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Semantic search engine optimization

Google now proceeds semantically. What does semantic search engine optimization mean? The well-known search engine now focuses on quality and no longer on a flood of keywords. The meaning of the search query is now important and is examined in detail, as well as user behaviour, in order to display search results that match as closely as possible. This changes a lot in the search engine optimization, because …

Semantic search engine optimization - how Google now interprets search queries

That’s why you also need semantic search engine optimization

Google now proceeds semantically. What does semantic search engine optimization mean? The well-known search engine now focuses on quality and no longer on a flood of keywords. The meaning of the search query is now important and is examined in detail, as well as user behaviour, in order to display search results that match as closely as possible. This changes a lot in search engine optimization, because it now depends on the context of the internet user.

In order to strengthen the user experience and to display only the most relevant results to each user, Google has spent several years refining its semantic search. The result is an individual, personalized search engine that examines user behavior and examines websites for their quality and topic relevance. The new intelligent technology places a multitude of new demands on search engine optimization (SEO).

A good ranking counts as a success factor – over 90 percent of users only click on the top results in the search engine and do not even switch to page 2. Potential customers will only find your website if you are visible in the search engine results (SERPs), i.e. as high up as possible.

Semantic search engine optimization - What is it?

In 2013 Google carried out the Hummingbird update, which has significantly changed the requirements for SEO. It examines search queries for their meaning so that individualized results are displayed in the search engine for each user. But what exactly does “semantic search engine optimization” mean? In order to really understand the topic, some background information is necessary.

Semantics
The word semantics is derived from the ancient Greek word for “to designate” and is today translated as meaning theory. In linguistics, semantics is the science of the meaning of signs and deals with the relationship between signs and meaning. For example, it examines the meaning of a word and the context of its use.

Semantic Search
Keywords take a back seat in the semantic search. The meaning of the search query is now important and it depends on who is currently using Google search. In other words, the Google algorithm examines the relationship of words and phrases in context. Google now delivers personalized answers.

How good the result is depends on how much the user reveals about himself. Algorithms try to recognize the meaning of website texts and internal links for semantic search engine optimization.

This is a big change for SEO, because the concept that a certain keyword is number 1 in Google searches no longer exists. This means that websites must pay more attention to good content. Because the better the content and structure is recognised and the higher the quality of the content, the more likely it is that a good ranking can be achieved on Google.

Semantic search engine optimization - the development

One can assume that Google has been working on the development of the semantically influenced search engine since 2007. The first official announcement followed in 2009. The focus was on semantic influences on the search engine. A completely semantic search was not possible and would have negatively influenced the loading speed of the search results and the users would have suffered from poor usability. Therefore, further technical developments had to be made first.

Metawebs
In 2010, Google bought Metawebs and with it the semantic database Freebase, with which data can be collected in a structured way and relationships can be established. Freebase took advantage of the development of semantic search because it is necessary to really understand a user’s search query if you want to present suitable websites in the results.

At the same time, Google was working on its own semantic database: the Knowledge Graph, which was introduced in 2012. The Knowledge Graph was fed with the freebase data.

Hummingbrid
In 2013, the Hummingbird update will have given the final go-ahead for semantic search engine optimization. The most important goal was or is to recognize the meaning of a search query in relation to its context. Both the search context and the user context, e.g. its search history, play a role, as does the relationship of the terms used.

RankBrain
In 2015 Google integrated the search algorithm RankBrain. The new algorithm is, so to speak, an update patch for Hummingbird and optimized the displayed search results even more in terms of semantic search. In 2015, the algorithm only managed to process about 15 percent of search queries. Meanwhile RankBrain analyzes all search queries. The development of this artificial intelligence goes back to Google’s parent company Alphabet.

RankBrain was set up with machine learning technologies, making Google searches even more accurate. RankBrain is thus an extension of the Hummingbird update, which now checks up to 200 factors to display search results tailored to the user. The artificial intelligence is able to recognize connections and relationships itself.

The semantic search offers many advantages for the user. For the SEO this means big changes with online marketing measures perfectly adapted to the target group.

