What is Semantic Search?

It’s easy for us to think of Google as a sentient entity—almost as a person. We talk about how smart Google is. We praise Google for helping us. We view Google as a trusted friend. It can be difficult for us to remember that, for as smart and as helpful as Google is, it’s not actually a person, but a series of algorithms. When we talk about Google Search, we are essentially talking about a computer program, albeit an incredibly complex one.

Because Google is a set of algorithms, one of its struggles has always been tapping into conversational speech and language. The search engineers at Google are constantly trying to adapt the algorithms so that they better comprehend the nuances of human speech—the ways in which people actually voice their search queries. There are many ways in which Google has sought to become more conversational, and the one we’re going to talk about today is called semantic search.

Understanding Semantic Search

When we’re discussing language, the word semantics refers to the way words interrelate to one another, logically. Semantic search, then, is all about trying to determine not just the words that the search engine user is inputting, but the intention behind them: What is he or she really asking for? What does he or she truly want to know?

Ideally, then, semantic search will provide the user with more personalized results that truly and specifically match the kind of data that he or she was looking for. It accomplishes this through algorithms that understand synonyms, concept matching, and the natural rhythms of everyday language.

The Implications of Semantic Search

In other words, when you use a search engine like Google, semantic search ensures that you’re getting the information you really want. If you type Tom Hanks into Google’s search bar, Google’s algorithms understand your intent—that you’re likely looking for information on the actor and on his films, not on some other Tom Hanks. Moreover, semantic search allows Google’s algorithms to take a question—what is the name of the drummer on The Tonight Show, for example—and extract the answer you’re looking for (Questlove!), rather than getting too bogged down in the verbiage you used.

Semantic Search and SEO

The question for SEOs, then, is simply this: How do you ensure that your content is picked up by Google’s semantic search algorithms? The answer is actually fairly simple. Remember that semantic search is all about providing the user with an answer to the question posed. So, if you want your content to be favored, you have to think about who might be searching for it—and ensure that the content you’re offering conveys real value to that user.

In other words, the solution is targeted content that answers user questions—but how do you make that happen? That’s where we come in. We would love to assist you in designing content that’s made for semantic search reception. Learn more by contacting Sefati Consulting Group today.



Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.