It’s a simple fact: relevance is now the king when it comes to SEO in the new semantic web. Google’s latest Caffeine updates have affected countless websites. Some have seen ranking increases and other have been penalized into the last few pages of a keyword’s results page.
These changes in the algorithm that Google uses to determine the best results for a search query are something that affect anyone with a website. They carry heavy implications about not just link building, but also about content creation.
Content and Link Building
Ever since the Internet first began, there have been two major schools of thought as to how search engines should rank a website. One school thought that the relevance of the links pointing to a website was most important, and the other thought that the actual content’s keyword richness was most important.
When Keywords and Links Weren’t Enough
Until the past year, both schools could report mixed success with either strategy due to the way that major search engines like Google worked. In fact, most types of SEO would have some measurable benefit, depending on the size of the competition.
The problem comes in at the last round of algorithm updates that Google has performed for the past year. Instead of focusing on penalizing one type of link building or content creation, Google has begun to radically shift the way that searches work.
Searches using Google’s search engine have begun to shift from plain keyword searches to semantic searches.
What is a Semantic Search?
The easiest way to explain what a semantic search is involves using an example.
Imagine that a person was searching for “What will the weather be like today near me?”
Under the old style of keyword searches, the word “weather” would probably be valued the most, followed by the other terms in the phrase. Naturally, this would pull up sites related most closely to the weather due to the number of times that the important keywords would be noticed there.
Under a purely semantic search engine, the very same string could bring up results for what the weather is supposed to be like in that person’s area. It could also bring up results for grills, umbrellas and board games, none of which seem to answer the search query at first glance.
The reason those results would come up is because they’re closely related. Each term describes some activity involved with the weather. A grill may be in case the person is hoping for clear skies, an umbrella if it’s rainy outside and a board game if there’s a heavy downpour.
The difference between these two searches is that a semantic search seeks to understand what a search term is before associating it with other terms. This means that content and links should no longer be about keyword density or link volume. The single msot important factor in SEO for a semantic search engine is relevance.
3 Tips for Ensuring Relevance with On-Page SEO During Content Creation
There are a number of ways to ensure that your website is kept relevant in the eyes of a semantic search engine.
- Semantics and Keyword Proximity – To make a long story short, ensure that your main keywords are not the only things in your content that describe it. Utilize synonyms and closely-related words with the appropriate semantic markup (<h1>, <strong>, etc.) around those terms.
- Synonym Keyword Interlinking A part of your strategy should be to link to pages on your website that target certain synonyms already. This helps to create a stronger semantic theme, which makes it easier for Google to decide how relevant your website is to your topic and keyword.
- Link to Authority Pages Look for authority documents and pages that are already ranking highly for the subject you want to rank for, then link to them. This is not a new idea, but it is something that is now more important than ever before.
Final Words about Semantic SEO and Content Writing
This is but a very brief touch on the topic of how to optimize for this new breed of search engine. Whether you’re a business trying to take advantage of the Internet for more leads or you’re a marketer, changing your content creation strategy to follow these guidelines will benefit you greatly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t everything. As Google continues to put out new updates and tweak their algorithm, the SEO game will continue to change.