semantic seo tree

Semantic SEO is the future of the search industry and changes how you should approach creating content.

Long gone the days of “targeting a keyword” and banging your head against the wall trying to find the best long-tail term for your new post.

So remove that keyword density calculator from your browser bookmark and read on to find out how to compete in the new SEO era in 2018.

What is semantic SEO?

Search engines are using a range of factors to determine what results to serve for any query.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are getting more and more tailored to the particular user based on their location, intent, past searches, device etc.

So if and when your die-hard Arsenal fan colleague is looking to quickly check the results for the Arsenal game during happy hour, they will have a different intent than your foreigner friend just wanting to read the Wikipedia page to understand more about that thing you won’t stop talking about in the office…

Google Search of Arsenal

In short, Google is going to great lengths to try to understand the context of a query as best as it can.

And as a marketer, so should you!

The reason for this segmentation of results for a query is very simple: the more search engines know about the user and what they are looking for, the better the search result will suit what they need.

This is why on the digital marketer’s side, you also need to do everything you can to give as much context as possible to search engines so they can better serve your content to the end user.

By building a deeper meaning into the topic you are talking about, you allow for a better covering of terms around that topic…

That is semantic SEO in a nutshell.

This is becoming even more important now with the trend of voice search, for example, and extremely granular searches.

How to create a content strategy for semantic SEO?

Back in the days, creating content optimised for SEO was all about targeting a particular keyword you were trying to rank for.

You might have tried ranking for “long-tail” keywords to cater to a targeted audience and for lower competition.

meme about long-tail keywords

This doesn’t work anymore.

Search engines are now considering not only any one keyword or phrase you are using, but any relevant topic to what your content is about.

This means that when researching what to blog about you should consider the kind of questions you are trying to answer.

80% of online searches are informational so it is most likely your content will show up for someone looking for information on your topic.

pie chart of online searches by intent

Data by Science Direct

This is also why you should make your content extremely explicit and in-depth. That way you will cover as many relevant question as possible within this particular topic.

That’s also why long form content are making up the top rankings, and the average page in the Top 5 results is above 2000 words as per this study by CoSchedule:  

table of correlation between content length and ranking

 

 By writing deeper content you will automatically be using long-tail keywords around your topic without you having to even think about targeting them!

How to structure your content for semantic SEO?

In this quest of giving more context to your content, there are simple things you can do to help search engines understand the structure of your page.

This will also help you to potentially appear for a featured snippet in the SERP which now accounts for around 20% of search results.

The first thing would be to make sure your content follows a logical hierarchy with the use of headers.

This will help both users and search engines to understand the different parts of the content and what question each of them is trying to answer.

Another way to achieve this is to think about your content as a big Q&A around your topic. Depending on what you’re discussing, having each part phrased as a question and the appropriate answer can be a good way to cover a range of terms and related topics.

You can also structure it as:

  • A step-by-step guide
  • “How to” guides
  • Resources lists

How to use schema markup for semantic SEO?

Schema markup are a great way to give search engines more context about the “item” you are talking about.

example of a review snippet for the fountainhead

You can find how to use mark up of your content at Schema.org for both microdata and JSON-LD. They both achieve a similar result, however Google has mentioned many times that JSON-LD was preferred as it allows to not affect the user-visible text and is also easier to be read when injected dynamically (with Google Tag Manager for example)…

It is essentially a way to give more context to the scope of your topic. So if you are talking about Apple, you may want to indicate that this is referring to the brand and not the fruit…

image that shows how semantic for a search for apple

An easy way to do this without needing developer input would be to use a schema markup generator such as Merkle’s or if you are on WordPress you can use this all in one plugin

Wikidata

Finally, talking about semantic SEO wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Wikidata.

Wikidata replaced Freebase.com at the end of 2015 as the API source for online collection of structured data.

wikidata logo and semantic tree

This knowledge base is what gives Google extended semantic information around “item” and how they relate to each other. It also helps identify the difference between Nike, the shoe brand, and the Greek god of the same name.

Furthermore, it’s established that Google uses information found in Wikidata to fill up the Knowledge Graph of an entity.

This is why you should set up an “item” for your company or client. SEMRush guide is a great starting point to do this.

 

Semantic SEO is the future of the search industry. It changes the way you should think about how you create content and how you look at users’ intent to put yourself in the best position to compete. Let us know what your thoughts are or share this article with your audience to help them learn more about semantic search.