[and explanation] is much more complicated than it really is. A quick Google search of “semantic SEO” will give you loads of articles, algorithms, graphs, etc. But the truth is – we’ve been using search engines semantically all this time. We search using our own natural language, to answer questions that will help us with our daily life.
Search engines have adjusted to semantic search – especially as they adjusted to natural language [thanks to Siri and Google Now voice assistants]. Now, it’s time for search engine marketers to catch up. The good news is – if you’re not comfortable altering/entering schema markup on your site, you can still have a positive impact on your rankings. [That’s not to say you should ignore schema markup. Semantic search depends on structured data. You or someone on your team should do it.]
The how-to’s are going to sound a little familiar – focus on Keywords and Content.
1. Focus on Keywords for Semantic SEO Results
Your keyword research is still the best place for you to start. But you need to think about it in a new way. Start with your core keywords – the ones that most closely relate to the content on your site. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a great tool to help you brainstorm this list.
Your next step is to focus on thematic keywords that tackle other topics your readers may be interested in. This article gives a great illustration of optimizing semantic keywords for a site about buying a used car. While the core keyword bucket works around the phrase “how to avoid buying a lemon,” the supporting keywords would be one step outside that circle. Not only what can happen when you buy a used car, but other related topics such as “buying from a used dealer” “engine oil leak”.
Finally, focus on including keywords that predict and then answer your readers’ questions. Back to the used car purchase example, your reader may be ultimately worried about their legal rights, should they buy a car that turns out to be a lemon. You can advise them there too.
2. Focus on Content for Semantic SEO Results
Focus on great content, that is. Now that you have three buckets of keywords, you can focus on creating content that is helpful. Think of your site as a customer service hotline for your readers. As we do here at Galileo Tech Media, create an outline of your site, and assign keyword/phrases from those 3 buckets to each page. Then let your content answer those questions, and gently massage with optimization.
3. … then Share
Don’t let all that great content simply sleep on your site. Share it. Google’s Hummingbird update proves that social media marketing is important. Not only does it give your content the spotlight it deserves, but also your audience’s reaction will help you gauge the helpfulness of the content. Pay attention to comments and shares. If you’re providing something useful, your audience will tell you. If you’re not providing something useful… well…
Given all the algorithmic updates we SEO professionals have gone through, and all the resulting knee-jerk reactions, so much remains the same. If you’re optimizing your site for great content that answers your readers’ questions – you’re on the right track. Just like your mother told you – being helpful always pays off in the end.