Google is always working to give users the best results. Because search is changing, the way that Google is ranking websites is changing, and therefore the way that companies build links and optimize websites is changing. This does not necessarily mean that your other, past optimization and link building tactics are useless, but it does mean that any small businesses looking to improve or keep an organic ranking has some work to do. The biggest change being discussed today is semantic SEO, and it has a lot to do with links.
What Is Semantic Search?
Semantic SEO is a response to the way that search is changing—more conversational. Today people will type questions into a search bar almost as if it is a conversation. Looking at this idea in terms of local search is probably the easiest example. Consider the following search query and how Google would rank results before and after their semantic search initiatives:
“Where can I find a Mexican restaurant with great fajitas near my house?”
Before: Google used to put the biggest focus on keywords found in a search query. In the example above, search results would pull up things like “how to make fajitas” or “top Mexican restaurants that serve fajitas” because these entries use those keywords. However, based on the search, these entries would not give the user what they were really trying to find.
After: First, semantics will pick up on phrases like “near my house” and the search engine will be able to determine that location is probably more important than a keyword like “fajitas,” which will of course generate more accurate results. Aside from only location factors, semantics are essentially related words/phrases as opposed to exact-match keywords. With this in mind, Google would add results for “taco shops” as opposed to only “Mexican restaurants.”
Take another example from Search Engine Journal that is a little bit more cut and dry: Even if you were to just type one words into Google, say “cars” for example, the new semantic way of searching would pull up results that said “automobiles” even if that word wasn’t part of the user’s search. It’s implied that those are synonyms.
How Businesses Can React: What This Means for Your Link Building Strategy
Because Google has made these types of changes, companies need to react and alter some of the ways they’ve built links in the past. Below are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be successful and adopt a semantic SEO strategy:
- More Natural Anchor Text. Anchor text keywords are not going to be as important. Google is starting to look at the words around your anchor text, so it’s time to start making those links look more natural. Consider the following:
- Similar Words. Semantics means similar words, so when you’re writing a piece of content you want to make sure that you’re considering supporting or modifying terms of the keyword you have in mind. These words will now be considered by the Google bots, so try using these as anchor text every once and a while if a keyword anchor text is necessary (in other words, if your link isn’t structured like the one above).
- Location, Location, Location. Of course, location is key so be sure that your business is listed on every local outlet possible. You can visit Search Engine Watch to learn more about how to get listed and get started with the locals.
To reiterate, you can still continue to do what you’re doing in terms of link building. Guest posting in order to earn links is still a great idea, and sometimes anchor text and keyword research is going to be appropriate. Remember to always keep your linking natural. Semantic SEO should help improve the web for users, but it should also help companies naturally earn those higher rankings. It’s something to keep in mind and discuss with your SEO or marketing team, but it doesn’t have to take over.
Have you dabbled in semantic SEO yet? What have you found to be effective and what have you found to be the most difficult part about this new approach? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Razvan Girmacea is the CEO & Founder of Monitor Backlinks Ltd., a friendly link management tool, he successfully raised investment for his startup from SOSventures. With a developer background and passionate about entrepreneurship, he helps non-tech bloggers fix their blogs. Follow Razvan on Google+ to learn more.