Ranking for keywords is essential in SEO, but now that Google is re-emphasizing semantic search, your website may not appear if Google doesn’t think it correlates with the user’s thought process. According to readwriteweb.com “Google is relying on machine intelligence to interpret the meaning of the query.” Instead of selecting websites that relate directly to the keywords, Google is returning searches based upon the possible relationship between the strings of keywords and Google Plus activity. Google uses the information provided in Google Plus to help them determine which sites to send to users based on their interests, circles, and likes. Semantic search is about making search results personal – the engines are getting smarter about figuring out the searcher’s intent. As a result, the engines provide higher quality results, weeding out low-quality sites.

How can you optimize your site for semantic search? Review your site for its current approach to content, backlinks, and social media.

Content

Pages containing well-written, useful, and relevant content always rank higher than shoddy content. Especially now that semantic search is coming in to play, you will need to construct your content around the user thought process. Your content should anticipate the user’s questions and provide the information they seek.

Backlinks

With the advancement of semantic search, high-quality and relevant backlinks are essential to maintain a top ranking position in the SERPs. Earn your backlinks through quality channels like guest blogging, press releases, customer comments and social media platforms.

Google Plus

You can challenge the semantic search results through a powerful social media presence – particularly through an active Google Plus account. Google Plus is attempting to obtain a beloved spot in the social media space, trying desperately to compete with Facebook and Twitter. Naturally Google is rewarding sites that are adopting Google Plus. Build a complete social media presence that demonstrates your knowledge about your industry and that shares quality content with your followers and circles. Establishing a spot in the social media space ensures that your site and services are still found in Google and on other social media platforms.

Google is changing their search algorithm from keyword based to semantic search, focusing on the relationships between keywords to better understand user intent. If you are bidding on keywords, yet you are not what the user is seeking, you won’t rank. Consider these three tactics to stay on top of the evolving semantic search results.