semantic seo

What is Semantic SEO?

A  simple sentence or two will not be sufficient to describe this sea-change in search engine optimization. Think of semantic as “meaning” and link it to ideas of value, authority and  viewer intent  and context  and you will begin to see the significance of semantic SEO.

In more formal terms the word semantic is commonly defined as “…the branch of linguistics that deals with the study of meaning, changes in meaning, and the principles that govern the relationship between sentences or words and their meaning” (Source:  So,in essence semantics is concerned with  holistic and coherent patterns of meaning and, for SEO purposes, the way that meaning is constructed by the searcher and interpreted by the search engine

Semantic SEO is best described by these quotes that sum up something what it is all about  “  Semantic search is about identifying intent and contextual meaning” and ”  In the future the web will be driven by users not by content” ( from Sharon Hurley Hall). 

There is obviously a lot to discuss and understand here.  Firstly, it is clearly a radical shift  from straightforward  keyword based search and optimization.  Google and other search engines have developed more intelligent algorithms  that are able to ascertain intent and context in their search results. What this means in one sense is that, notwithstanding  the words being types into the search box,  the search engine has already gleaned an indication of context and intent on the part of the searcher  from his or her online habits and history. However, as many pundits are at pains to point out, this does not mean the end of keyword research in SEO – it does mean that  the keywords now have to be considered in context and in terms of the overall Gestalt or inclusive meaning  of the search intention. 

Besides all the theory, the BIG question of course is how do we come to terms with and apply Semantic SEO? What do we need to do?

On one level  there is only one way to to succeed. This is by producing quality content that is authoritative and that provides value to your viewers and clients – and develops trust in a certain field  or area of interest.  Take for example a point made in the infographic below: that search results will be based not on keywords alone but by ascertaining( via complex algorithms) what the user is searching for in order to produce  better and more accurate results.

The point that should be stressed is that in Semantic SEO there are no economical  short cuts  or quick and dirty tricks; which is precisely why Google has taken this route to reduce spammy and poor search results. It is still theoretically possible to “game’ the system but it has also become too costly or time consuming to do so.

In short “… Google is not just about simply discovering information any more it’s about ordering the web into a coherent flow of information; how topics, themes, ideas, text, video, audio, all of it is connected and relate to each other.”  Understanding  this statement  leads to a host of related topics such as  structured data markup, schema and  knowledge which we will discuss in future blog posts.

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