Being recognized by Google as an entity
Entities on the Internet can be persons, companies, concepts, recipes, cities, etc. They can also be called digital entities, which exist on the basis of a real entity from the “real world”. The environment in which they are located is called ontology. In semantics, entities and their ontologies are always characterized by certain properties.

In search engine optimization, one entity stands for an entire semantic space.  Google splits the search query into different entities. The semantic search engine optimization is based on the identification as an entity. For this, a website, for example, must cover an entire semantic space with its contents.

For the search engine Google this means that a website, an online shop or a profile in social media must meet certain requirements in order to be recognized as an entity.

Brands/ companies as entities
The digital entity of a brand or company is primarily the website. The entity can be supported by social media profiles to send signals external to Google’s website. Google recognizes entities more easily when the search engine receives several different signals from trusted sources.

The digital entity still needs a thematic context. Appropriate content signals to the search engine what it is about. The more consistent and structured it is, the better the information can be processed by Google.

There are two ways to structure the data. OnPage is about the content of the website itself. Through internal links and structured text with headings and subheadings, or through the standardized markup language, Schema.org, which some search engines have agreed on.

OffPage is about entries in meta databases, yellow pages and niche search engines.  In the case of external signals, for example, it is a good idea to include opening hours, telephone numbers, etc., so that interested parties can find you quickly with a chance to contact you.

But there are also some things that Google does not regard as entities

  • Industries
  • Vehicles
  • URLs
  • Domains
  • Documents
  • General topics (e.g. search engine optimization)

How come they’re not entities? A domain, for example, is the digital image of an entity. The task of webmasters is to bring their own real entity to the internet with the help of a domain and to signal to Google that it is the digital image of a real entity. To do this, Google must recognize the connection between the domain and the entity.

As is so often the case in search engine optimization, it is not possible to say exactly what Google now attaches particular importance to. But if possible, you should always send OnPage and OffPage signals. Not to do this means that you voluntarily renounce a possibly good ranking in the search engine results and thus all remaining online marketing measures are in vain.

To be recognized as an entity, a website should therefore

  • send internal and external signals
  • Offer added value
  • Building trust
  • have a thematic context

The most important thing is to establish it as a brand.

 

The Knowledge Graph
Since 2012, Google has been preparing information on entities in the Knowledge Graph, which is displayed on the right-hand side of SERPs. The functionality of the Knowledge Graph was optimized by the Hummingbird update. This involves:

Company/Brands

  • People
  • Places/cities
  • Buildings
  • Animals

Google generates these boxes itself and searches for the necessary information, if it is about places or known persons, Wikipedia is often reproduced.

Here you can see the example based on Angela Merkel. The short info text was also taken from Wikipedia. The Google-algorithm has searched out several pictures of Mrs. Merkel as well as persons who could also fit the search.

Next, I entered “Mybettingdeals” into the Google search. Here, too, Google has selected several photos and provides the most important information for interested people, such as address, opening hours and telephone number.

For interested parties and companies the Entity Box is a great advantage. Interested parties receive the most important information at a glance and have the opportunity to contact companies via the search results. With enterprises likewise existing reviews are indicated.


Google recognizes the relationship of entities
As Donald Trump has already shown, Google displays further persons or entities within the Knowledge Box that could be relevant for the searcher. Often entities that are related to the person being searched for are also recognized and displayed here.

If you google Sean Connery, for example, in addition to photos and biographical details, the films in which he has appeared and people who could also play a role in the search query are displayed. Among others, other James Bond actors such as Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, but also Sean Connery’s son. Since James Bond is one of the most famous roles of Sean Connery, Google assumes that I am looking for information on this topic. Google has therefore analyzed and provided all the important information about Sean Connery.

Internet users who have entered Sean Connery in the search will receive private information as well as further information about actors who could also be interesting for the user. This way it is ensured that the user finds what he is looking for.

Here you can also see that the ontology to Sean Connery is clearly movies or actors.

One can divide the semantic relationships into four levels:

  • Search intent
  • User context
  • Thematic relevance
  • Depth of content


The Semantic Analysis

How exactly does Google analyse the relationship between topics? There is no official answer to this question, but there are various approaches that seem to make sense. For example, the correlation of search terms in connection with brand names could be used to define an entity. For example, an ontology could be “clothing”. This includes various terms such as jeans, T-shirt, socks etc.

