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The Beginner’s Guide to Semantic SEO

By Brittany Bronson on Oct 24, 2022 - 14 minute read

Semantic SEO is all about building more meaning into your content so Google is more likely to promote it to searchers.

When you enter a phrase, question, or topic into the Google Search bar, Google returns relevant results that offer you an answer or solution. So how does Google know exactly what you’re asking for?

In order to improve the relevance of the SERPs, Google has had to get better at understanding human language. Thanks to natural language processing algorithms and machine learning, Google is one of the most literate robots out there. 

So what can website owners do to leverage the power of Google’s NLP models? It’s called semantic SEO. It’s all about creating content that shows Google that your content has topical depth, relevance, and quality.

What is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO is the process of creating your content around topics, instead of one or two keywords. It is when you build more meaning into the content you create. Also, it involves thinking about the true intent of your readers and how the various landing pages on your website interrelate. 

A piece of content that is optimized properly for semantic SEO not only will answer the question a user has now but will answer the second, third, and fourth question they may have after reading. It is all about adding more depth, meaning, and reason to your content.

There are 3 problems that content creators face when dealing with content on a search engine:

  • Google is smart, but it’s still a robot. Several Google algorithm updates have focused on helping Google crawlers understand human language. However, they are bots. While their machine learning is quite advanced, they aren’t able to truly speak with human language. This is where semantic writing can come in handy.
robot gif
  • Other brands are vying for your target audience. With more content fighting for valuable search engine real estate, it is hard to stand out to a searcher. Google uses authority, quality, and page experience to determine whether or not your relevant content is more valuable than your competitors.
  • Google can promote your content, but you have to do the rest. Search engines can usually figure out what your content is about. But it’s up to you to answer consumer’s questions before they even ask them and drive them toward conversion.

The concept of semantic search can help with all 3 of the above problems. Using this method not only will help a content creator develop topics that answer their user’s intent, but they are also able to position the content where more than one question can be answered in more than one way. The goal is to add depth to your content and to frame content to longer queries and topic clusters rather than a literal keyword match.

Semantic SEO and Natural Language Processing

To get a better understanding of what exactly semantic SEO is, it’s important to understand how the data behind language is processed. 

Natural language processing (NLP) is how computers work to understand human language and infer meanings behind what is spoken. 

NLP models are building blocks of communication between humans and computers. New advancements in NLP are happening all the time, like with SMITH and GPT-3

With every new algorithm update, search engines like Google get better at understanding human language.

How Do Search Engines Use Semantics and Natural Language Processing?

Google released an update back in 2019 that aided them in semantic analysis and NLP. The BERT update (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), was one of the most important algorithm updates in years and affected 10% of all existing search queries. 

In short, BERT helped Google better understand what the words in a sentence mean. It also helps Googlebot gain insights of the context around certain words.

Here are a few different examples of linguistic artificial intelligence capabilities that are used by NLP models like BERT.

Semantic Mapping

semantic map

Semantic mapping is the act of exploring connections between any word and phrase and a related set of words and concepts. A semantic map will visualize how terms work together, and the search intent of the consumer.

For example, if a person simply searches for the term “pizza for dinner,” they could be looking to order a pizza from a local restaurant. Or, they could be looking for a recipe to make one at home. 

So how does Google know what the true search intent is? It’s all about the terms that the consumer searches with the main “pizza” keyword. If they are looking to make one at home, they could be searching for ingredients and proper oven temperatures. Or, if they’re looking to order, we can assume their search query will include the terms “near me” or descriptive words like “best ” or “great.”

Semantic Coding

semantic code

This is the process of using coding to better explain to Google what types of information can be found on each different page.

One popular example of semantic coding is schema.org. Schema markup is a semantic vocabulary of tags, or microdata, that you can add to your HTML. It improves the way search engines read and represent your web pages in relevant search results. When you use schema markup, you tell Google exactly what is on your page, and how you want to present it. 

There are other vocabularies and tags that you can add to help Google understand your content. Header tags such as H1-H6 map out the multiple subheadings and breaks in the content. 

There are also other semantic tags that can be used for emphasis, quotations, citations, acronyms, definitions, and thematic breaks.

How Can you Improve your SEO with NLP ?

As mentioned before, there are many benefits to crafting content with natural language processing in mind. By crafting your content towards how NLP models work, you can earn more keyword rankings, better SERP positions, and more organic traffic.

Add Structured Data Markup

json-ld markup

Google wants site owners to add structured data to their website so they can better understand their content. If you have specific products, events, or jobs that you’re trying to promote, there is no reason not to add the appropriate markups so your pages can appear in rich results.

Use Internal Links With Contextual Anchor Text

When a user clicks onto your website, they want to find a solution to their problem. They’re looking for the easiest and best answer to their solution. If they have to spend time hunting around for information, they most likely will move on to another website.

That’s why you’ll want to provide as much relevant, and contextual information to them as soon as they land on your website.

contextual links in content

This means not only using content to create meaning around a particular topic, but to include helpful internal links and anchor text. 

