Adjusting Your SEO Strategy for Semantic Search

Best maternity hospital Alabama
Prostate cancer risks
Effective weight loss strategies

Hospital marketers have been conditioned to think in keywords since SEO became a buzzword in the late ’90s. But it’s time to go back to thinking—and writing—like a human. That’s because, today, semantic search reigns supreme.

What Is Semantic Search?

Semantic search simply refers to search engine queries that use more natural language. Instead of typing in keywords on the search bar, consumers are typing – or more likely, asking — questions or stream of consciousness requests. Let’s look at some examples:

Keyword search: Best maternity hospital Alabama
Semantic search: Which hospital in Alabama has the best maternity care?

Keyword search: Prostate cancer risks
Semantic search: What are my chances of getting prostate cancer?

Keyword search: Effective weight loss strategies
Semantic search: What’s the best way to lose weight?

Why the Switch to Semantic Search?

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the days when you had to use quotation marks to string together search terms. But search engines are continually being updated to get better at understanding the searcher’s intent. Semantic search is the latest change. Semantic search is really a result of the increasing use of voice search.

Voice search will account for up to 50% of all web searches by 2020, according to Search Engine Journal. And people are much more likely to use full sentences when asking Siri or Hey Google for information. “Alexa, current time London” just doesn’t roll off the tongue. Now we’re asking, “Alexa, what time is it in London?”

Content Really Is King

Search engines are no longer fooled by keyword stuffing. They can now decipher the topic of content using context rather than relying solely on keywords. This means content creators can’t get away with writing only around keywords. Search engines want to return results people find most useful. So search engines reward quality content with higher rankings.

Smart Phone On Desk With Screen Showing How Can I Help You? Text

How to Write for Semantic Search

Optimizing your content for semantic search isn’t difficult. It just takes practice. Here’s how to get started:

Find out what your audience is searching for. Ask call-takers to take notes on their calls. Have them capture caller questions verbatim. And scan review sites for questions people are asking about your hospital.

Turn keywords into questions. Brainstorm questions around your current list of keywords. Or get some help from a bot. Enter a keyword into Answer the Public and it’ll produce a list of related questions. You can also type a question into Google and then check out the “People Also Asked” section for similar or related questions.

Focus on FAQs. One easy way to get the most bang for your buck is to create FAQs around your top keywords. Each question should be given a subhead (<h2>) designation (and be sure to use your keywords in each question).

Most importantly, answer them! Remember, Google ultimately wants its users to find what they’re looking for. So focus on providing quality information by thoroughly answering the questions your audience is asking.

TotalCom Marketing is a full-service healthcare marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories – our clients’ stories. Contact us for more information or view our work here.