These terms often appear, for example, in connection with the retailer Zara. Thus Zara can be assigned as an entity of an ontology. This also means that Zara has already established itself as a brand and has a high reach and authority on the Internet. Further entities in this ontology could be the online merchants ABOUTYOU or limango.


Google associates search queries

Google can also analyse which content users search for and in which sequence. In this way, affiliations of the products or contents are determined. For example, a smartphone is usually first searched for and possibly purchased before users google for mobile phone covers.

The individual analysis of user behaviour is especially important for the so-called “teapot”. These are homonyms, i.e. two words with the same spelling but different meanings, e.g. bank.

With hymonyms, it is therefore necessary to analyse the user behaviour and, depending on this, to determine the presumably appropriate meaning and, on this basis, to present suitable results in the search engine. Therefore the web protocol of users is important to filter out preferences and interests. For example, if a user has recently been looking for more furnishings, it can be assumed that he or she is looking for a carpet with the search term “runner”.

The connections between terms and topics can be investigated in some tools. This can be helpful not only for SEO experts, but also for copywriters and marketers. I recommend the tools Vionto and Semager. However, it should be mentioned here that the tools often show different results on one topic. Therefore, they serve more as a suggestion than as a reliable tool for search engine optimization.

 

From entity to brand
First, Google must recognize the digital entity. To do this, the data should be structured according to Schema.org, for example. Further influencing factors are the linking to the brand as link text, the optimization of meta information and content. Linking and content are particularly important for Semantic SEO. The goal is to evolve from a digital entity to a digital brand or authority. Only with successful branding a top placement in the SERPs is achieved.

Three things are important for Semantic SEO. The popularity of a brand, its authority and its trustworthiness. These factors cannot be influenced by classical SEO measures alone.

 

Popularity
To be recognized as an entity by Google, a brand must have a certain popularity. An indicator of popularity is the amount of search volume for the trademark or domain.  In relation to the search volume, the number of clicks also plays a role. If the click rate is particularly high, the semantic search engine can combine the brand name with the domain and thus even identify names without a link.

 

Authority
To become an authority, an entity must demonstrate expertise. This is done through high-quality products, services or the provision of valuable information. It is always about providing an even better answer, or offering even better products than the competition.

Authority is therefore strongly related to popularity and especially to trustworthiness. With own content and domain names on other platforms, Google signals authority.

 

Reputation
A good reputation is mainly related to quality and trustworthiness. Signs of this are conversions, high retention times and the number of returning website visitors. This shows that user behaviour is the decisive sign for Google that a brand is trustworthy.

Backlinks are another signal. Other websites set up links to their own website. This means that other website operators place trust in the website. Other signals are influencer relationships and the number of contacts in social media channels.

Branding is an important criterion for semantic search engine optimization. For this to work, some SEO measures OnPage and OffPage are necessary.

How does Semantic Search Engine Optimization work?

Search engine optimization includes all measures that are taken to ensure that a website or online shop receives a better ranking in the results of search engines. SEO is an important component in online marketing. Only with SEO a website or an online shop can be found in search engines and only if interested people find the website, more sales can be generated.

The alignment of SEO strategies takes place primarily in relation to the search engine Google. With a market share of over 90 percent, Google is the largest and therefore also the most important search engine. SEO is a long-term process. Only with regular supervision and monitoring can good results be achieved in the long term.

Semantic search engine optimization is a good example of how the Internet does not stand still. It is dynamic and constantly evolving and so a good SEO strategy should be aligned. Only by checking the measures can improvements be made if necessary and this ensures good results and success in the long term.

While at the end of the 1990s the meta data of websites and their texts were still in the foreground, today the quality of the content is of particular importance.

A good SEO strategy includes measures OnPage and OffPage.

semantic search engine optimization- OnPage factors

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Keywords
For the keyword research the analysis of the target group is in the foreground. Tools such as the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, XOVI, Searchmetrics or Sistrix are helpful for keyword research.

