Semantics: The New Google SEO Mandate

It seems that, according to Google’s Hummingbird update, there’s no such thing as a double entendre. Phrases or words that have two meanings, only do so because people are not bothering to look at the context of the phrase or word. Once that happens, then one can know with certainty what that search phrase means and Google can provide a specific answer to that keyword phrase based on the context of the question. In other words, if one looks at keyword searches semantically, instead of focusing on the keywords alone, then one can understand how the new Google update returns results for the more conversational type questions typed into the Google search engine. Now, business owners who focus mostly on old-fashioned keyword density to drive traffic will be left behind those who understand that content and context are going to affect semantic searching much more than just the keywords alone. They will need to focus on modernising their approach to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to yield results.

The Rise of Conversational Searching

What’s impacted this change towards semantic searching that caused Google to issue Hummingbird in the first place? Google never actually wanted to search for keywords; it always wanted to provide intelligent answers to the questions posed to its search engine. Keywords were just one way to find that content. However, as the SEO industry blossomed, so did people wanting to game the system. More and more marketers were trying to stuff keywords or fool the search engine into directing traffic to sites that sometimes had little to do with the actual keyword. In the meantime, people searching online never searched by typing only keywords, they often included a phrase or question. Mobile voice searches have also come along putting an emphasis on more conversational style searching. By learning how people speak to each other, instead of focusing on keywords, Google has broken the semantic keywords searching algorithm’s code and established a new way to judge whether content served up by the search engine addresses the query or not.

Early Adoption Comes with Benefits

Like any new change that Google implements, early adopters tend to be the winners. Semantic searching is no different. Businesses that focus on long-tail keywords and content changes that appeal to the new algorithm will gain more traffic than those that don’t bother. In actuality, marketers should be breathing a sigh of relief. It can be a lot easier to implement semantic searching properties into content than it was to include random and arbitrary keywords into content in a way that sounded reasonably good. When done appropriately, the new strategy will improve all the new content on the site and should produce more incoming traffic that is highly targeted to what’s important to that particular business.

Why Long-Tail is the Way to Go

Long-tail keywords, also known as semantic keywords, have always produced unique sales opportunities for online businesses. Typically, they allowed online marketers to find the products and services that offline customers couldn’t find at a local vendor. They were items that weren’t as popular with the masses, so that they proved to be too costly to inventory or display without the potential of a quick sale. Those same items were easily displayed online since there was no inventory or stocking fees and no space to pay rent on either. Long-tail keywords helped businesses find the niches that they could exploit for sales online, and they still work much the same way. However, they also create context automatically, by their very nature, which also appeals to Google’s new semantics search engine algorithm. Thus, adopting the new semantics searching keyword strategy should also increase sales. It will bring users to your door that are looking for a particular item or service that is directly pinpointed by your long-tail keywords and content marketing in Google's search engine algorithm.

Content Marketing Must Change Also

Google is still looking for quality content, but now it wants to see more of it in a particular context. Google has the ability to search your content, not only on your website, but also on your social networking profiles and other online areas. Unlike keyword searching of the past, today’s context searching isn’t strictly on one web page. Google searches your entire site and your online presence to determine what you are all about. If you’re using long-tail keywords and none of the associated meanings and searches that go along with them, you won’t rank as high as someone that does take that into account in their content marketing strategy. That means that more content needs to be associated with the long-tail keywords and it should be put across the web, not just on your website, to create a cloud of different keyword phrases that are associated with the long-tail searching keywords.

Content Marketing that Responds to a User’s Needs

The whole point of semantic keyword searching is to meet the user’s needs when they plug in a question into the Google search engine. Keep that in mind when you are developing content, too. You can make your content more relevant to a particular long-tail keyword search by making sure it answers as many questions and concerns a user might have about it. You can do this through “How to” articles or in “Q&A” format. You can publish helpful research or produce industry seminars. Any content that helps to answer a user’s query and also applies to the long-tail keyword will be relevant to the user and also increases your standing in Google’s semantic keyword algorithm.

The Future Path of Semantics Searching

This trend towards semantic keywords searching is not going away. In fact, it should get even stronger as years pass by. Google has just started figuring out how to make its search engine read English like the average person. It will only continue to improve upon that basic strategy in the coming future. There is some debate on whether it's a good idea to revamp old content with semantics. Some experts theorize that Google might penalise those that do this action in bulk, however, up to this point that has not been proven. It should be safe to apply this strategy to all new content. In the future, it could be that instead of a smartphone, people will be asking their washing machine to deliver their favorite brand of laundry detergent, without actually naming the brand, the store, or their address, after they realise they are suddenly out and want to do a wash. This may seem far-fetched right now, but it is all in the works and will eventually come to pass. Those that continue to stay current on the changes like semantics searching will reap future marketing opportunities that will contribute substantially to their bottom line.


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