You need to think of your customer’s journey. Instead of putting all the information they may need on one web page, a strong internal link structure can work wonders. It both answers users’ questions and boosts your own SEO. However, you will want to create links with relevant anchor text that matters to the reader, to ensure they click on them!

Think Bigger About Keywords

Keyword research is, in a nutshell, complex. Most digital marketers just do simple keyword research on individual keywords that are relevant to their products and services. 

But just think of how many different types of words there are in the English language! Your keyword research should really aim to capture all the different ways that users may search for products or services like yours. For example, use the LinkGraph SearchAtlas Chrome extension to better understand other ways users are searching for similar queries.

google search with SearchAtlas Chrome extension

This includes verbs, adjectives, related questions and phrases, subtopics, and lsi keywords. LSI keywords, also known as latent semantic index keywords,are search terms that are relevant to the main, single keyword you are targeting.

When you enhance your keyword research and double down on content creation, you will have great success in creating relevant content. That content will also appear higher up in the search results for more relevant keyword phrases.

The Benefits of Writing Content with Topical Depth

There are many benefits to writing content with topical depth. Although longer content is not technically a ranking factor, the advantages of creating more in-depth content are clear in the SEO research and the rankings.

Rank for More Keywords

GSC Insights historical data window

Even if you only want to rank for one primary keyword, Google usually ends up ranking our web pages for multiple keyword phrases. Why not hit multiple birds with one stone when writing your content? 

Pieces of content with topical depth tend to explore more subtopics and questions related to the primary keyword target. This broadens the reach of the content within the SERPs. 

The idea is simple; the more you write about multiple different related subtopics, the higher chances you have when improving your visibility in multiple search results. 

Above anything else, optimizing for multiple keywords will ensure that you have more opportunities to drive traffic to your website.

Decrease Bounce Rate and Increase Scroll Depth

Not only does Google read the content you promote on your website, they take a look at how people are consuming it. 

In a quest to ensure the best user experience possible, Google only wants to promote high quality web pages. If they see that consumers are bouncing from your website almost as soon as they land there, they will believe that your website isn’t relevant or valuable.

Because in-depth content requires longer landing pages, your visitors will scroll further and spend longer on the page. That is, as long as the text, images, and rich media are quick to load.

Topical depth allows for you to dive really deep into a certain topic at hand. But as you add topical depth to the page, make sure that you don’t sacrifice other key parts of the user’s experience. That includes site architecture, links, and easy navigation elements like jumplinks.     

Improve Readability

cat reading GIF

Have you ever read a piece of web content that’s stuffed full of the keyword the site owner wants to rank for? Not only is it difficult to read, it devalues the entire experience.

As stated before, semantic SEO is not hyper-focused on one keyword. By writing with semantic SEO in mind, you actually improve the readability of your content.

When you use related words to your main topic, then you’re able to give the reader more context, which improves readability tenfold. Readability is important on both a user intent and SEO basis, as readability improves engagement with the page. 

Engagement is one of the most important metrics that Google pays attention to, and it ties directly in with improving search rankings and search volume. And who wouldn’t want that?

Allow for Easy Conversions

The whole purpose of writing content is to get some sort of conversion, whether it is a phone call, an email subscriber, or a purchase. 

So every bit of content you create will need to serve its own purpose. If your content is stagnant and doesn’t inspire users, then what is the point? Content ties all of your marketing efforts together, and fantastic content will allow for an easy conversion. 

When users find content that is in-depth and answers their questions, they will be more likely to buy. They will also more likely see your brand as an industry authority.

Using the SEO Content Assistant to Improve Semantic SEO

LinkGraph’s SEO Content Assistant uses NLP algorithms and machine learning to help site owners practice semantic SEO. 

SEO Content Assistant

With this tool, any digital marketer can take their target keyword and create high-quality, in-depth content. The higher the content score, the more likely the content will rank well in Google and push the user toward conversion.

Our SEO Content Assistant uses semantic technology. It compiles a wide variety of related phrases, LSI keywords, and shoulder topics from your specific keyword and main topic. Additionally, the software will suggest focus terms, multiple on-page elements to use, and keyword frequency that your content needs. This will help your web page outrank competitors for high-value keywords in your industry. 

As a result, you will have dozens of Focus Terms to use in your content that help to enhance the topical depth of your content. The SEO Content Assistant allows for you to optimize your content up to 5 keywords, but make sure those target keywords are related and have similar relevancy. 

Our easy interface makes it seamless to import your content from existing URLs, export new content into Google Docs, and collaborate on your projects with other members of your team.

All in all, this tool will enhance your content and make it a valuable asset to your digital marketing goals.

Final Thoughts on Semantic SEO

Semantic SEO is a fantastic tool for both search engine optimization purposes, but also to really grab your users at the perfect time for conversion. 

By creating content that works to speak to a consumer in natural language, instead of stuffing keywords in unnaturally, consumers are more likely to gain the overall context of your main topic. 

Are you interested in elevating your existing content with semantic SEO? If so, our digital marketing team at LinkGraph is here to help. Learn more about our content tools and software.

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