Semantic search is sort of a natural evolution of the search engines: from simple keywords and key phrases, the search algorithms begin to use the true relevance of your content in order to rank your website and individual webpages. According to the definition on Wikipedia
Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable data space, whether on the web or within a closed system to generate more relevant results.
According to another definition appearing on this blog post on Moz.com:
Semantic search is a search on a question or an action that produces meaningful results, even when the retrieved items contain none of the query terms, or the search involves no query text at all.
What difference does it make? It makes a very big difference. It means websites, webpages and blogs are ranked according to their importance, relevance, instead of simply for the language they use. Of course it also means assigning the task of what is important to you, to the search engine algorithms and this may pose problems in case the search engine algorithms decide what you want even if you don’t find it acceptable. Well, that’s another issue.
The important thing here is, if you want to get more qualified search traffic, aside from focusing on your primary and secondary keywords (because they still matter, maybe they won’t in a few years, but right now, they do) you should also concentrate on the overall relevancy and the authority of your content, as well as yourself.
Keyword-based optimization coupled with link building is prone to lots of manipulation and exploitation. It has filled the the search result pages with lots of unwanted clutter. This problem can be tackled by giving more relevance to the authority of the content vis-à-vis how other websites talk about it rather than link to it.
Coming back to how to use semantic search to improve your website traffic; the best way to go about it is, increase your presence, and not in a spammy way. Build up your expertise and let it manifest through your writing and interactions. Write as much as you can on your website and your blog, incorporate a schedule that allows you to interact meaningfully on prominent social networking websites. You don’t have to be everywhere. Just select the right platform, stick to it, and build your audience.
How semantic search and your influence are interrelated
As the definitions presented above indicate, it is not about how many times and where you use your primary and secondary keywords, it is about the inherent meaning of your content. How can that meaning be defined? To an extent, it is defined by what you write. But it is also defined by how the others interpret it. Now, the others won’t be able to interpret it if they don’t know about it. Even if somehow they know about it, they won’t interpret it, if they don’t consider it worth their while. So semantic search optimization includes:
- Creating high-quality content
- Creating high-quality content on an ongoing basis
- Increasing your visibility
- Establishing your authority
- Maintaining an atmosphere that engages people and encourages them to talk about your content.