Skip to main content

From the late 1990s to the mid-1990s, keyword stuffing was one of the most effective tactics used by SEOs. This tactic involved picking a keyword, then filling the entire page with it. At the time, Google’s algorithm was not as developed, so these pages quickly topped the search results.

Fortunately, especially for search engine users, Google’s algorithms are no longer so easily manipulated. Whereas before it was mainly about the keywords, now it is mainly about the context in which these words appear. This form of search is also called semantic search. This article explains exactly what semantic search is and how Brthrs capitalizes on the ever-changing algorithm of search engines.

What exactly is semantic search?

Semantic search is when a search engine, such as Google, searches not just keywords, but rather the context of these keywords and the relationship between them. This allows a search engine to determine the topic of a Web site much more accurately than before.

Thus, not only is the requested word itself looked at, but the entire sentence, paragraph or page are analyzed by the search engine. This way, the search engine better links a query to the correct answer. This is one of the ways Google wants to make things easier for search engine users.

How does semantic search work?

Google’s algorithms are constantly being updated. Over the years, the search engine has built up a gigantic database of combinations of words, phrases, synonyms and contexts. This allows words that have multiple meanings, homonyms, to be read correctly by the search engine. For example, with the word “poor,” Google knows whether it is talking about the body part or the opposite of rich.

The name of this technology is “entity extraction. Besides the fact that with semantic search, words and pieces of text can be better understood by Google, the search engine can also provide broader answers. A good example is what is displayed when searching for, say, a famous person. Below is the search result for “Steve Jobs.

Of course, directly below the search bar is a list of the most relevant websites related to Steve Jobs. In recent years, however, Google has started to answer more and more searches in the SERP, Search Engine Result Page. For example, you can read right here, what Steve’s full name was, the religion he belonged to, the cause of death, date of birth, family members and much more information.

Google can show this information because of semantic search. This allows the search engine to pick up key points from a text to display in search results. Today, more than 50% of searches in search results are answered by Google. As a result, a lot of websites miss out on clicks and thus ad revenue or leads.

Google’s BERT update

As mentioned earlier, Google is nonstop improving the algorithms that determine search results. This happens mostly through smaller updates, however, the biggest updates have the most impact. In late October 2020, Google launched one such improvement to its algorithm, the BERT update. This update, which was the largest in the last five years, focused on improving semantic search.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Google wants to use the BERT update to provide even better search results for users. According to the company, about 15% of searches are completely new, a search never done before. Thus, to answer these new search terms as correctly as possible, context is considered.

Semantic search improved as Google began using Natural Language Processing. This, according to the company, makes the context of a search even more central. It is clear that Google sees the value of semantic search, and will invest even more in it in the coming years. Therefore, it is important for Web site administrators to respond accordingly.

How do you optimize for semantic search?

The most important thing to maintain while creating content for semantic search is that what works well for users also works well for Google. The two rules of thumb here are a clear structure and well-described content of the keyword you want to be found on.

Brthrs does this, for example, by providing structure in the HTML of pages, by naming the different parts of a text. For example, there are several semantic HTML5 elements that are used to provide structure.

Another way is to think from the reader’s point of view. What exactly does the reader want an answer to? What other questions might arise from reading the content? What other topics, synonyms, or keywords are of interest? Including them increases the relevance of the content.

Want to learn more about semantic search and the content Brthrs develops? Get in touch to make an impact together with web projects that are easily found by the target audience.

Skip to content