Semantic search! We've talked about how it's changing the way that search engines operate by interpreting user intent – but now we'd like to offer several strategies that can target semantic search more effectively. Google's algorithm is busy studying the real meaning behind every user search, and you can tap into that process with the right content and SEO.
1. All Meat, No Potatoes
Semantic searching is primarily concerned with finding out exactly what an internet user wants, no matter what words they – or you – use. It's trying to cut out all the problems with language interpretation and move right on to accurate results. You can help out (and convince the search engine you're an expert) by creating rich content that packs a huge punch. In other words, make sure your content is mostly meat: Real answers, facts, data, product information, instructions, explanations, walkthroughs – content that people can actually use. Go low on the fluff and avoid empty sentences. Instead, put yourself in the place of a buyer searching for information and consider what content they would skip over in their search. Get rid of everything that doesn't meet a need.
2. Answer, Answer, Answer – But Do It Naturally
Semantic search loves direct answers. That's what it's all about. But it doesn't actually answer questions directly – instead, it tries to find reliable sources that have answered similar questions in the past and uses machine learning to consider what people who ask those questions want. It sounds complicated, we know, but here's the important part: The more questions you answer, the better you'll do in semantic search rankings. But before you start making every article an FAQ, keep in mind that you need to answer questions naturally, the way that you would in a normal conversation with your clients.
3. Acquire Expertise (From Anywhere)
Expert content requires experts: That's not always easy. So start tapping into expert sources and experienced workers within your company now, so that they can start providing data or stories that in turn feed content. We've written a lot about influencer marketing in the past, and this is another area where it can shine. If you want your content to rise above the crowd and appeal to semantic search parameters, you also need to bring in guest bloggers and influencers who can not only increase traffic, but also increase the professional answers and perspectives you can provide.
4. Keep On Going Local
Semantic searching is frequently local, because that's how a lot of people naturally search. There's a reason Google keeps on increasing the local results it displays in SERPs – these are the answers that people want. They're interested in local supplies, nearby attractions, and quick responses. That's why we're such big fans of local SEO work. It synergizes perfectly with semantic searching, while providing multiple other benefits when it comes to brand recognition and page ranking. 2017 will be the year to focus even more on local information throughout your content.
5. Move Outside of Your Company While Staying in Your Industry
By now, some of you may be thinking, "That's great, but we've already used up all the answers, tips, and expertise we've got. We put that content out there. What are we supposed to do now, just repeat ourselves? Is that going to impress semantic search engines?"
Repeating yourself sometimes – especially when you've got new information or updates to add – can be useful, yes. But in these cases we suggest moving outside of your comfort zone. You don't need to sell products or work in a particular field to talk about it! Take a look around your industry for areas that you don't necessarily specialize in, but certainly have something to say about. These areas are rich fields for new content that also allow you to impress semantic search with the breadth of your knowledge. As you get ready for 2017, consider branching out into new areas of information, even if your business model is staying the same.