Search technology is constantly evolving. Each day, Google’s algorithms become a little bit better at doing their job. We don’t even notice the subtle changes, but every time we run a search, the results we get back improve.
One of the biggest changes in search over the last few years, and greatly responsible for the improving results we see, is the growth of semantic search. Semantic search, and by extension, semantic SEO, involves working with an understanding of broader topics and concepts rather than specific keywords or phrases. See: What is Semantic SEO and Why Should Law Firms Care?
What Is Semantic Search?
Google has developed the ability to go beyond matching keywords between searches and web pages. The algorithms that build search results today are capable of looking at the meaning behind words, phrases, and questions and delivering relevant results that aren’t just based on the keywords appearing within pages.
For example, if someone searches for “apple,” are they looking for information about fruit or about the technology company? When someone asks a question about tablets, are they talking about tablet computers or tablets like medications that dissolve in water? Semantic search tries to determine the real meaning behind a query and return the correct results.
Looking at it another way, let’s say someone types in a search containing the keyword “puppies.” In the past, search engines would look for pages that had a certain concentration of the word “puppies” and assume these pages had the most relevant information. Today, semantic search results can determine that pages containing words and phrases like dogs, baby dogs, young canine, and small pets may also have results that are relevant to puppies even if the word doesn’t appear all over the page.
What Is Semantic SEO?
Semantic SEO involves tailoring content more toward answering questions about a topic than targeting specific keywords, which are becoming a smaller part of the big picture. Basically, in order to rank well for certain terms, your content needs to provide real information — written for human consumption, not search engines — about those terms rather than simply containing a certain number of keywords or phrases in strategic places.
Implementing Semantic SEO
The key to semantic SEO is to break out of the single keyword line of thought and think more about an entire topic. For example, if you want to obtain a good ranking for a term like criminal law, you should leave behind the idea of creating a page focused on the term “criminal law” and think more about creating a page that explains the entire topic along with it’s related keywords and phrases. You could include areas such as:
- What a criminal lawyer does
- Who needs a criminal lawyer
- An outline of the process of a criminal court case
- Do you need a criminal defense attorney?
- What to do when arrested for drug possession
- Legal help for domestic violence
- Is cyberbullying a crime?
A great way to come up with these extra terms and topics to include on your pages is to simply run a Google search for your initial search term. On the bottom of every Google search result page you’ll see a list of related searches. These searches are topics that Google considers relevant to the search term. They would make an excellent addition to your content. You can find even more combinations using search keyword tools like Keyword.io.
You don’t need to write a book-length web page explaining every last detail, but a long-form, well written guide that gives a layman a basic understanding of all the sub-topics is bound to rank very high in search results for many of the included keywords.
It might seem somewhat complicated at first, but if you think about it, there’s no more work involved than what you’re already doing with “standard” SEO. The difference is that instead of picking out keywords and building separate pages for each one, you’re picking out keywords that go together and consolidating related pages and information.
In the end, semantic SEO actually makes it easier for you to create truly valuable content and easier for your audience to find and consume it. If your law firm has been having trouble achieving and maintaining good SEO results, the implementation of semantic SEO techniques could be just the thing to turn your results around.