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Semantics in SEO

Mark Cronin

Semantics is a more advanced and theoretical form of SEO however, that has the potential to unlock some power both within your site and off site.  First of all it is important to understand what the term “Semantics” actually refers to.  Well generally speaking the definition is:

“The Study of Language Meaning”

This fits in quite nicely with the first point that I want to discuss with regards to Semantics in SEO:


Using Semantics on Site:

  • When creating copy for your site you need to keep text relevant.  Mentioning your targeted key phrase is one of the most important aspects of this.
  • However many SEOs get hung up on using the “Exact” phrase in amongst their content.  This isn’t something that should worry you to much.
  • Of course it helps to have the key phrase mentioned, so don’t take this as a course of action to never mention your key phrase.

  • Instead, consider how your page is built, is it built around that term, are there references that mean the same thing as your key phrase, but written in a different format?
  • This is where the Semantics play comes in.
  • If you have a page centred on the term “Easter Eggs”, how much value do you think an image of Easter Eggs combined with the text and references to Easter holidays would have?
  • This is where every aspect of your page comes into effect, including images, headers, text, varied text, varied links and a natural organic flow!
  • Repeating the same key phrase over and over will sometimes work, but there is a chance you could be penalised for it.
  • Using variations of your key phrase still allows you to target your phrase, but in a more natural and organically relevant way.

Page Relevance and Semantics:

  • On page relevance for links or your own site is very important, and this also plays a part with how Semantics work!
  • Semantic use of keywords on a page that you are going to link build from could build a stronger connection between your link and the content on the page.
  • This is arguably a more powerful way to build links to your site, by using pages or constructing pages with more semantic value to your key phrase.
  • Anything that you can use to make a page more relevant is recommended.  But how far can you go?
  • Does Google recognise that a hotel called Le Sport is situated in the Caribbean?  Does this means that we could get a boost in page relevance is you are targeting Caribbean holidays, and the page is based around the Le Sport St Lucia?
  • It is difficult to tell how advanced some aspects of Google’s algorithm really are, but this could be one of the areas that may not be in full effect yet.
  • This is not to say that deep relevance like the one mentioned above wouldn’t still be effective:

The Le Sport St Lucia hotel is constantly going to be referred to around the Caribbean and St Lucia.  So surely this means that Google should be able to recognise the relevance between this hotel and the Caribbean?

I don’t want to complicate things (well, I kind of do in this part), but this might make it a little easier to explain.  I studied Psychology at university, and this really made me think about how Google might be able to associate certain aspects with others:



How does a Phobia come about?  It is all about association.  There is no such thing as an irrational fear; all fears have come about because you have associated a certain object or thing with something that once scared you, or caused you to become scared.  One of the most common fear creations is that created by knowledge.  Knowledge is one of the easiest ways to become fearful of something.  Let’s face it, before you knew snakes were venomous and had teeth, they probably weren’t all that scary.  However the second that you are told how deadly they are, fear of this animal is immediately instilled within you.  Now every time you think of snakes, fear is a preliminary response.




I understand that this is quite a morbid way of looking at things, but this could be a similar way in which Google operates.  Associating aspects from one term with a semantically similar one.  Another part of it is memory, being able to remember where these references have occurred and how often, making a decision if they are semantically the same, or similar.

If Google constantly comes across the hotel Le Sport St Lucia being associated with the term “Caribbean” or “St Lucia” would it not begin to assume that the two have semantic properties?

So the next time Google comes across a page solely on the Le Sport hotel and an outbound link to a Caribbean information page without any reference on the Le Sport page to the term “Caribbean”, it should still be considered relevant because of past experience.

This is very much an ‘out there’ way of considering how Google could operate on a deep level, and is admittedly a complex and esoteric concept.  However the argument is there and it is a possibility that could create other opportunities in the SEO world, with regards to future link building and possibly domain creation.



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