Google Semantic Search | Focusing On User Intent

When you enter a search query in Google, the search engine uses algorithms to return the most relevant results. In 2015 Google’s Hummingbird update issued a major adjustment in Google’s search algorithm. It essentially completely changed the way Google’s search algorithm worked. It placed a much greater emphasis on Semantic Search.

What is Semantic Search?

The aim of semantic search is to better understand user intent and as a result improve search accuracy and deliver the most accurate results in search.

The best way to understand semantic search is with this example. If you type the keyword ‘weather’ into Google in your location you will be served these search results.

semantic search weather

Google has focused the search results on user intent and has therefore served you the weather for your current location, as semantic search deems this the most relevant result to your search query. Google has decided that these search results are more likely to have been the aim of your query, rather than a scientific explanation of what ‘weather’ is.

And yes it really did get that hot!

Let’s try another example, this time using the keyword ‘time’, which results in Google serving these search results.

semantic search time

Google has decided that the user intent here is to find out the time and has therefore served the most relevant search results it deems for this query.

What Does Semantic Search Mean For SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimisation understanding how Google algorithms work is essential, but it is also important to understand how the way we ‘search’ is changing. With voice search becoming ever more popular semantic search is only going to become more important.

This means SEOs need to focus on their semantic search strategy. So, what are some of the things SEOs need to consider?

Quality Content

To rank in Google’s search results the content on your site needs to be quality. Ask yourself, what makes your content better than what’s out there already? If you’re not producing quality content then your chances of ranking in Google search and being viewed as a valuable answer to search queries are minimal.

Question/Answer Focus

Sometimes we forget that the fundamentals of a search query are very basic. Every time someone types (or speaks) a search query they are looking for an answer to something. Does your site have a question/answer focus? If not then you could be damaging your chances of ranking. Think about what people are asking on Google related to the keywords your site targets and then produce a quality answer for those queries.

Final Word on Semantic Search

Semantic search focuses on user intent. It is important to understand and be aware that there are things you can do to make sure that your content is targeting specific search queries and you’re improving your chances of ranking in Google search. The best way to do this is by thinking how people use Google and what they search for. Primarily, people are looking for answers, so make sure you’re providing them! Make sure you undertake keyword research to make sure the content you produce targets relevant search queries and is going to help your search visibility.