What Are Semantic Keywords and How Do They Help SEO?
Search engines have gotten better at understanding what users are looking for. To keep up, your website needs to evolve its search engine optimization techniques. These days, successful SEO goes beyond specific keyword phrases. If you want to snag top rankings, your content also needs semantic keywords.
What Are Semantic Keywords?
A semantic keyword is a word or phrase that has something in common with the primary keyword — a related idea or topic. Semantic concepts are like family trees or brainstorming maps, where one idea branches out into many words that often appear together.
Semantic Search Vs. Keyword Search
Have you ever tried describing a movie that you can’t remember the title of? You might say: “It’s a 90s movie with Ryan Reynolds, where he wipes his memory and leaves clues. The one with the machine that sees the future. It has Uma Thurman and that actor who played Two-Face in Batman.”
This is a semantic search. The most important keyword — the name of the movie — is missing. Even the main actor is wrong: “Payback” starred Ben Affleck, not Ryan Reynolds.
Amazingly, Google can still find the answer. It just needs to look at semantic keyword phrases:
- Movies around the 90s (actually from 2003)
- Wipes memory
- See the future
- Uma Thurman movies
- Two-Face actors
On the other hand, a strict keyword search would only have looked at Ryan Reynolds movies from the 90s, making it impossible to find the right answer.
What Are Some Examples of Semantic Keywords?
It’s easier to understand semantic terms when you see them in action.
Main Keyword: Plumber in Phoenix
This local SEO keyword can branch out in many directions:
- Plumbing problems: Pipe leaks, burst pipes, frozen pipes, clogged drains, water heater not working
- Plumbing services: Emergency plumbing, leak repair, pipe fixes, pipe replacement, drain cleaning, water heater installation
- Business focus: Commercial plumbing services, residential plumbing, plumber for new home construction, plumber for remodeling
- Plumbing careers: Pipefitter, steamfitter, technician, journeyman plumber, master plumber, plumbing contractor
- Phoenix neighborhoods: Ahwatukee Foothills, Desert View, North Mountain, Deer Valley
- Suburbs near Phoenix: Tempe, Peoria, Mesa, Gilbert, Scottsdale
Semantic keywords add significant value to your content. “Plumber in Scottsdale,” “Deer Valley plumber” and “Phoenix steamfitter” all support local SEO efforts.
Main Keyword: Mediterranean Diet
The number of connections that are possible with semantic phrases is staggering:
- Weight-loss words: diet, lose weight, calories, fat, glycemic index, nutrition, exercise, meal plan
- Mediterranean places: Spain, Italy, Greece, Morrocco, Crete, Florence, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Athens
- Foods: fish, salmon, extra virgin olive oil, olives, cheese, yogurt, legumes (such as lentils or chickpeas), leafy greens, red wine
- Health benefits: heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids
- Local restaurants (in New York City): Barbounia, ZiZi, Pera Soho, Meme Mediterranean
This example shows that context matters when choosing target keywords. Gyms need different search terms than Mediterranean restaurants. Athens and Ibiza aren’t relevant for either. Not all semantic terms fit the purpose of your content, and that’s normal.
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Why Are Semantic Search Terms Important?
In the beginning of SEO, specific keywords were all that mattered. This led to black-hat issues such as keyword stuffing. Now, search engines prioritize high-quality content and helpful, accurate information. Google tries to understand a person’s search intent more than the specific words in the search box. Semantic keywords play a huge role in finding the right web pages.
For example, if someone types “pizza near me,” which of the following do you think they’re looking for?
- The history of local pizza
- Pictures of pizza
- List of pizza ingredients and recipes
- Nearby pizza restaurants
The person is hungry and wants pizza now! In response, Google shows a list of top-rated places to order pizza in the area, along with phone numbers and ordering information.
How Do You Use Semantic Keyword Phrases for SEO?
Remember these key takeaways when planning your web content.
Prioritize Search Intent
Now that you know that Google cares about search intent more than rigid keywords, it’s time to do the same with your website. Before creating content, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is my target audience searching for this keyword in the first place?
- What answers or solutions do readers need?
- What are some related questions (i.e., FAQs) that can enrich the topic?
- What is my goal with this article?
Search intent and semantic keywords naturally complement each other. The better you understand why your audience needs help, the more effective your content is. In turn, your guide or blog post scores higher search rankings.
Invest in High-Quality, Long-Form Content
Articles that cover semantic topics in depth rank significantly higher than other content. Most pages in the No. 1 search position are about 1,500 words long. These top articles answer related questions, share tips and provide examples.
Amazing SEO content doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of smart planning, expertise and accurate information. Creating this type of content requires investing time and money, but the results are worth it.
Our high-quality SEO content runs circles around AI-generated posts when it comes to search rankings, user satisfaction, brand reputation and backlinks. Customers want content that is appealing and helpful.
Write About Topics Instead of Keywords
Choosing a focus keyword for a blog article is important, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of SEO success. If you’re doing things right, target keywords should be like the seasoning in a delicious dish, adding essential flavor but never overpowering the content. A pizza with fresh basil tastes incredible, but only when balanced with a crispy crust, cheese, tomatoes and other ingredients.
Structure articles so semantic keyword phrases flow naturally from one idea to the next. Answer questions that someone approaching the topic for the first time would probably have. Find FAQ ideas by looking at the “People also ask” section of Google’s search results.
Does Your Company Need Semantic Keywords for SEO?
Modern SEO isn’t a question of semantic search versus keyword search. The two techniques support each other, enriching your SEO and contributing to a better website. At BKA Content, we follow SEO best practices every time, from semantic keywords to white-hat link building. See what amazing content looks like right away.
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