Imagine if someone asked you to buy something for them online.

The chances are that they’re going to have to give you a pretty in-depth description, particularly if they don’t have a link to send you on Facebook or text.

You’d need to know everything about the item to ensure you were giving that person exactly what they wanted, from the colour of the item, to its purpose, its size, and any additional extras. This thought process is where Google’s semantic search seems to have come from, following the 2013 Hummingbird update. It works to discover the intent and context behind what a user searches for, and which results will be most relevant.

How Does This Relate to Long-Tail Keywords?

Clearly, if Google wants to find out as much information as possible about users, and the results they want to find, they’re going to need as many words as possible. Long-tail keywords are searches that include more than three words – usually utilized by people searching for very specific info. These lengthier searches often have less competition and can be utilized by businesses to appeal to an audience who may be further along the sales funnel than your casual searcher.

For example, if you were hoping to buy a pair of shoes, searching for the term “shoes” quickly generates around 834,000,000 results – clearly a pretty significant amount of information. While this search may bring up plenty of online retailers and designers, it will also deliver pages upon pages of information that could be irrelevant. For instance, women searching for high-heels don’t want to have to trudge through dozens of pairs of kids flip-flops.

Learning Semantic Search

Semantic search and long-tail keywords complement each other perfectly, as they include the addition of particulars into general search terms. For example, “Men’s grey running shoes size 10” may only be six words of information, but it provides way more for Google to work with than simply “shoes”. At the same time, the user saves time by avoiding the pressure of sifting through other styles or sizes.

As a business, you can make use of this phenomenon by changing some of your keywords into long-tail keywords. For instance, in the description of a particular product, write down everything that your customers could be looking for in a semantic fashion, rather than simply entering the bare minimum.

To do this authentically, you’ll need to get a feel for what your customers want, and how they think. Often, the most relevant keywords will excel in a keyword format, and the day-to-day events of your business can provide great suggestions for SEO-boosting content. For example, frequently asked questions like “How can I look after my new suede shoes”, might be exactly what your customers are searching for online.

On the other hands, items that you sell the most might be another searching point, like “long black boots”, and local queries using geographical terms can help to improve your local SEO ranking too.

In a few words, long-tail keywords, and semantic search help to formulate a meaning that leads to valued results. Often, while your customer has an idea of what they want, your website can act as the resource that they need.