The art of semantic search in 2021

By Liniar’s Simone Sangha.

In the past, I’ve spoken about search engine optimisation (SEO) and the importance of adapting your strategy regularly for this developing channel.

With algorithms popping up as frequently as monthly from Google, this won’t change in 2021. However, the way we search most certainly will change over the next 12 months. Future data predications suggest search will be shaped by how people search for things on the internet. While this sounds like a straightforward change, it’s rooted in something slightly more complicated: semantics.

Semantic search means search engines delving deeper into the contextual meaning of words, rather than finding literal matches of the words themselves. This is fundamentally as much about user experience as it is about SEO. Finding the meaning behind the keywords can help us better improve our online content and elevate the customer journey.

Data on the top phrases used in Google search results proved interesting, with questions rising high in the ranks of search terms. Search engines such as Google are now learning to interpret such search questions to increase relevant results.

When optimising for this search type, it will be beneficial to keep a few questions in mind: how and why your audience is searching for your content; and how your website can meet these demands.

Here are a few examples of areas I would focus on for semantic search optimisation

Answer the questions your target audience is asking. Creating blog posts and web pages surrounding the most popular topics are things search engines will reward you for. ‘How to colour your windows’ was an example of a common query we found at Liniar. We’ve therefore answered this in many places online including a blog post, a video, on various pages and on our FAQ page.

Structured data. This is something to hand over to either a development team or a technical marketer but will give you a quick win in terms of optimising for semantic search. Structured data helps bots online to find and understand your pages, so focusing on specific phrases within this will ensure the right people are seeing your business.

Topic optimisation rather than purely keyword optimisation. Include clusters of valuable content around high-level topics rather than purely focusing on single-word keywords. This topic cluster method focuses on writing for voice assistants and elements such as schema to ensure you’re tailoring content to your potential customers.

In 2021 marketers that truly understand their audience’s intent will achieve significantly better organic results than those who don’t. Producing relevant content and high-quality web pages should be the objective of most marketers in the future – and semantic search is the perfect place to start.

Bonus tip. The best way to measure your efforts in optimising semantic search will be through featured snippets on search which refer to the links that display under your web address, and other SERP (search engine results page) tools. I recommend using tools such as MOZ, SEMRush and Ahrefs – some of these even have free versions available