What Is Semantic Search?


What Is Semantic Search?

What Is Semantic SearchSemantic search sounds like a foreign language, I know. It’s not.  It’s a big word to describe a pretty simple concept.  Semantic search is the reason you get pretty decent search results when you type “bad hair day.”

Instead of taking you just to pre-teen forums where the words “bad hair day” are repeated over and over, the search engine will give you results for hair salons, hair tutorials, and tips about hair care.

Search engines are getting smarter and relying less on crawling sites with exact matches to your search query. They are taking the context, the word choice, and the location (among many other things) into consideration as they produce result pages for the billions of search queries they process every day.

When a search engine (primarily Google) is able to synthesize this information and then present results based on inferences from your query, this is what we call semantic search.

Another way to put it is that search engines kind of read your mind to determine what you really want and then delivers search results accordingly.

How Does Semantic Search Change the Search Results?

Google isn’t necessarily searching for results based on the exact words of the search query anymore. From an SEO standpoint, it means that Google isn’t interested in keywords as much as they used to be. Instead, they are focused on what the searcher means when they type in their query, not necessarily the actual words that they typed.

Don’t fill your content with long strings of keywords. To Google, this is a red flag of unhelpful content. Instead, use relevant keywords naturally within the content of your site. Organic content will lead to organic clicks, which lead to organic search rankings, which Google values much more than the spammy and contrived sites.

Where Did Semantic Search Come From?

The Hummingbird update is the update that changed the name of the game as far as search queries and the accompanying search results. The Hummingbird update gets rid of all sites that are using excessive keywords or keywords that don’t make sense or strings of keywords that are awkward in content. These things decrease the value of a site for both search engines and humans.

How Does Semantic Search Affect My Site?

As a business owner with a website, you don’t really need to worry about semantic searching. Honestly, if you’re doing SEO right, then you don’t really need to worry about it – semantic search will actually probably help your site thrive.

So what can you do to optimize to make semantic search beneficial to you? Well, there are a few things you can do.

Useful Content

Make sure your content on your site is useful and addresses the topics within thoroughly and accurately. Google crawlers search sites with a lot of great information to find answers to search queries. If your site has a lot of content, it’s more likely to hold the answers that the search engines and the searchers want.


Optimizing your site for your geographic location will help search queries that are focused in your area. Often, searchers will type in a query that contains the words “near me.” By optimizing your site by being in your Google My Business rankings, having accurate hours and location information on your site, and including location-specific content on your blog, search engines will be able to link your site to semantic queries.

Overall, the most important thing about working with the search engines is to make your site as accessible to humans as you possibly can. The more useful your site is to a human, the more useful it will be to a search engine, which, in turn, makes your site even more useful to more humans.

Don’t be afraid of semantic search. Embrace it and optimize your site accordingly.

Kylie Brooks
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