise those keywords into clusters based on their meaning. Well, you can take it to the next level by creating pages based on topic clusters too. Essentially, you want to cluster topics or subtopics in a way that makes sense, then divide them up into pages accordingly. 

Sticking with our example of optimising for “semantic SEO”, you can have a pillar page providing a general overview of it first. Then you can create subtopic pages that go into the subtopics in greater depth, e.g. a page that goes into the details of how to do semantic SEO for a blog. 

You can then link to these pages from your pillar page, which keeps all things related to the topic organised but accessible. Plus it’s also a great way to beef up your internal linking structures!

Schema Example

4. Make use of schema

Schema can help Google understand your site content better too, even if it isn’t a direct ranking signal. The idea is to use this structured data to make it easier for Google’s crawlers to process what your content is about. 

This can support their understanding of your actual content, as it tells them what content is about, what it’s like, and what it does. As a result, the algorithm may be better-able to recognise your relevance to certain results.

Google search on a phone

5. Take a look at what Google thinks people also want to know

Google’s SERPs are gold mines for semantic SEO preparation. Check out the “People Also Ask” section in them for related topic ideas, for instance. You can also try looking at the keywords suggested by search (when you type in the search bar) and the “Related Searches” section at the bottom!

Get help with your Semantic SEO today!

The details above should help you get started on semantic SEO. If you think you need more guidance with it or any other part of SEO, however, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 

We can do everything from performing an SEO analysis of your site to putting together a detailed strategy for improving your rank. All you need to do is contact us so we can talk about your situation first and what you want, no strings attached.

Contact us for a chat for your digital marketing needs today!

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