Choosing relevant keywords is essential to SEO optimization. Without the right keywords, your excellent content may end up laying fallow on the internet, read by only a small percentage of your potential audience. Semantic Keyword research is an SEO strategy that can yield great results when applied correctly – here are the basics.
A Matter of Semantics
When two people agree on something but differ on each other’s choice of words, they are arguing about semantics – the way a word or phrase is interpreted. Semantic keywords are so useful to SEO strategists because they allow us to predict what kind of words the audience may use when they search for something on the internet. This is extremely important when a word has more than one meaning, which will affect search results depending on how the word is used.
For example, take the word ‘lemon’. A user who enters the word in a Google search may be thinking of an actual lemon, a lemon tree, the colour lemon yellow, or a poorly-made product (often called a ‘lemon’). For this reason, understanding semantics will allow you to tailor your keywords when you generate content for your website.
Using Semantic Keyword Research
Search engine algorithms have been designed to understand basic semantics – in other words, the search engine looks at the full phrase you enter in the search bar and tries to guess the meaning. It’s estimated that Google has the same understanding of semantics as a learner in grade 6, something that should be kept in mind when choosing semantic keywords.
The Research Process
Because Google understands semantics, your first step when choosing keywords is an easy one. Google’s Keyword tool will generate a list of appropriate core keywords that will get your SEO strategy going. Once you have your core keywords, it’s time to take the next step and identify supporting keywords. These are words and phrases that are related but not identical to your core keywords, keeping duplicate content to a minimum and making your SEO strategy more effective. For example, if your core keywords are ‘Durban holidays’, you may want to include words like ‘Umhlanga hotels’ or ‘uShaka facilities’ in your content, meta sets and headers. Finally, you’ll want to include some ‘stemming keywords’ in your content. These words are unrelated to your core and supporting keywords but have something in common with them. Taking the above example, you could include words like ‘South Africa holiday’ or ‘coastal holidays’ in your content.
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