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10/18/2017

Evidence of Semantic Search in SERPs

Evidence of semantic searchI’ve finally seen evidence of semantic search in the the search results.  I was doing some SEO research on the keywords, “How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs”.

I conducted a search for “how to get rid of bed bugs” and got the usual list of search results. One of Google’s great features is highlighting the keyword you searched in the snippets that accompany each search result as seen in the image below.

how to get rid of bed bugs

 

 

Google has highlighted  Get Rid of Bed Bugs in both the title and the description.  Google is essentially saying you searched for “how to get rid of bed bugs” and look, here are those exact keywords.  This is nothing new.

However, as a scrolled down the list I saw something very interesting.  I saw the listing below.

how to kill bed bugs

 

 

 

The relevant keywords are highlighted, but they are not my exact keywords.  I searched for “how to get rid of bed bugs” but the keywords that are now highlighted in the title and excerpt are “how to kill bed bugs”.  This is new.  I haven’t seen anything like this before.

The semantic element of Google search was able to equate “getting rid of bed bugs” to “killing bed bugs”.  Google knew that if I was interested in getting rid of bed bugs I might be interested in killing bed bugs.

This is one step closer to the goals of semantic search.  To be able to search the way we actually talk and get valid search results.  Some people might approach their problem with bed bugs by thinking “how do I get rid of them” whereas other people might think, “how do I kill them”.

However, it is important to note that this is only the beginning and semantic search still has a considerable distance to go. When I conducted the search “how to get rid of bed bugs” the top search results had exact keyword matches for “how to get rid of bed bugs”.  The search results with the alternative keywords, “how to kill bed bugs” appeared further down the list.

Also, if you search both “how to get rid of bed bugs” and “how to kill bed bugs” you will get different search results with a different ranking order.  Although Google’s semantic search knows that these keywords can be synonymous the search results aren’t.  The most relevant search results and top ranking search results in this case was determined by exact match keywords.

SEO for Semantic Search

So how do you optimize for semantic search.  Obviously an entire book could be written on this subject matter but briefly, most of what we currently do with SEO is still valid.

  • Conduct a keyword analysis. Use the Google Keyword Tool and see which phrase was searched more often; get rid of bed bugs or kill bed bugs.
  • Then optimize for the most searched phrase.  Google still wants to know the most relevant content that exactly matches the keyword.
  • Include synonyms in your content and make your content as contextually rich as possible.