The introduction of Google Hummingbird in September 2013 effectively replaced keyword search with semantic text. Judging by results we are getting in search engines, it appears online businesses have not figured out how to optimise a page with semantic text.
Traditional use of keywords may have been replaced, but they are not totally redundant. They have evolved.
You are already probably aware, the old algorithms searched for queries using specific keywords. But keywords can be too general. The intention with semantic text is so search engines can drill down into the specific request of the search query.
What is the future for keywords?
Keywords are by no mean redundant, but they should be used in a slightly different way – to mirror information end-users looking for. Search engines – we hope – will then do the rest.
The use of keywords is much simpler now. In fact, there should be no real difference to how you were using them before providing you were using longtail keyword and publishing quality content.
Keywords should fit naturally into your content, but more importantly the content should focused on the subject you are talking about. The idea behind semantic search is to encourage web owners to publish content that offers value to readers.
Yet many online businesses are centering their content marketing campaign around keywords. As a result, the internet is flooded with regurgitated content that repeat the same messages.
How does semantic search work?
The Hummingbird algorithm recognises the context of content. For example, if you are searching for information about a subject that is fairly broad, keywords will throw up a wide range of search results. Semantic search, in theory at least, narrows search results down so that the results are more relevant to your query.
As a researcher in a broad range of subjects for our clients, it is apparent that businesses are not taking advantage of semantic search. In some areas, results have got worse rather than better.
The new algorithm focuses on answering the question typed in by the end user and it thinks will answer the end-users question. The problem is, search engines do not know the answer to the question if it can’t match the query.
This is not necessarily the fault of content writers who do not know how the new algorithms work. They may still be producing good quality content, but their site is not found because semantic search is still having to use keywords.
How can marketers produce content for semantic search?
Marketers should be asking questions customers are most likely to ask and the question in the content. Q&A or FAQ’s solve this problem. You can also use a question as a sub-heading in an article as we have done here.
You may also want to think about the type of blog content you are publishing. Google is looking for content that deals with specific answers related to the question rather than top 10 lists which often cover the same points.
Outbound links to high authority sites inform Google that you are recommended sites that provide good quality information, products and services – so be careful who you link to.
Linking to top ranking sites with a good trust authority is also given kudos by searching engines and they will value you as a reliable “influencer” and thus award you with a higher rank.
Keywords may not be as important as they once were, but they should not be discarded. But rather than spending weeks and months of experimenting and testing them until you found the right balance, semantic search should make life less stressful and frustrating for online marketers.
Move It Marketing SEO Services
Move It Marketing are a boutique digital marketing agency with a love for organic search (and in particular technical SEO). We don’t dilute our efforts by working with a large number of clients, and provide a granular service with attention to detail. If you have experienced problems with SEO on your site, get in touch and we will take a look with a view to providing you with an initial mini SEO audit free of charge.