Semantic search adds context and meaning to search results. For example, if someone is searching for “Lego” – do they want to buy Lego toys, or see a Lego movie or TV show (Ninjago is great). Another example might be “Tesla” – do people want to see the latest self-driving car, or learn more about Tesla the scientist and inventor?
How to Optimise for Semantic Search
- Make sure you understand search intent and any confusing searches like Tesla(inventor or car?), Jaguar (car or animal?), etc
- Look for structured data opportunities
- Optimise internal links – especially if you are using a “Pillar Post” and “Cluster Page” structure
- Follow traditional on page SEO best practices with headers, meta titles, alt tags etc
Tools for Semantic Search
SMA Marketing have done a cool YouTube video about Semantic Search and they recommend tools including:
- Advanced Custom Fields for WordPress
- Google Colab with a SpaCy
Before you publish a post – look at the search results for the keyword(s) you are optimising the post for. Check in incognito in Chrome to remove most of the personalisation of the results.
For any answer boxes or snippets, you can click the “3 dots” to get information about the results:
As well as the snippets, you can click the 3 dots next to any organic result. Here’s another result for “MMA training program pdf” with some additional information:
With this in mind – if you are looking to rank for “MMA training program pdf” then you will want to include the search terms highlighted in the “About this result” box: mma, training, program, pdf and ideally LSI keywords “workout” and “plan”.
It’s also a good idea to scroll down to the bottom of the SERP and check out the “related searches”
Take a look too at any breadcrumb results that pull through below the organic listings. Combining all this information will give you a good idea as to what Google understands by your search query and what people are looking for too.
Semantic Search & NLP
This is a bit techy, but thankfully, the guy at SMA Marketing (thank you if you’re reading this) has put together a file/load of python code that does most of the work for us. You can find it here – https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1PI6JBn06i3xNUdEuHZ9xKPG3oSRi1AUm?usp=sharing#scrollTo=uatWEoHp5nxZ
Hover over  and click the play icon that appears (highlighted yellow in screenshot below)
When that section has finished loading and refreshing, scroll down to the “Installation tensorflow + transformers + pipelines” section and click the play icon there.
When that’s finished doing it’s thing, scroll down again, and add your search query to the uQuery_1: section:
add your query and then press the “play” button on the left hand side opposite the uQuery_1 line
You should then see the top 10 organic results from Google on the left hand side – in the form of a list of URLs
Next, you can scrape all the results by scrolling down to the “Scraping results with Trafilatura” section and hover over the “[ ]” and press play again:
Next, when the scraping of results is done – scroll down to “Analyze terms from the corpus of results” section and click the play button that appears when you hover over “[ ]”
Next! when that’s done click the play button on the section full of code starting with:
“df_1[‘top_result’] = [‘Top 3’ if x <= 3 else ‘Positions 4 – 10’ for x in df_1[‘position’]] # add top_result = True when position <=3 “
Finally – scroll down and click the play button on the left of the “Visualizing the Top Results” section.
On the right hand side where it says “Top Top 3” and lists a load of keywords/terms – these are frequent and meaningful (apparently) terms used in the top 3 results for your search term.
Below that, you can see the terms used in the results from 4-10
Terms at the top of the graph are used frequently in the top 3 results e.g. “Mini bands”
Terms on the right are used frequently by the results in positions 4-10
From the graph above, I can see that for the search term “resistance bands” the top 3 results are using some terms, not used by 4-10 – including “Mini bands”, “superbands” “pick bodylastics”
- If you click on a term/keyword in the graph – a ton of information appears just below:
e.g. if I click “mini bands”
It’s interesting that “mini bands” is not featured at all in the results positioned 4-10
If you were currently ranking in position 7 for example, you’d probably want to look at adding “mini bands” into your post or product page
You can now go to the left-side-bar and click “Top 25 Terms” and click the “play icon” to refresh the data:
Obviously – use your experience etc and take the results with a pinch of salt – some won’t be relevant.
Natural Language Processing
next click on “Natural Langauge Processing” in the side-menu
Click the “play” icons next to “df_entity =df_1[df_1[‘position’] < 6]” and the section below.
When they have finished running click the play icon next to “Extracting Entities”
Click “play” on the “remove duplicates” section and again on the “Visualising Data” section
This should present you with a colourful table, with more terms and keywords – although for me most of the terms weren’t relevant in this instance 😦
You can also copy the output from the “Extracting the content from Top 5” section:
You can then click the different tabs/headings and get some cool insights
Remember to scroll right down to the bottom, as you’ll find some additional insights about important terms and their relevance
The Google NLP API is pretty interesting. You can also copy and paste your existing page copy into it, and see what Google categories different terms as, and how “salient” or important/relevant it thinks each term is. For some reason, it thinks “band” is an organisation in the above screenshot. You can look to improve the interpretations by adding relevant contextual copy around the term on the page, by using schema and internal links.