The aim is to find out which keywords the target group enters and which ones are useful to help them find the website. With keywords it is important to find the right measure. Enough keywords so that Google understands what it is all about, but nothing more. Readability and user-friendliness are now clearly in the foreground.

 

Content
For the search engine Google, high-quality content with added value has been an important criterion for placement in the search engine results since the Panda update in 2011. Content includes all content, i.e. not only text, but also images, videos, competitions, etc. .

Good content is what makes websites interesting and no online marketing can do without exciting content. Content not only beautifies a website visually, but also adds value for visitors. For Semantic Search Engine Optimization, topics should be treated holistically and fit to the whole subject area of the website.

Good content makes websites interesting and increases the user experience. With a good user experience, the convesion rate can be increased and the bounce rate minimized. It is therefore an important factor for SEO. Content is King!

 

Usability
The usability of a website is also important for the user experience. It ensures that visitors stay longer and call up more pages. The usability is therefore also strongly dependent on the content. The navigation structure of the website is important for usability, because the user experience is only good if visitors can find what they are looking for.

 

Snippets
The meta-information is what users can see in the SERPs. So it is the reason why users click on the link. This includes the SEO title, the meta-description and the permalink. The meta-information should be designed so that users know what it’s all about.

The meta-description should also make it clear why the website offers users added value and why you should click on the link.

It has also been found that snippets with stars generate more visits because users associate the stars with quality.

 

Internal and external links
Link building is one of the most important instruments of search engine optimization. While internal links provide added value and, due to their forwarding function, ensure a longer stay and more page views per visitor, external links provide more information.

However, the danger of external links is that visitors leave the website via the links and do not come back. It is therefore recommended that external links be equipped with the command target=_blank, whereby they are opened in a new tab and the own website remains open.

External links should only be used if necessary and redirect to reputable sources. This also increases the trust of visitors in you and your website. Especially the internal links should be maintained regularly, because a good structure is important for crawling.

 

PageSpeed
The loading time of a website is an important criterion for the ranking, especially in the top positions at Google. If a website loads too long, users leave the site and look for the desired information or products from the competition.

Meanwhile, a loading time of 4 seconds or more already counts as a knockout criterion. Optimal is a loading time of one to 2 seconds. Also for the Googlebot the loading time plays an important role. It regularly crawls websites, which means it analyses them. The shorter the loading time and the better the structure of the website, the more often Google crawls it.

 

Social Sharings
Social sharing buttons refer to the social media channels used. They encourage interaction and increase the range.

 

Mobile SEO
The majority of users nowadays surf the Internet via mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones, so websites and online shops should definitely be optimized for these devices. If you google from a smartphone, only websites with a responsive design will make it to the top of the list.

However, mobile optimization is not important for the search engine ranking of desktop devices. However, since most Internet users now surf the Internet with mobile devices, mobile optimization of websites offers great potential that should definitely be exploited.

 

Technical SEO
The main areas of Technical SEO are indexing control, crawling control and website hygiene. Here the functionality of the website is monitored, such as the accessibility of URLs and the website is optimized for Googlebot crawling.

Semantic search engine optimization - OffPage factors

For the OffPage area, branding is important in semantic search engine optimization. Therefore, the development from an entity to a brand an OffPage-SEO is mainly backlinks are used But through the semantic search, the establishment as an entity also plays an important role.

 

Backlinks
A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is a link that leads from another website to your own. Whether the updates Penguin and Panda, the quality of the backlinks and whether they are linked on a reputable website is what matters most. In the past it was said that the more backlinks the better, which is why so-called link farms developed.

Nowadays the backlinks should be organic. That means they should make sense and for the sake of naturalness, different numbers of useful backlinks should be set in a period of time. The linking must be relevant to the topic. Manipulations are punished by Google.

 

Success with semantic texts
Strictly speaking, this refers to meaningful and relevant texts. In terms of semantic search engine optimization, however, one can certainly speak of semantic texts. Content is an essential component of online marketing and SEO. Without good content, visitors cannot be bound and they leave the website or do not return.

First of all, it is important that the content on a website is relevant to the topic and fits the website thematically. Furthermore, the texts must be designed in a reader-friendly way. It is exhausting for internet users to read long texts on the screen. Especially since many surf the Internet via comparatively small screens of mobile devices.

