Semantic Search

“Hummingbird and RankBrain forever changed the way we optimise our website’s content for search engines. Ideally, you will need to learn how to read your targeted audience’s minds.”

What is Semantic Search?

It’s important to have a page dedicated to Semantic Search and explain fundamentally what it is and how your business and website can benefit from it.

What does semantic mean?
The word semantic means “relating to meaning in language (word, phrase or text) or logic. Therefore, semantics is the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.
So what is Semantic Search / SEO Strategy?

Wikipedia (as so does Google) define semantic search as below:

Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results.

And the definition of Techopedia:

Semantic search is a data searching technique in a which a search query aims to not only find keywords, but to determine the intent and contextual meaning of the words a person is using for search.

There are two very important and interwoven concepts within semantic search and these are intent and context with the end goal of presenting results with greater relevance.

Intent (User Intention), which comes from the user, explicitly states what he or she is looking for. And context could be understood as everything that surrounds a search and makes this go in either direction, i.e., what gives it meaning. Thus, by understanding and connecting intention and context, search engines are able to understand the different queries, both what motivates and what is expected of them.

Is SEO Strategy New?

Not really! Latent Semantic Indexing is an old mathematical

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition (SVD) to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text. –Wikipedia

Put simply, latent semantic indexing allows the algorithm to differentiate the meaning of language used within a document. –Vin D’Eletto, WordAgents.com

Google’s introduction of the Hummingbird Algorithm in 2013 was  the result of the assorted semantic search building blocks falling into place and according to Google search chief Amit Singhal “the first major update of its type since 2001.”

Hummingbird considers each word but also how each word makes up the entirety of the query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

“Simply put, it’s not just about keywords nowadays but since the hummingbird update Google is focusing more on meaningful signals (semantics).”

The word apple with no context or knowledge of user intent is a gamble guess between the fruit or the company behind the iPhone, MacBook etc. Hummingbird forced an SEO Consultant to broaden their approach and adopt a more holistic strategy with optimisation.

For example, if a business establishes their brand and website as an online authority, the go-to source of useful, credible, fresh content they could rank for a range of search terms not just one specific keyword. It’s not just about using synonyms which tends to be bit of a misconception with semantic SEO. Synonyms are useful but alone do not set the proper context for a document / web page, there must be related keywords, entities and concepts should be present within the text.

What is the role of a Semantic Search Consultant?

It is the job of a SEO Strategy Consultant to come into your business and understand how your product / service / website benefits potential or reoccurring visitors. It’s important to assess how currently SEO is utilised within the business and devise a strategy that will extend current best SEO practices to a wider, holistic overall Semantic Search Strategy.