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Confused About the Semantic Web? Here are some examples.

The “semantic web” is all the rage these days in web development and digital marketing. But what does the "semantic web" look like? Have you seen an example of the semantic web? How do you know it's working?

To help answer these questions, we've put together three semantic web examples along with some advice on how to take advantage of these principles to improve your SEO.

Rich Search Results

One of the most obvious examples of the semantic web is right in your search results: rich search results. Rich search results refer to a wide variety of features that appear in a Google SERP beyond just the normal search snippet of title, URL and description. Here's a SERP chock full of rich results:

These features include:

  1. Rich snippets – those results that have images, star ratings, addresses and other information
  2. Knowledge panels – More often known simply as the Knowledge Graph, these are the boxes containing detailed information about an entity detected as the subject of a user query
  3. News Carousel – The top results from Google News search related to the topic of the query.
  4. Showtimes – When Google detects you searching for the title of a movie currently in theaters, or you search for movie times, showtimes for local theaters is displayed above the search results.

Other rich results that could appear in a SERP include:

  1. Answer Box: A rich snippet displayed above the organic results that contains page content Google thinks answers the user's question.
  2. Related Questions – Queries that Google thinks will help the user narrow down their search to find additional details.

In these rich search results, you can see Google's semantic algorithms Hummingbird and RainBrain at work. These two algorithms (they're not actually two separate ones, but two parts of Google's core) are responsible to figuring out the context of the query, “beauty and the beast” in this case, and matching it to information that fits that context. In this case, movie times, ratings, and news items like box office news and reviews.

Semantic Content Optimization

Making use of the semantic web on your site will help your pages perform better in search results. It will also help you expand the audience for each page.

Optimizing your content will help you take advantage of Google's conversational search abilities while focusing entirely on creating content your users' needs. Optimize your content semantically by focusing on:

  • Topic: Keywords are still important to SEO, but you don't need to dedicate a single landing page to each one. Instead, create pages for each topic relevant to your business.
  • User goal: Because Hummingbird is looking for websites address the searcher's need, your content should be focused on that as well. Create buyer personas to anticipate the queries your audience will use to find content on your topic. Then, use that to plan the articles you write for your site.
  • Natural language: Natural language processing (NLP) means that Google can understand the context of your content pretty well. The good news it that means you're free to write your content in whatever tone of voice works best for you, your audience and you topic. Using natural human language will also help you appear relevant to the right audience when there is some ambiguity surrounding key terms (think Apple the fruit vs. Apple the company).

To see this in action, let's say you have a website about home improvement and repair. One topic you'll want to focus on is fixing a leaky faucet. Incorporating the principles of semantic content into your site will help get that page into SERPs for several different queries related to the problem of leaky sinks:

1. Leaking bathroom faucet

2. My faucet is leaking

3. Why is my faucet leaking

4. How to prevent leaky faucet

In this example of semantic content at work, this one page is in the top 10 results for four queries related to leaky faucets and appears in the coveted feature snippet in four of them.

This is how taking advantage of the semantic web can really benefit your SEO.

Search Entity Optimization

Semantic entities are at the heart of semantic SEO and the semantic web. And, thanks to semantic web technologies like JSON-LD, RDF/XML and other RDF formats, you can tap into these entities to optimize your brand's appearance in search results.

To see this example of the semantic web in action, we again turn to the Knowledge Panels:

Looking to make your brand's entity accessible to Google? Do so using metadata like Schema.org markup.

WooRank can even help you optimize entities on your site by adding Schema metadata for your brand's blog and social media pages. Just enter your URLs in our Metadata Tool and then copy and paste the markup over to your website.

Adding this markup will help Google add those social media links at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel:

Local Entity Optimization

The semantic web can be a powerful tool for local businesses. And if you're a local business, you need to take advantage of its abilities; the popularity of “near me” keywords is growing like gangbusters every year:

Local optimization means getting your business into Google's local pack:

Use the LocalBusiness schema to add important information to get your business into the local search results:

  • Opening hours
  • Payment methods accepted
  • Price range ($, $$, $$$, etc.)
  • Address
  • Reviews
  • Aggregate ratings
  • Telephone number

Note that the goal here, as is often the case in semantic SEO, isn't necessarily to get users to click through to your website. The goal is to get important information, the information the user is actually searching for, in front of the searcher as quickly as possible. We've known for years how improving local SEO will improve in-store visits and purchases.

Wrap Up

The semantic web can sometimes seem like a complicated or highly technical concept to grasp. However, once you've seen some examples of the semantic web in action, it becomes much easier and clearer to see what it is and how it can benefit your website.

Looking to incorporate semantic web concepts into your website? Check out some of the tools above to help you get the job done.

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