How Semantic Search Impacts SEO

Semantic search is a data retrieval process utilized by search engines to return the most relevant search results. It concentrates on the meaning behind search queries rather than traditional keyword matching. The terminology comes from a branch of linguistics called semantics, which is involved with the study of meaning. Here are some things to know about how semantic search impacts SEO and how you keep up with your choices of keywords:

Why is semantic search important?

Although there are countless variables at play, semantic search principles, why it’s needed, and how it’s influenced are easy to comprehend.

  • Users don’t always use the same language as the desired content
  • Many searches are accidentally ambiguous
  • The need to recognize lexical hierarchy and entity relationships
  • The need to match personal interests and what’s trendy

Users often don’t utilize the same language as the desired content

Sometimes you don’t even know how to describe a search query properly. Do you ever hear a song that you don’t know the name of and start Googling random lyrics until you finally find it? You end up typing in random words you hear in the song. To make it even more complex, compare what you type into Google with what you say to Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. Keywords now have to become conversations. There are just so many ways to communicate the same idea, and search engines need to deal with them. They need to have the ability to match the content in their index with your search query based on the meaning of both.

Many searches are unintentionally ambiguous

Around 40% of English words are polysemous, which means they have two or more meanings. It’s arguably the most significant hurdle that semantic search is trying to solve. As an example, the keyword “python” has over half a million searches each month in the United States. Some people search “python”, meaning the programming language. But people that aren’t a part of the tech industry would probably expect the actual snake. The issue here is that words seldom have a definitive meaning without context. On top of the polysemous terms, you have many nouns that can also be adjectives, verbs, or both. Context means everything when it comes to semantics.

Which Google technologies have a role in the function of semantic search?

Google constantly pushes out algorithm updates and technologies that further improve its abilities to learn the natural language and search intent.

There are four essential milestones that make the semantic search what it is in 2020:

  • Knowledge Graph
  • Hummingbird
  • RankBrain
  • BERT

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