Therefore, the texts should be well structured and arranged with subheadings. Attention should also be paid to paragraphs as long as they are meaningful. Short text blocks are easier to read than a long, uniform continuous text. Therefore a paragraph follows now.

 

The role of keywords
Keywords still play a role in search engine optimization, but the weighting has changed. Texts should not be eaten up by a main keyword nowadays, because Google will consider this as keyword spam. The main keyword and the other keywords should refer to the topic, but this is mainly done by the topic relevance of the terms used.

It is therefore e.g. good to use a synonym for the main keyword more often. The topic becomes clear by the fact that there are many words in this one topic area. For example, I could set the word “clothing” as the main keyword for a text and should use it from time to time, e.g. in the headlines and also in the snippet. By using related terms like “clothes”, “jeans”, “jacket” I give Google further signals.

Content is the cornerstone of every internet presence. It serves as “bait” for internet users to visit and stay on a website and has a positive effect on the semantic search engine optimization through the thematic definition and the user experience. With good content, companies can stand out from the competition and create unique added value for visitors.

Due to Semantic Search, it has become increasingly important to optimize content using the WDF*IDF formula.

Semantic search engine optimization - tips & error prevention

Many website operators make typical mistakes that lower the ranking and can easily be avoided. It is of course advisable to pay attention to the search engine optimization directly when creating a website, but also afterwards some improvements can be made, which can have a visible effect on the ranking in the Google search results. Here I would like to give you some tips to lay the foundation for a successful search engine optimization.

Tips

  • Branding and awareness on the Internet, by naming OffPage
  • Create thematic relevance.
  • Analysis of the target group to find out the relevant keywords.
  • unique content with quality.
  • Internal links bring added value and increase the length of stay and page views per visitor.
  • Backlinks provide more quality.
  • Optimization for mobile devices.
  • Regular monitoring and optimization measures.

 

Typical errors

  • No or few internal and external links.
  • the Googlebot has not yet crawled the website, i.e. it has not yet been reported to Google.
  • bad PageSpeed.
  • Your policies block the Googlebot.
  • Semantic search engine optimization and its meaning

Semantic search means big changes, both for providers and for Internet users. The search results are tailored to the users. This means that in the best case, they save themselves the long search on the Internet, because Google already knows the user and his habits through the past and retrieved information. Therefore, Google can provide the most suitable result lists. In this way, customer satisfaction is significantly increased.

For the Internet, semantic search engine optimization initially means rethinking. To establish brands correctly, good content is more important than ever before. Users can now compare products and services better with each other, which means that the competition has become tougher. Without the right marketing measures, you basically have no chance of establishing yourself on the digital market.

In addition, Google is being developed further and further. New updates and improved analysis tools increase the opportunities to establish oneself on the Internet, but also make it more difficult to distinguish oneself from the competition. Quality is playing an increasingly decisive role. Websites must regularly adapt to these regulations and stay up to date.

Semantic search also has an impact on SEA. For example, the AdSense tool also uses Google’s semantic analysis. The better you can determine the content of a website thematically, the better the ads will be targeted.

The semantic analysis of search engines has greatly improved the general user experience through individual alignment. Instead of achieving a good ranking in the SERPs with as many keywords as possible, quality is now important in many areas, such as links and content.

 

Conclusion – That’s why you too need semantic search engine optimization
The term semantic search engine optimization sounds new, abstract and some questions arise: “Why don’t I just use keywords? The answer is simple. The internet and search engine optimization have changed significantly over the last 20 years and Google has contributed a lot to this. Semantic search engine optimization has increased the requirements but also improved the user experience. Of course, semantic search engine optimization is more complex than its predecessor, but it also offers great potential that should definitely be exploited.

Your internet presence is your figurehead, so it is worth investing in a good online marketing strategy. The majority of consumers are now looking for information, products or services online, and in doing so they also find out directly about the providers. Without SEO, good online marketing cannot work. Semantic search engine optimization has brought new challenges to SEO agencies. SEO measures must be even more sophisticated and individual.

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