Any online business owner knows that SEO is now an integral and vital part of any business website if they have any hope at all of being successful. SEO has been in existence for some time now, but never before has it been used to enhance user experience.
The Birth of Algorithm Updates
In early 2000, Google—the search engine titan—made some very significant changes in their search ranking algorithm that made SEO more about improving user search experience, rather than just plain improving a website’s search ranking in Google.
The objective was to provide users with quick and accurate responses to online queries regardless of how the queries are presented.
Before this algorithm change, users end up being frustrated at their search experience. The old SEO practice relies heavily on an assortment of keywords that serve only one purpose—to boost a website’s rankings.
Webmasters and SEO implementers cram every possible target keywords they can get their hands on in a page and with its web design with the object of generating “hits” for that particular page and hence boosting its rankings. The result is a disappointing search experience for the user who more often than not ends up with a totally irrelevant site or a very poorly made one.
In effect, webmasters and SEO implementers were making sites for Google instead of the intended users. Google realized this mistake in its ranking algorithm and proceeded to make the necessary changes and went from literal to semantic.
In 2002, Google started using the beginnings of a series of updates in its ranking algorithm that would see to it that webmasters won’t be able to make excessive use of the old techniques like keyword stuffing and link baiting.
Instead, they will be forced to create relevant content for their respective sites in order to raise their rankings. This trend of creating quality and relevant content continued on to 2013 when Google launched its Hummingbird algorithm update.
This Hummingbird update changed the way Google handled its ranking chores. Instead of focusing on exact words and phrases, Google started concentrating on the intent of the user for the particular query.
Results to searches now were based on the idea of the search query with Google matching it with websites having similar ideas. Users no longer have to type queries that have to match the exact phrase or word of what they are looking for.
This update to Hummingbird was the result of Google’s recognition of how today’s generation of users neither have the time and patience to type long, carefully arranged search strings just to get what they want. They can type in their queries in any format they are comfortable with and still get the results they need, fast.
The powerhouse behind this amazing Hummingbird update is RankBrain. It is artificial intelligence at its best, and it allows Google to accurately interpret the idea behind any user search or query and determines its intent. This concept of intent is the foundation of Google’s “semantic search”.
The Rise of Voice to Text
But the good stuff doesn’t stop there. The latest technological advancement has allowed the semantic search to transcend text-only searches and cross over to the realm of speech.
With voice-to-text technology becoming a reality especially on smartphones equipped with this function, users can just utter a keyword or search phrase into the Google search bar on their device, and the Google platform transforms the spoken words to typed text.
Users now are able to make searches or queries in more intricate and sophisticated ways. Terms and phrases that are normally reserved for speech are being used more and more.
People tend to speak differently from how they type, and Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update has improved the web users’ experience from a rigid artificial process to a more flexible semantic one.
The Benefits of Semantic Search
So what benefits have been gained from semantic search SEO?
1. More Intuitive and Easier Search Results
Searches are now more than ever easier and more intuitive. All the transformations that have been happening in the background changed the user search experience for the better. Web users are now accustomed to a faster more intuitive search experience that yield more accurate results.
The days of having to try different search formats just to get the correct results are long gone. SEOs that use keywords and phrases that are out of place and irrelevant have also seized to exist.
Semantic search has steered the focus from specific keywords or phrases to the intent and idea behind the search. SEOs were forced to rethink their strategy to accommodate this change.
2. Better Content
Webmasters were forced to come up with better content for their sites, not just elaborate, eye-catching web design. With the focus shifting from specific keywords to the intent of a search, webmasters have no choice but to come up with better content that is more relevant and useful to the user.
Rather than just cramming keyword upon keyword and phrases upon phrases into a site no matter how irrelevant and out of place they may be, webmasters are now bound to research their material more to be able to come up with the high-quality, catchy, and understandable content that will satisfy Google and web users alike.
3. Higher-Quality Results
Better quality results are achieved almost instantaneously. With semantic search SEO, results pages come back filled with information relevant to the original query.
This is made possible with the use of “rich answers”. These answers are accumulated by Google and presented in the search results pages or SERPs.
The way they are presented is such that web users are given a glimpse of the relevance of a page’s content through snippets, charts, maps, and tables. This way, a web user does not have to click on a URL to see the contents of a particular site.
In effect, the answer to their query appears almost instantaneously, and web users are treated to a very good search experience.
4. Optimised User Value
Better user value is provided. With semantic search SEO, providing better value for web users is the ultimate goal.
This means that SEO implementers must work harder at creating a site that will be more useful to the web user. It is not enough anymore to be able to come up with the specific keywords that users might use, but how these users are actually asking their questions.
And since specific keywords are no longer the focus, SEOers are better off creating pages with better content that will add value to a wider audience base.
5. Less Keyword Emphasis
Keywords are no longer the focus. Although less emphasis is being put on specific keywords in semantic SEO, some research is still necessary to determine the popularity of specific keywords.
Using these keywords, however, should not be the end game to the SEO strategy. Rather, let it serve as a guide to generate the high-quality and relevant content that is sought-after by the web user.
6. Content Flexibility
SEO content is more flexible with semantic search SEO. With the drive to move away from exact keyword search matches, SEOs are offered more flexibility in creating content. Allowing different word combinations, phrases, and even synonyms to keywords provide an avenue for more creativity, uniqueness, and usefulness in content.
With all these benefits from SEO semantic search, content writers are no longer limited to creating content that only serves to drive specific keywords or purely focusing web design. Rather, they are forced to write content that provides real value and overall better browsing experience to the web user.