Agency Playbook: Semantic Search and Keyword Targeting in 2017
In the old days of search engine optimization, all you had to do was throw your keywords all over the page and Google would place you higher in the search results. People even went as far as stuffing keywords into text boxes in the background of the page so that the text was the same color as the background and not even visible to people visiting the website. The Google spiders would crawl the site, find the hidden text and rank the site based on that information. Those days are gone – and searchers are the ones who are enjoying the benefits of more sophisticated Google methods.
Google’s current search algorithms put the emphasis on providing quality information for users looking for specific key terms or phrases. Keywords are sprinkled throughout the content on the page, but keywords in the traditional sense are also outdated. Your focus for your website should be on answering searchers’ questions by providing vital information, with the keyword applicability and context being naturally derived without having to be manually included. To do this, you should understand a few points about search engine optimization, keywords, and search results as they apply today.
Understand Keyword Types
To understand how to optimize your website, you have to understand some basics about keywords and searches. Traditional keywords, which are one to two words, are short keywords or focus keywords. Longer strings of words are considered long tail keywords. The goal of SEO now is to optimize a website now for semantic searches instead of basic searches. Semantic searches take the purpose of a query into account whereas basic searches take only the typed words into account. In order to have a well-optimized website, you need to use long tail keywords naturally in content that answers the purpose of a searcher’s query.
Short keywords have an important purpose. These keywords help readers search out very basic information. But, they shouldn’t be the focus of a webpage. Instead, you need longtail keywords to help you tell the reader, and search engine bots, the full scope of the page. Searchers who have a basic understanding of a concept are more likely gong to search for more in-depth information and are likely one step closer to taking action to solve their problem. Searchers who are ready to take action are the ones who are easier to convert into clients.
Think About What Searchers Want to Know
Semantic searches – the new standard for Google – are those that take the full intent of the searcher into account. You have to think about what a person who is heading to your website would want to know. This isn’t something that is always easy to determine, so you may have to pull from a host of sources including surveys and visitor feedback, to determine what to include on your website. This is often complicated, so working with someone “in the know” regarding what readers want is often helpful.
Let’s look at a law firm as an example. The firm could base webpages on short focus keywords like “divorce” or “child custody” but those aren’t likely going to give the reader quality information. Instead, the firm should think about what a person who searches for “divorce” will want to know. The person might want to know what options they have for filing for divorce. They might want to know about specific aspects of a divorce, such as going through a divorce with children. That would be a longtail keyword to consider – “going through a divorce with children.” The firm would then base the entire webpage on answering questions that a parent going through a divorce might want to learn about child custody and child support. The page should include as much rich information as possible that is geared toward local laws and what options the person has.
Keep Content Easy to Understand Without Dumbing It Down
As you create content for your webpages, you need to think about your audience. You can’t write up pages for industry experts using the same terminology as you would use on a webpage for people who don’t have any knowledge of the industry. You have to provide high-quality information that is easy for the intended audience to digest without dumbing down your content.
Using the law firm example again – think about how different a page for other lawyers to review would be from one to` potential clients. The page for lawyers would likely include snippets of law codes that a layperson might not be able to understand. On a page for lay people, you would need to include content in wording they can apply to their life.
Add Internal Links to High-Quality Pages
As you try to improve your search engine ranking in relation to semantic searches, you have to realize the importance of internal linking. Internal links keep readers on your website. The key to these links is that you have to link to high-quality pages on your website. Try to avoid linking to pages that don’t offer valuable information. For example, it is easy to throw in a link to the Contact Us page; however, that page doesn’t provide any information that can help the customer. Instead, try linking to informative webpages that boost the value of the content on the current page.
Again using the law firm example – A webpage on child custody might touch on where the child will live. This section could include an internal link to a page that has to do with deciding who will retain the marital home. The same page on child custody might also touch on child support payments. That section could have a link to a page that explains how local laws determine who pays child support, as well as what other financial obligations the paying parent has for the child.
Include Graphics, Visual Aids, and Audio Enhancements
Graphics, visual aids, and audio enhancements help readers to better understand the content on your website. But, these elements do more than that. They also help to keep readers engaged and on your website longer. This helps with RankBrain placement, which is a big component in Google search result placement.
Once you have your website optimized for semantic searches, you will start to notice the benefits. The challenge for you now is to get to the point where the search engines and readers all have a high regard for your website. This is how you can boost your online presence, reputation, and success.
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- Agency Playbook: Semantic Search and Keyword Targeting in 2017 - March 9, 2017