Semantic SEO: An On-page SEO Strategy

One of the most important marketing tactics in the online space is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. And, this includes both SEO strategy and SEO tactics.

SEO is a digital marketing process that involves improving your website to make it more findable in search engines. Essentially, if done well, SEO helps your website rank on page one of Google without having to pay for ads.

SEO is essential because today’s tech-savvy consumer will often perform their own online research to learn more about a product or service. In fact, at least, 49% of people use Google to discover a new brand.

Optimising your website for search ensures your brand can be found on Google organically and introduces potential customers to your product or service.

SEO is very much a science as it is an art. There are fundamental principles, strategies and techniques that must be employed, covering different aspects of SEO such as Technical SEO, On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.

On-page SEO Strategy

In this post, we are going to focus on one aspect of on-page SEO. On-page SEO is optimisation that takes place on your website.

“On-page” includes both the content and the underlying coding structure (what is referred to as Technical SEO).

For on-page SEO content, Google favours content that is well-written, in natural language and contains useful information.

On-page content SEO has changed greatly over the past 10 years. For example, one previous popular technique was keyword stuffing. This consisted of repeating the same keyword multiple times throughout the content.

However, advances in search technology, such as Google’s BERT, have rendered keyword stuffing an obsolete tactic.

BERT is short for a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. This technology enables anyone to train their own state-of-the-art question answering system.

Essentially, BERT is a technique for natural language processing pre-training that helps Google understand words within the context of their surrounding words. Google has said that BERT helps Google Search better understand the intent of a search query.

“This breakthrough was the result of Google research on transformers: models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence rather than one-by-one in order. BERT models can, therefore, consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.” ~ Google blog

These AI and machine learning advances in search technology mean marketers require new approaches to SEO.

Semantic SEO STRATEGY

One tactic that will work exceptionally well is Semantic SEO.

Semantic SEO is a method that uses related words, phrases and other complex but natural language structures related to your main keyword to rank your content.

Essentially, semantic SEO is about writing content like a human, for humans, instead of a search engine bot.

Making your written English language flow more natural, coupled with rich content crafted around your target keyword or topic, will ensure you have a much better shot at ranking higher on Google.

TACTICS TO IMPROVE SEMANTIC SEO

Focus on the Topic Instead of Specific Keywords

Today’s search engines connect people to topics related to their query. Typically, a keyword or keyphrase (a string of keywords) is targeted to rank content for a particular topic.

However, in semantic SEO, you must do more than just repeat your keywords to give more information and context about a topic to search engines. Your writing should work to emphasise the topic rather than just keywords.

For example, if you write about outdoor sports, you should include relevant sub-topics such as the weather, suitable sports attire for outdoors, outdoor sports activity venues and different types of outdoor sports because these are semantically related topics.

Write Relevant Content That Adds Value to Your Readers

People are more likely to be interested in what you have to say when it answers their question.

The more your readers enjoy your content, the more engaged they will feel and come back for more. This also helps to increase traffic flow to your website or blog, which is a SEO-ranking signal.

Here are two easy ways to determine what content people are interested in.

The first way is to see what Google recommends under “people also ask”.

These are, essentially, the most common questions related to the words you keyed in that users search for. The recommended queries generated are based on Google’s big data gathered from millions of searches over time.

Key in a possible topic that you think your target audience will be interested in the search bar. Maybe you want to write about the “sports venues in Singapore”.

As you can see from the screenshot above, Google has recommended several commonly asked questions. You can “Google” these recommended topics and see what other results Google offers.

Another way to look for possible topics is to perform a search for a topic and scroll down the page.

Sometimes, if there is enough search volume for a topic or keyword, Google will display several commonly asked questions in the middle of the page.

You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page to look at the “related searches” that Google recommends. These should give you some ideas to write relevant content that people are actively searching for.

Always Make Content for Humans, Not Search Engines

Your writing should always be scored for readers rather than search engines’ bots. After all, the point of your content is to share information with people, so they can make informed decisions.

Google’s AI is now intelligent enough to read like a human, and it, also, assesses content based on its readability.

One thing to remember as a general principle of SEO is that Google’s primary goal is to give its users the best user experience. That means providing the best quality matches to their query.

Besides providing answers that users are looking for, Google also wants to ensure it is providing answers that have value and are well-presented.  This includes content that is well-written so that it is easily interpreted and understood by users.

As such, you should write in a natural way for real people and not for search engines. People are more likely to consume your content and learn more (by clicking through to other pages in your site) if your language is natural and easy to understand. The more of your content they consume, the stronger the signal it sends to Google that your content is valuable and should be ranked high.

If you need professional help with SEO strategy and implementation, Evolve & Adapt has over 15 years of SEO experience, and our team is highly skilled in all aspects of SEO. We provide SEO services for consulting clients as part of a fully scoped strategic marketing project. Contact us if you would like to schedule a call.

J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.

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