A Digital Marketing Guide: What Is Semantic SEO?

A Digital Marketing Guide: What Is Semantic SEO?

This blog explores how the 2013 Google Hummingbird algorithm update affected SEO content writing. Learn about this shift toward semantic SEO here.

In the world of SEO, we all know that content is king. Writing and publishing high-quality content on a consistent basis is one of the most surefire ways to find SEO success. Of course, this is often easier said than done. Writing effective SEO content that ranks requires time, writing talent, and extensive knowledge of SEO best practices and strategies. Since Google is continually tweaking and updating its search algorithms, this is a constant battle.

In 2013, Google revolutionized SEO content writing with their Hummingbird update. Now, instead of simply searching for keywords, Google focused on semantic search to match users with relevant, trustworthy, and high-quality content. In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at the Hummingbird algorithm update, semantic SEO, and how this approach to content writing has revolutionized the world of SEO.

Peaks Digital Marketing is an experienced and dedicated full-service SEO firm that can help your website reach the top page of Google. Through our full range of SEO services, including content marketing, AdWords campaigns, backlinks, and web development and design, we can keep you one step ahead of your competition and help your site rank.

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Changes Everything

In 2013, Google changed the game once again with the release of their major Hummingbird algorithm. In their continual pursuit to match web users with more relevant and authoritative content and websites, Google went big. Compared to other algorithm updates, Hummingbird completely altered the existing search algorithm.

Two search engine features—the knowledge graph and semantic search—were the focus of this algorithm update and totally changed how Google connects users to relevant web content. Google’s knowledge graph essentially refers to its enormous database of facts and figures. For example, the knowledge graph can quickly answer a question like “Who was the first president of the United States?” But what about more complex and vague search queries? That’s where semantic search comes in.

What Is Semantic Search?

One of the key changes brought on by the Hummingbird update was semantic search. Semantic search refers to search engines going beyond keywords to match a user’s search query with relevant, high-quality search results. When Google crawls a website, it’s reading the entirety of the text—not just hunting down keywords—to get a sense of the overall topic and important themes.

An example might help. Let’s say a web user types in the following search query: “best landscaping in Colorado.” The user intent here could be going a few different ways. Are they curious about how to landscape in Colorado? Do they want images of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state? Or are they looking for a local landscaping company for their services? Any of these options would make sense, which is why semantic search is so important in making search results more intelligent.

Keywords still matter, of course, but with semantic search, Google is now looking at how comprehensively your site covers the topic of “best landscaping in Colorado.” Sure, a site with a photo gallery of some of the most beautiful landscapes around the state might answer the query, but is that enough?

Imagine how well a blog or article would rank if it covers the topic from all angles. This could include landscaping tips, a list of native trees and plants to include in your Colorado landscape, the history of Colorado landscaping, some of the best landscapes, and more. The page could even include a link to a local Colorado landscaping business. Semantic search incorporates topic relevance, comprehensiveness, and context to determine a search user’s intent and match them with the best content out there.

What Is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO refers to an approach to SEO content writing that takes into account the new rules of semantic search. Of course, Google is still looking for keywords, so you don’t want to totally discount keyword research, but the search engine giant is now looking at much more on your page. Semantic SEO attempts to decipher the intent of a user’s query by relying on context to unlock the meaning of a search. After all, semantics refers to the study and search for meaning, which is exactly what this approach to SEO is all about.

Semantic SEO takes a variety of factors into account, such as topic relevance, context, keywords, and a user’s location and search history to better assess the meaning of their search query. As our previous example shows, searching for the “best landscaping in Colorado” could take you down multiple roads of intent and meaning. Semantic SEO works to find the right one.

How To Write Content for Semantic SEO

If you’re not writing for semantic SEO in 2021, you’re missing out. Since the Hummingbird algorithm update, it’s become critical that SEO writers and experts go beyond simply using the right keywords. Now, content writers must be able to thoroughly and comprehensively address a topic to fulfill a user’s search query. This is just one way that Google is making the web a more relevant and smarter place.

But how exactly can you tailor your web copy to rank well with semantic search? Write content that is topically relevant. Topically relevant means that you’re writing an article or blog post that covers the topic from a variety of angles with in-depth details and knowledge. This means you’ll need to aim for long-form pieces of content as opposed to those short 200- to 300-word articles. Focus on covering a topic from all angles, including the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Researching the topic before writing is a critical step to ensure you cover all your bases to satisfy the user’s search query.


Semantic SEO is a method of SEO content writing that focuses on topics instead of just keywords. With semantic SEO, you work to decipher a user’s search intent by comprehensively covering a topic. Not only will a focus on semantic SEO boost your SEO ranking, but it will also improve the overall quality of your site’s content.

Peaks Digital Marketing is your full-service SEO agency. With a complete selection of digital marketing tools and services, including content marketing, web design and development, and AdWords campaigns, we can help your business gain visibility online and drive more organic traffic to your site than ever before.

To learn more about semantic search, semantic SEO, and what an experienced team of SEO experts can do for you and your site, visit us at Peaks Digital Marketing. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the top.