Why Are Semantic Keywords Important in SEO? (4 Tips to Use)
Your word choice matters a lot for search engine optimization (SEO), because it affects many major components of your content strategy. SEO agency experts know this well. For instance, everything from keyword effectiveness to writing quality depends on it.
In this guide, you’ll get a comprehensive overview of semantic keywords in SEO, including:
- A detailed look into semantic keywords and how they fit into SEO strategies
- Four tips to help you maximize the SEO benefits of semantic keywords
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
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What Are Semantic Keywords? Why Do They Matter?
Semantic keywords refer to words or terms related to your target keywords, often appearing alongside them. They provide context or strengthen target keywords by steering content away from potentially ambiguous concepts, or emphasizing the subject matter. This helps search engines to file them correctly.
Search engines have moved away from exclusively relying on target keywords to understand content. Using semantic keywords is like playing word association, except with a search engine. Essentially, use words that you associate with the target.
Take the keyword phrase "bed and breakfast," for example. Semantically-related keywords for it include:
- mountain lodge
- overnight stay
- getaway trip
- cozy night
- warm hospitality
Within the greater SEO community, the above examples are sometimes called latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. However, the term “LSI keyword” is a misnomer. Yes, LSI exists as a concept, but only in the context of technology for cataloging words for meaning-based searches.
“Meaning” refers to how people use different vocabulary to convey one thing. It fails to include the difficulty people encounter when searching for a topic or concept, without fully articulating their thoughts. Thus, Google has confirmed that it does not use LSI technology.
How Semantic Keywords Support SEO Through Context
Keywords are fundamental to SEO and every website strategy that comes from it. Context plays a similarly large role in how search engines “understand” human-made content. A good analogy is comparing conversations with a close friend to speaking with a foreign-speaking tourist.
To illustrate, you most likely unconsciously apply the following special rules when communicating with your friend:
1. Seldom requires additional information or explanation to understand what your friend is saying or wants to say
2. Immediately understanding each other’s inside jokes, jargon, and references
On the other hand, the opposite might apply to the tourist, especially when the languages are different:
1. Relying on simplified language or needing additional context to understand the person
2. A potential lack of crucial background knowledge about the other person and their culture
If you are wondering how you could understand one but not the other, here is why:
1. Both parties must agree on word choice and meaning to understand each other well.
2. Prior context is needed to understand what the other person wants to communicate.
In other words, context comes from existing knowledge, greatly reducing the task of trying to understand another person. Likewise, semantic keywords are relevant because they form a list of words that consistently appear in multiple instances across many related articles.
4 Tips for Maximizing Semantic Keywords for SEO
As mentioned above, semantic keywords are essential because search engines stopped relying on individual target keywords. Besides, semantic keywords are valuable as writing prompts, as they inspire you to write longer and deeper discussions around a topic.
Read on for four amazing SEO tips to get the most out of your semantic keywords.
1. Pick Your Keywords Carefully
If you want to get the most out of semantic keywords, choose them carefully. “Semantically related” is an extremely broad concept, especially with regard to long-tail keywords. This means some words are more applicable to your content than others.
As an example, if your article concerns a San Diego bed and breakfast, "Pacific Ocean view," "boho chic," and "beachfront" are ideal semantic keywords. However, "ski resort" is not, because while semantically related to bed and breakfast, it does not fit in the context of San Diego’s local area.
2. Get Help from AI-Powered Tools
Pertaining to how to find semantic keywords, artificial intelligence (AI) is invaluable in making this process easier. Many free online “LSI keyword” generator tools give excellent ideas. You can trust these tools to provide quality semantic keywords.
Since AI is not perfect (at least not yet), always double-check the accuracy and relevance of the results against common sense and actual practice. Doing this allows you to verify and narrow your list of semantic keywords to only the best ones for SEO.
3. Do a Thorough Check on Google
Semantic keywords are those that you, your users, and search engines associate with search terms. Ultimately, using search engine results pages (SERPs) to reference whether a word or phrase is semantically related to your target keyword makes sense.
This is especially true for Google SERPs with various features, such as knowledge graphs and featured snippets, which elevate the most relevant results to the top of the page. Auto-complete and related searches are also great resources for semantic keyword research.
4. Remember To Write In Context
Last but not least, use your semantic keywords in context, and use them sparingly. This means, similar to your target keyword, avoid stuffing them into places where they do not belong. You want to avoid getting penalized for misusing what should be a good addition to your SEO strategy.
Do not pressure yourself into using extra keywords, if you cannot fit them into your content. They are good to have, but are not a must-have. There is no penalty for leaving them out. Prioritize creating content that flows naturally, rather than over-optimized ones.
Keywords have changed a lot over the years. Today, a single target keyword is not enough to optimize your content for search engines. Fortunately, new additions, such as semantic keywords, have become part of established best SEO keyword practices.
You might be currently using them without even knowing it. Semantic keywords differ from target keywords, in t
hat they provide a purely supportive role in content creation. Apart from this, the same rules apply regarding conducting keyword research and avoiding keyword stuffing.
Need help fitting semantic keywords into your SEO strategy? Contact Digital Authority Partners to learn how we can help.
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