What Is Semantic SEO?

If you are just getting started with SEO, the sudden intrusion of the term “semantic SEO” might be quite confusing. How does it differ from regular SEO, and is it more important? How do you optimize for it? Let’s find out!

What Is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO is optimizing content around topics, not just keywords

It’s about creating more meaningful content and diving deeper into a topic, as opposed to creating content centered around a handful of keywords. 

How Does Semantic SEO Work?

Search engines, Google at the forefront, have become more and more proficient in semantic analysis. They are teaching their algorithms to understand language better, and consequently provide more relevant search results. 

These algorithms are now taking into account search intent and user experience. They are also considering the relationship between words, and what certain words mean in different contexts. 

Search engines are relying on both artificial intelligence and natural language processing to better understand what a searcher wants to see when they type a certain phrase into the search box. 

Because of all this, you can no longer optimize pages for a single keyword. You can’t optimize for a cluster of keywords either, not in the usual sense of “add this keyword this many times to a page to rank better”. Instead, you should work on building up your topical authority, and writing deeper, more meaningful and valuable content. 

We’ll get into how you can do that in just a moment. 

What Are The Benefits Of Semantic SEO?

It can be a challenge to start thinking in terms of semantic SEO and optimizing your content in this way. However, you can expect numerous benefits:

  • Your pages will rank higher: as search engines better understand what your pages are about, they will rank higher in search results.
  • Your pages will rank for more keywords: as you are no longer focusing on individual keywords, but context and search intent, you’ll naturally target more keywords and rank for them better. 
  • You may show up for SERP features like rich snippets or in the People Also Ask section, as your content is of a higher quality and provides clear answers. 
  • You will reduce bounce rates and prolong time on page: visitors are more likely to read your pages when they provide more value. With semantic SEO, you will better match search intent and visitors will be more likely to engage with your content.
  • You will improve your brand’s authority and credibility: by creating great content, you will establish yourself as an expert both in the eyes of your visitors and search engines. This will be great for your E-E-A-T and will further improve your rankings. 

How To Optimize Your Website For Semantic SEO

Now that you understand the basic theory and the benefits of semantic SEO, let’s take a look how you can put it to practical use:

Ensure Topical Relevance

Topical relevance is the cornerstone of semantic SEO. It means covering a topic in-depth, and leaving no aspect of it untouched. 

You won’t be writing one massive article though. Instead, you’ll be creating topic clusters, and writing numerous interconnected articles covering the same parent topic. 

For example, if you are writing about internal links, you should cover topics like what they are, how they are created, why they are important, what kinds of plugins you can use, what kinds of anchors work best, and so on. 

By ensuring your content is topically relevant, you will establish yourself as an expert, provide plenty of useful resources for readers, and boost your internal linking opportunities. As always, use Link Whisper to help you automate some of the internal linking process. 

Map Out Topic Clusters 

Before you start writing content, write down everything that that particular topic cluster can include. Start with top level information, and then slowly narrow it down to very specific questions that will only interest a small portion of your audience. 

Make sure to classify your ideas into top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel topics. Then adjust the knowledge level, jargon and tone of voice used for each. 

Optimize For Relevant Keyword Clusters 

While we just told you that semantic SEO is not about optimizing for keywords, they do still matter. Search engines still use them to understand what a page is about. No matter how advanced their understanding of language becomes, keywords are still important.

However, you should optimize pages for keyword clusters, as opposed to single keywords. 

Keyword clusters are groups of keywords that share semantic relevance. When you optimize for them, you are increasing the number of phrases your content will rank for. 

All you need to do is group your keywords together, based on their meaning. You can also create keyword clusters based on search intent. For example, “what are internal links” and “how important are internal links” both have informational intent. “Internal link plugin” or “Link Whisper reviews” have commercial intent. 

Analyze Google’s Autosuggest 

When you write your article’s outline, take some time to explore what Google’s autosuggest has to offer. Just start typing various relevant questions into search and see what else pops up.

These are the queries that fellow searchers are looking for the most. Use them in your content, ideally as headers. Provide concise, direct answers to these questions in your writing. It can help you rank for the featured snippet, or in the People Also Ask section.

Take a Look At “People Also Ask” 

Speaking of People Also Ask, make sure to check out this part of the search results page as well. You can often find practically your entire outline right there. 

These are again the questions your audience wants to know about. By providing answers, you are ensuring topical relevance, matching search intent, and creating more valuable content. 

Note that you will often find only somewhat relevant questions in this section. If you can’t use them for the piece you are currently writing, make a note of them and include them in another article you are writing in the same topic cluster.  

Include LSI Keywords

While you will naturally include a lot of semantically related phrases while writing, you should still take the time to jot down some important LSI keywords you want to feature on the page.

Start from your main topic. What words would you naturally mention when talking about the subject? For example, if you are talking about backlinks, terms like domain rating, nofollow, dofollow, outreach and guest post might pop up. 

You can also use a keyword research tool for the purpose (Surfer SEO for example does a good job of suggesting relevant phrases to include in your content). 

Try to use these phrases in your writing as naturally as possible. Don’t think of it as keyword optimization, rather as providing the right context for Google’s crawlers to understand what your page is about. 

Always Use Schema

All of your pages, whether they are blog posts or product pages, need to have all the appropriate schema markup. This is your way of telling search engines what the page is about, and what search queries they should rank it for. 

Most websites don’t bother with this element too much, and often omit important information. If you take the time to optimize your schema properly, you can outrank them for relevant queries. 

Write Longer, More Valuable Content 

Finally, the key to nailing semantic SEO is writing better, longer, more valuable content.

A single short article can’t hope to cover a topic in-depth and prove to search engines that you have the knowledge, understanding and experience needed to rank at the top. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you should only produce long-form content. If a topic is short and can be rounded off in 1000 words, don’t try to stretch it to twice as long. Your goal is for your readers to walk away from your page armed with all the relevant information. You don’t want to bore them, and you don’t want to make their head spin.

That’s why mapping out topic clusters is important. By interlinking all relevant pages, some of which will be longer than others, you will establish expertise on a certain topic. Don’t forget to create your pillar page that will serve as a hub for all others! 

Wrapping Up

Consider making semantic SEO a part of your website optimization strategies. It will mean more effort and more time is required for creating content, but the benefits are numerous. 

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