Semantics is a part of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, sentences, phrases, and larger discourse units. So, semantics is the study of the language and the importance of the words used in it. For example, when it comes to searching the web, Google uses semantics to understand and identify users’ intentions and what they are trying to find. When Google “understands” this, it displays the search results it deems most relevant to what the user is searching for.
Semantic search takes into account four elements in deciding what will appear in search results:
- The innate understanding of language or “semantics.”
- User search context
- The context of the query flow and how the queries are related to each other
- Identify entities to connect topics.
In short, a semantic search is a place where Google analyzes all the above information and tries to understand the natural language behind what is being searched for. This allows Google to provide more relevant search results.
A decade ago, search engines like Google were ranking websites for search terms mainly based on the keywords in the website content and back-links to the website. Hence most search engine optimization firms focused on ensuring that the content had the relevant keywords, especially long-term keywords, to rank well in the search engine results. However, later after doing extensive research on the behavior of the search engine users, it was found that the users are looking for information that will answer their queries. Hence search engines like google are also trying to find out what the user is looking for while generating search results that will satisfy the user.
What are Semantic Keywords in SEO?
Semantic keywords represent groups of words that are connected by meaning. Additionally, semantic keywords refer to the purpose and intent behind a specific keyword phrase. The importance of individual words in a group of words can mean something quite the opposite.
Semantic keyword problem example
For example, Word “umbrella” is a device used as protection against rain.
Word “fund” is the sum of money saved or made available for a particular purpose.
Semantically related keywords “Umbrella fund” represents a mutual fund that invests exclusively in other mutual funds.
As we can see, the word “umbrella” has nothing to do with finances but the “umbrella fund” has an entirely different meaning.
Semantics and keywords
In addition to keywords backlinks, the semantics of the page are also considered while ranking the page in the search results. Many businesses are told that if semantically related keywords are used in the website content, the ranking of their website in the search engines will improve. Hence many companies want to find out What are semantically related keywords. Semantics is a specialization in the field of Linguistics that tries to understand the meaning of words other than the dictionary meaning. Thus, keywords related to each other semantically are words or phrases used in the same context.
For example, for the keyword “search volume,” some semantically related keywords are paid search, keyword research, online marketing, PPC, SEO. This is because usually, only a person involved in online marketing of websites and businesses, using PPC, SEO, or other methods, is likely to be interested in search volumes for the different keywords. Hence, instead of only using keywords while choosing the pages that would rank well in the search results, search engines like Google are also checking the other keywords included in the page to decide whether the page is relevant.
Earlier, the search engines were considering the keyword density of the keyword being searched, which led to a lot of spam content with keyword stuffing that was not helpful or readable. Hence the web crawlers and search engines tried to evaluate the usefulness of a particular webpage by checking whether it contained the other terms related to the keyword. If the content of the webpage were written for a human audience, it would usually have words that are semantically connected to the main keyword and used along with the main keyword in the description.
Search ranking and keywords
Increasingly Google and other search engines focus on user intent while displaying the search results for a particular search term and user. In addition, the user’s history is also considered while showing search results. Hence, search engine optimization (SEO) agencies are trying to ensure that the website content includes keywords that are semantically related to the main keywords being searched, for which the products or services are sold. This can help improve the website’s ranking for many keywords, especially if there is a lot of competition for the keywords.