Do you know Google is no longer very interested in understanding the keyword for which you optimize your content?
What it’s trying to do is understand topics, not just individual keywords. This is simply referred to as Semantic SEO. Semantic search is the practice of creating topic [not keyword] optimized content.
In some years past, Google used to only look at keywords to measure the relevance of content. You needed to fill your posts with these keywords for the search giant to think you have the most relevant article.
As people understood and tried to mess up with stuffing keywords, competition was getting stronger and Google became wiser.
Optimizing for short and long tail keywords isn’t as result-driven as always. Run a long tail keyword on Google and you’ll find out most of the entries on SERP aren’t even optimized for it.
Here is proof with the keyword: link building tools SEO
None of the 10 entries on SERP #1 is optimized for this exact match key phrase. That’s something worth keeping in mind.
My Semantic SEO Experience and Results
I want to say a huge thank you to Sue for allowing me share with you my personal experience after tweaking two and more of my existing blog posts.
Two weeks ago, I came across a tool that’s specifically designed to enhance your content semantics.
It allows me to simply enter any keyword and URL to a published article. It will then scan the article and make a list of suggested words to add to my content. You may want to read more about it on my blog here.
I have been experimenting with several old posts on my blog and here is a suggested list I had after trying the keyword “SEO” on an already published post:
Now, if I had to rank for the keyword “SEO” in the pre-hummingbird days, I would make sure this keyword appears on some parts of my content (You know what I’m talking about).
Google would measure the density of the keyword in the content and determine its value. Other factors like backlinks counted as well.
Semantic Search sees it differently. Instead of the search engine counting the occurrences of this keyword in the content, it will match it out with other topically relevant keywords like:
- Online presence
- Targeted traffic
- Matt Cutts
- Web design
- Online Marketing
- Social media
- Content Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Marketing Strategies
- Website Ranking
The list of semantic alternative words to add to my article was quite long. Meaning, I could go on and on to add more value to the post.
This brings me to understand why long form content does better in search. The longer the article, the more the semantic variations to pull traffic.
What changes did I get after two weeks
When I started this, I knew this would spit out positive results. Not only are my articles given freshness, they are also getting more topical relevance.
I didn’t just want to make conclusions without data backings. About two weeks after carrying out some semantic updates on one of my articles, there has been over 200% in CTR:
Now you notice an ongoing improvement in rank position. This definitely is responsible for a 48% increase in impressions and up to a 277% remarkable positive chance in CTR.
What you should do
If you care about natural search traffic, give attention to semantic or topical relevance in your articles.
Go through some of your old posts that are ranking on pages 2 or 3 of SERP. Add semantic words, increase the length and watch for an improvement in ranking.
Don’t ignore keywords altogether. That’s the foundation for your article to expand. People use keywords to search but Google uses topical understanding to give them answers. Do your keyword research but optimize for topic.
Keyword Variation is not LSI (Semantic Keywords)
Let’s take our short tail keyword and make it longer from “SEO” to “SEO for WordPress bloggers”
What do you think could be potential variations?
Here are my ideas:
- SEO for bloggers
- WordPress bloggers
- SEO for WordPress
Now playing with these words isn’t semantic optimization at all. Google is wise enough to know you don’t have mastery of the subject.
Here are some semantic ideas for the keyword “SEO for WordPress Bloggers”:
- Google webmaster tools
- Meta Description
- Inbound links
- Matt Cutts
- Install WordPress
- WordPress themes
Using Semantic optimization is not saying the same thing differently. But that’s what keyword variation is all about. Semantics means to make what you’ve said more valuable and meaningful by adding known elements to the mix.
Other SEO factors to help your Semantic exercise
There are other aspects of your website you must work out so that your semantic optimization shouldn’t go wasted.
1) Give your site an SEO friendly web hosting
If you are new to blogging, this is one thing you will hear so often. The reason is that if where you host your blog isn’t optimized for speed, Google will simply frown at you and your ranking will suffer the effect.
But I know it’s difficult to find the best web host as the industry is getting inundated. I have always asked readers to check out my friend Dev’s list of Managed WordPress Hosting, that’s if you are a WordPress blogger.
Sue has one other helpful article on 8 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Web-Hosting Provider
2) Your CTR (Click through Rate) on the search engine results pages
Getting ranked is one thing. Maintaining the ranking is another. Click Through Rate is a rank maintaining factor.
The more clicks you get on the search engine result page, the more Google things your article applies to searchers’ query. If searchers don’t click your listing, Google is going to gradually move you off as it thinks people don’t want you.
Improving your SERP CTR is by writing catchy titles and meta descriptions that attract the searchers’ clicks.
3) Properly introduce and format your content
Your article introduction plays a vital role in your overall SEO strategies. Poor introductions could lead people to quickly click away, giving RankBrain (Google’s artificial intelligence) bad signals.
If the visitors quickly click the back button and return to SERP to only click the next entry, this is a Pogo-sticking effect which tells Google you may be misleading visitors. That’s bad.
- Dish any free themes.
- Upgrade to premium themes with proper fonts, formatting and coloring.
- These are all factors that can either keep folks reading your blog or drive them away as soon as they land on it, wasting your semantic SEO.
Thanks for reading about my experience. Let’s have a chat in the comment box. Let me know if you’ve had any Semantic SEO experience before.
Enstine Muki is a Full-Time blogger and Certified Cryptocurrency Expert. In one of his most popular posts, he shares 15 ways bloggers make money blogging.