Seo strategy

How to improve your SEO strategy with Semantic Technologies

With the team of WordLift our mission is to democratize semantic technologies to make them accessible to anyone with a website. In fact, today, big players leveraging these technologies have gained an edge in the digital marketing space. Although the goal seems ambitious at first glance, it is already achievable. In this article, I show you why and how.

Semantic SEO is the future present

“Next year there will be two things we want to focus on. The first is structured inyour.”
Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google (via: thempost.com)

In 2015, futurist Ray Kurzweil arrived at Google with a mission: to make the search engine capable of reading human language. In fact, during an interview for Wired, this is what Ray Kurzweil said:

My mission at Google is to develop natural language understanding with a team and in collaboration with other Google researchers. Search has gone beyond simple keyword research, but it still doesn’t read all those billions of web pages and book pages for semantic content. If you write a blog post, you have something to say, you don’t just create words and synonyms. We would like computers to actually capture this semantic meaning. If that happens, and I think it’s doable, people might ask more complex questions.
Source: wired.com

Far from being a futuristic goal. We know that Google uses artificial intelligence to read and interpret human language. Ray Kurzweil’s work at Google was the culmination of a massive upgrade to Google’s search algorithm, called Humming-bird, launched in 2013.

This went further when in 2015 a system using machine learning artificial intelligence was integrated into Hummingbird. It is called RankBrain, and according to Bloomberg, it was already the third most important signal in 2015. It was the beginning of a new industry in the world of SEO, called Semantic SEO. Does this mean traditional SEO is dead?

Traditional SEO is not dead

The old SEO says if you want to rank your site successfully, you need to have backlinks, keywords and optimize for them. These basic tactics always work. Indeed, the backbone of the web was built on backlinks.

In fact, in a Q&A with Andrey Lipattsev, senior search quality strategist at Google, when asked what factors, along with RankBrain, affected Google’s rankings, he said :

I can tell you what they are. It’s content. And these are links pointing to your site. (The source: searchengineland.com)

Therefore, it has been confirmed that the three main factors of Google ranking are:

1 & 2: Links, Content (hard to say which comes first of the two)

3: RankBrain

Therefore, even though traditional SEO is not dead; keywords lose relevance. In the past, keywords were crucial for the search engine to match a user query with a web page. Now, Google is getting better and better at interpreting these questions rather than relying solely on keywords.

For example, if I type in the Google search box “Height of the Colosseum”, this is what Google answers:

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You might think this is just a simple keyword match. It’s not.

In fact, if I ask Google “how tall is the Colosseum?” this is the answer:

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In other words, even though I used different statements, Google’s search algorithm correctly implied that I was referring to the same thing. That’s why I got the same answer.

Therefore, Google’s search algorithm is strong enough to read and interpret the queries of its users. But what about content creators? How can you, as a content creator, ensure that Google understands your content in a way that bridges the gap between you and your audience?

This is where Semantic SEO comes in. However, Semantic SEO was born out of the founding of Semantic Technologies. What is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO in a nutshell

Semantic SEO is a marketing technique aimed at improving website traffic by providing search engines with meaningful data that can unambiguously address a specific search intent.
Source: What is Semantic SEO?

In short, when you write content, it is data that the human brain can read, interpret and understand. The human brain uses concepts to make sense of these contents. What about search engines? They use entities.

So, if I had to use an equation, it would be this:

concepts: human brains = entities: search algorithms

Why are entities so powerful for your SEO strategy?

Let Google explain “what is an entity?”

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In the context of the Semantic Web, an entity can be anything that exists in the real world. Concretely, one way to turn a web page into an entity is to turn content into data. In short, this page will become machine readable.

A powerful way to do this is to use vocabulary that search engines can understand. This vocabulary is called Schema.

Enter Schema.org

Schema.org is a kind of lingua franca for search engines. A systematic and recognized way of describing web pages so that machines can understand them unambiguously.

In other words, when you write content, it is data that can be processed by the human brain. However, to make it usable by search engines as well, you need structured data.

Schema.org is a possible vocabulary that can be used to implement structured data on a web page, thus unambiguous for search engines.

However, Schema markup is today the most effective way (not the only one) to provide structured data to search engines. Indeed, of the 617 vocabularies existing in the Linked open vocabularies (LOV), Schema.org was founded by commercial search engines like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex.

When you use Schema markup, you have the power to transform a web page into an entity. This is how you improve your SEO strategy and increase keywords. Today, anyone with a website can make their content “indexed” within the Semantic Web, from Schema.org

Using Schema has an additional benefit. You can publish open linked data.

What is Linked Open Data?

When you implement Schema markup on a web page, you have generated structured data. The moment this data is published on the web as metadata, it becomes open data; when this data is connected, it becomes linked open data.

This is the last step in the process. This is how your website becomes part of the Semantic Web. Indeed, you can now build your own knowledge graph.

What is a knowledge graph?

In the example above related to the query about the height of the Colosseum, Google managed to find the answer even though the question was perhaps ambiguous. He did it through a Knowledge Graph. In short, The Google Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used to improve its search results through semantics.

Now you can use tools like WordLift to create a knowledge graph on your website. This knowledge graph allows your website to be part of the Semantic Web revolution.

A knowledge graph is formed by nodes and edges, where the nodes can be objects in the real world and bound the relationships between them.

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See how in the image above, in a few nodes and edges, a knowledge graph tells us Sir’s story. Tim Berners-Lee. Ssource:en.lodlive.it

When the knowledge graph takes shape, it adds a layer of data on top of your website, making it part of a better and richer web, a Semantic Web.

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Source: lod-cloud.net

put it all together

For the past two decades, content available on the web has been connected through links. These links created a network of web pages. We are now moving towards a network of data that search engines can understand and interpret. Thus, the gap between a web page and its audience can be bridged by tools like WordLift, so the search engine can find the right audience for those pages.

Therefore, who uses an entity-based semantic SEO strategy, opens linked data, and eventually builds an internal knowledge graph “indexes” a site for the Semantic Web.

In turn, the overall SEO strategy becomes much more effective. In fact, instead of targeting one or more keywords, you allow to create a solid context in a format that the search engine can read and interpret freely. This is how you can get more and better organic traffic.