SEO in the era of Semantics
Before getting into Semantic SEO, let’s understand what Semantics really mean.
Simply put, Semantics is the study of the meaning of language. It also deals with varieties and changes in the meaning of words, phrases, sentences, and text based on circumstances. Each word, phrase or sentence can mean differently. For example, the word Crash can mean crash of an automobile. The same word can have a different meaning in the context of stock markets.
By applying the knowledge of Semantics in their algorithm search engines can produce results that are based on Semantics and not just on Keywords. In our example of the word crash, search engines would produce different results for different sets of audience.
Now let’s understand Semantics with respect to Search Engines
The way people search for information on the web is changing. The Search engine results pages show the list of websites based on the intent of the search now. This is in contrast to earlier versions of the search results that were primarily based on the relevance of keywords (or key phrase) and link popularity.
Search engines are getting smarter to understand the actual intent of users search criteria based on many elements that add together to create searcher’s persona. These elements include previous search patterns of the searchers, his or her geographic location, context or the background; and of course the use of keywords or phrase. Keywords are still important but not the only criteria anymore.
Let’s understand this with an example. The term “President” is used in many contexts. However, when I enter this term on Google, I get results about the current president of India. The search engine could have shown the results about the US president too. But the search engine (Google in this case) understood my intent based on my previous search, my location, and my natural or conversational language. When I made a slight change to my query and entered the term “Presidents” instead of “President”, Google gave me a list of all the Indian Presidents.
With one simple query, I could see who our Presidents were, and I could dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works. In a way, Google drove me to the answers by knowing my intent by intuitively understanding my keywords.
This new avatar of search engine results is referred to as Search results based on semantics. Content optimization keeping in view the algorithms that are built to throw semantic based results are often called Semantic Search Engine Optimization or Semantic SEO.
In this article, we understood what Semantics really means and how semantics is impacting the way search engines work. In the next article in this series of Semantics SEO, we will learn why Digital Marketers need to think deeply about Semantic based Search Engine Optimization?