It doesn’t matter how good you are as a writer or how valuable your content is to your audience—you’ll never get your message in front of many eyes (and the right ones) if your copy isn’t optimized for SEO rankings.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is responsible for driving traffic to your website. Whether you’re writing a blog, a homepage, or poems about a pet fish, SEO optimization will help you stand out in the crowded, ever-growing virtual world.
Traditionally, that meant filling your content with relevant keywords and keyword phrases that people seeking your content would use. A person searching for fish poetry or fish poems may type “fish poem” or “poems about fish” into Google’s search bar. On your page of fish poems, you would need to include those keywords if you wanted to capture that traffic. The strategy would notify Google that your website was the best place to send people for goldfish-themed sonnets.
It used to be fairly simple to optimize a website for SEO purposes, but the advent of the internet and virtual worlds has made it significantly more complicated. And Semantic SEO is the latest evidence of that.
Semantic SEO can revolutionize the way you approach creating content, which, in turn, can dramatically increase your search engine rankings. So, if you’ve discovered that your old SEO methods result in crickets, it might be time to change up the way you optimize.
What Is Semantic SEO?
Once companies and marketers learned traditional SEO techniques, they began doing an activity known as “keyword stuffing,” which is exactly what the name implies: stuffing as many relevant keywords into copy as possible to rank better on Google. Obviously, this practice resulted in a lot of low-quality content and Google recognized the problem.
Semantic SEO is a push to create content that is high-value and focused on quality, not quantity.
With Semantic SEO, bringing in online traffic is no longer about targeting specific keywords or phrases, but instead about understanding the context behind what those keywords and phrases mean.
Semantic SEO requires content creators to think broadly and creatively about meaning and value in content in addition to keywords. The more in-depth, lengthier, and valuable content the article provides, the greater its chances of creating traffic.
As opposed to concentrating on just one keyword phrase, like “the best laundry detergent,” you should include information on laundry detergent in its entirety. Simply put, answer any and all questions that your reader might have about laundry detergent:
- How to choose the right laundry detergent
- Cheapest laundry detergent
- How environmentally friendly is your laundry detergent
- Tips to choose the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin
That’s the general idea.
Google no longer searches a page for the most relevant keywords—it decides which content provides the most insight into those keywords.
These changes are not meant to increase work (or to make articles longer). The goal is to decrease digital clutter by reducing spam and inaccurate, misleading and unusable information online. Therefore, even though it will be a tedious process, most of us working in the virtual space can agree that Semantic SEO practices are ultimately beneficial.
How To Use Semantic SEO
Because Semantic SEO is incredibly detailed, many business owners hire a copywriting agency to do it for them. If you’re more of a DIY business owner, taking a copywriting course to transition into a copywriting career, or are just getting your feet wet in web copy altogether, you need to focus on two key things:
- Providing the reader with valuable information about a certain topic
- Understanding what exactly the reader wants to find when they are searching for a certain topic
The first key is easy to digest: give the reader valuable, helpful and relevant information. Don’t waste people’s time with nonsense.
The second key gets a little more complex because it requires what can sometimes seem like a mind reading exercise: target market research.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and others evaluate copy for Semantic SEO by analyzing copy from the perspective of the person searching. As well as looking for content that offers value, they customize the results by taking into consideration a person’s location, previous searches, language, etc. This means that every result page is even further personalized to the user who is searching.
The purpose of Semantic SEO is to enhance the user experience. It’s crucial that you understand who your users are-and what they are seeking-if you’re going to create more relevant content.
Understanding The User
If you want to optimize your content for Semantic SEO, you must understand the reason why people search for a specific keyword or keyword phrase. When you grasp that concept, you can figure out what else they might be interested in learning and include it in your piece.
Say someone uses a search engine to find the “best first car.” While the experience of purchasing a first car can be unique, it’s most likely a parent or guardian who is shopping for a teenager. With your content optimized according to this person’s interests, concerns, questions and fears, you can include additional information this person would find useful, such as:
- The cost of a first car
- An overview of the best safety features
- Getting your child ready for driving
- When to buy a first car for your child
- Safe cars for teenagers
- What to look for when buying a used car
- How to prepare for a drivers test
- First cars and boundaries
In addition to their original intention of searching for the best first car options, they now have even more knowledge that can help them make a strong decision. Aside from providing value for your reader (and impressing Google), including additional relevant topics will keep your users on your site longer, thus increasing the odds that they will browse other parts of your site.
If you want to incorporate this concept into your content, think about what else the user may want to know after they find the information they searched for?
The more you anticipate the user’s follow-up questions and answer them, the higher your ranking on Google will be.
The best way to answer the question is to brainstorm your own answers. You can also look within Google’s “People also ask” section to see if there are any other questions readers may find helpful. These additional questions are always available on search pages, and you can use them to flesh out your piece.
Best Semantic SEO Content Practices
In order to achieve the best results using Semantic SEO, let’s examine some strategies SEO and copywriting agencies use for optimizing content.
Changing your content strategy so that it only focuses on topically relevant content is the first step you should take before you begin writing new articles and blog posts. Rather than writing short blog posts that only answer a single question, try writing guides that cover everything you need to know.
It would be better to focus on “A Complete Guide To Starting A Paleo Diet” rather than “7 Tips For Starting A Paleo Diet.”
You will have to spend more time and effort creating content—but if they’re evergreen and constantly rank high, you will need to create content less. When you have that kind of high quality content, you can hold on to the #1 spot on Google search pages for a while.
When writing long-form guides, make sure you include as many aspects of the topic as possible that will be helpful and interesting to the reader. Therefore, creating an outline is crucial for this kind of content creation.
The posts are more like eBooks than articles or blogs, aiming to teach readers everything they need to know about a topic.
To increase visibility and rank higher with Google, include the most relevant follow-up queries in the topic outline as subheads (such as those under the “People also ask” section).
Another practice that has been rendered obsolete is to create multiple pages for varying variations of the same keyword phrase. Back in the day, if you wanted to target the best fertilizer, you would create a second page optimized for the phrase “best fertilizer,” and maybe even a few additional pages optimized for other variations of the phrase.
Even though this is no longer an option, you should use different variations throughout your long-form copy. As an example, you could include:
- best fertilizer
- Which fertilizers are the best
- Top fertilizer brands
- Fertilizers that work
- Best fertilizer 2021
In addition to preventing keyword stuffing (which Google now hates), it can also help you get traffic from people searching for the same thing in various variations.
The last thing you should do is make sure that your content is long. If you want to optimize for Semantic SEO, set some longer word count targets. The 500-word post won’t help you climb the rankings any more. In order to use Semantic SEO, it is best to write articles that are between 1,000 and 2,000 words long. Pieces of 4,000 to 5,000 words are also good to include in your overall content strategy.
To be successful in Semantic SEO, you must offer the reader as much value as possible.
Over the past decade, Liz has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to and mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.