For any business looking to increase their visibility online, search engine optimisation (SEO) is the first port of call for strengthening your organic keyword rankings, which will, in turn, have a welcome positive impact on site traffic and whatever constitutes a conversion for your business.
In recent years, though, the SEO landscape has evolved dramatically – meaning brands need to do far more than simply pepper their onsite content with core keywords and phrases, which would’ve made the grade less than a decade ago.
Much of this is due to continual algorithm updates made by Google and designed to optimise the user’s online experience by delivering more relevant search results to best answer their initial enquiry. This is where semantic content optimisation comes into play.
To help you gain a better understanding of semantic optimsation and its importance as a content marketing tool for your business, this post will be delving into the world of semantics and SEO to explain how the two combine to support a robust marketing strategy.
What is semantic optimisation?
In order to understand the value of semantic optimisation and what it can mean for your business, you’ll first need to understand exactly what it is.
In years gone by, SEO involved using targeted keywords (fairly liberally) in onsite content in an aim to improve ranking performance within search results. This meant many sites often used unfavourable techniques, such as keyword-stuffing, in order to stake their claim to the coveted top spot. However, since the introduction of Google’s Panda update (first rolled out in February 2011) which took aim at sites using these manipulative optimisation tactics, search engine optimisers have worked towards a new, better way of creating content that appeals to the almighty Google – and the answer is topical relevance.
For many businesses, this meant keyword-optimised pages that previously ranked well in search for specific keywords fell from their hard-fought positions in search engine results pages (SERPs), simply because they didn’t demonstrate the same topical relevance as competing pages.
The idea behind semantic optimisation is not to forego keyword optimisation altogether, but instead to bring more depth and meaning to your onsite content – incorporating not just a single specific search term, but a whole family of relevant phrases and words that users may be searching for.
What does this mean for onsite content?
Google search is now firmly geared towards directing users to pages with the most relevant information possible, which is good news for the sites housing the most in-depth and useful content.
So, in short, the mission is no longer to have each page answer one simple user query, but to answer all of the many related questions on a given topic in order to be as thorough, accommodating and illustrative of your expertise as possible. Sounds a little complicated, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.
When writing onsite content, you should now be thinking far beyond the core keywords that immediately surround your product or service – focusing on these as you always have, as well as broadening your view to the topic as a whole and all of its relevant facets. For example, a person searching for ‘cheap laptops’ may want to find not only suitable products to buy, but also key information on pricing, features, specs, warranty, delivery and so on.
With this in mind, when optimising content, the aim is to try and answer all of the numerous possible questions in one place – enhancing the user experience and improving the page’s relevance in the eyes of Google’s algorithm and raters. This broader view also helps you to form a better understanding of the user’s intent and ensure your content meets all of their imaginable needs.
In order to create page content that’s meaningful and informative, in many cases, this means seriously dialling up the word count. While a snappy and succinct page or blog post can contain ample information on a narrower topic, broader or deeper topics generally benefit from an increased word count to ensure you’re providing as much detail on the main topic itself, as well as the more niche subtopics associated. Of course, this doesn’t mean using more words for the sake of it. The goal is always to say what there is to say (of value) on a given topic – no more, no less.
What’s the commercial value of semantic optimisation?
From a commercial point of view, taking a sophisticated, semantic approach to page optimisation can add serious long-term value for your business. Above all else, your semantically optimised pages will be empowered to rank for a broader range of keywords, including not only variants of your core keyword but also a number of more obscure ‘longtail’ terms you may not have initially considered.
On top of that, though, taking a semantic approach to optimising your onsite content can also earn you even greater visibility in search results – with the possibility of you being able to earn a place above the coveted number 1 spot by winning relevant featured snippets.
Featured snippets actually appear above position 1 in organic search results, meaning that winning one of these for your site essentially equates to occupying ‘position 0’. Depending on the type of search and the accuracy and succinctness of the information provided in the featured snippet, users may not even scroll down the search results page to find the organic search results below – so, if you’re able to win that all-important spot for your chosen keyword, you’re guaranteed to get noticed at no extra cost.
Naturally, from a business point of view, this visibility in a crowded marketplace is always welcome – but the key here is to ensure the content relating to the topic you want to rank for is as informative, concise and useful as possible to stand a chance of holding on to this enviable position.
Whether you’re looking to completely overhaul your onsite content or to simply give it more clout when it comes to topical relevance, there’s no doubt that semantic optimisation is here to stay – particularly as voice search becomes an ever more prominent part of our lifestyles as users.
If you’re ready to work with a digital team who love nothing more than a meaty semantic optimisation strategy or just want to know more about how this new content optimisation standard could benefit your business, get in touch with us today by heading to our Contact page or calling the Land Digital team on 0191 5111014.