When you want your articles to appear at the top of Google’s search results there’s only one way: you need to think like Google; or rather you need to understand the Google algorithm and approach to rankings. It is not so much that the good old SEO methods have become totally obsolete, they almost have; cramming keywords into titles and slugs into WordPress posts is definitely not the way to your increase your ranking these days. You now need to structure your site and write content for the search engine’s Semantic Algorithms and Semantic Search.
So what exactly is Semantic Search?
It is the latest approach, designed to turn Google from an index-based model into a predictive one. In other words, the company doesn’t want to simply find the words you just typed into its search box and match them to websites anymore. It now wants to find what you intended to know. There is a dramatic shift in approach, one perfectly illustrated by the new knowledge graphs for example.
You can try it yourself: typing ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Birthday’ into Google will not only reveal the standard list of websites containing the requested information, but first and foremost a box containing the date in clear writing. (April 15, 1452, in case you’re wondering.) This is the perfect demonstration of Google’s understanding of what you meant to search for. The engine is clever enough to know you were looking for a date rather than the word ‘birthday’. It also guesses you are likely interested in learning more details about Leonardo Da Vinci through a short biography, picture or info on the period during which he lived and died.
Semantic Search not only manages to pull information about people, but also about ideas and concepts. Google is now becoming increasingly accurate in looking for synonyms and answering questions such as ‘How do I fix my bike’s light’ or ‘How do I bake gluten-free cakes.’ Once again, the top websites might not necessarily contain the full search string, but they will definitely give you some of the best answers to the questions.
So what does it all mean for your own website content? Well, there are a few rules, tips and tricks you can implement to please Google’s bots with your copy.
Answer the questions your visitors might have
Rather than have a dry wall of information try to imagine what visitors to your site might want to find. Don’t just write ‘Napo Bros: Neapolitan Pizza, open every evening’. Imagine a little FAQ in which you answer the following questions: what kind of produce do I offer? What days of the week am I available? Do I offer delivery, if so, how far? Then turn all this information into a few paragraphs of text. Thinking about what your visitors are looking for is the best way to make sure they like what they find.
Stop obsessing over keywords
Once you’ve decided on the keywords you want your text to contain, don’t worry about every adjective, permutation or variation you can write based on these words. Think instead about synonyms that might not have been as fully exploited by other article writers, then use these synonyms throughout your text. Have seed keyword themes running through your site, and think about the categories your site falls under. A good place to go to start understanding themes is the Dmoz directory. Alchemy.api is another really useful tool.
Google will understand that those looking for ‘Cheap car mechanic will also want results for ‘Cheap auto mechanic’. You don’t need a page for each word.
Match your tone to your target audience
It’s common sense- if you are hoping to provide professional advice then write it professionally. If you are writing about entertainment, write it in a fun, engaging way. Not only is it good practice, but it will also help you develop ideas to get your visitors more engaged. You are then more likely to hit upon the right semantic themes if you are assuming the correct voice.
In conclusion, you need to think like Google to understand how it sees your content. Google is trying to rank content based on what your audience wants. You can pretty much do some theme, seed and keyword research and then forget Google- write for your target audience. Get inside their heads and you are going to have success with the new world of semantic search.