Search Engine Optimization Is Frequently About Semantics
When someone says an issue is primarily about semantics, they're usually being a bit dismissive. In the world of search engine optimization, though, semantics is at the core of what's going on. Let's look at why that matters to you and your SEO efforts.
How Search Engines Used to Work
In the bygone days of search, everything was keyword-driven. Whichever site made the most references to a keyword won, pure and simple. This provided an unfortunate incentive to webmasters to just stuff their content with keywords, frequently producing ugly content without much value to the end-user
Search engine providers quickly realized this was a problem. The initial solution was to favor sites that had the most links based on keywords. Webmasters followed the incentives, and this led to link farming.
Over the years, the best search firms started focusing on the semantic structure of a document. Certain words are naturally related. "Football" and "touchdown," for example, have a strong semantic relationship with each other and slightly weaker relationships to the broader concept of "sports."
Search engines now predominantly focus on providing users with semantically rich sites. A page should have a topic, and it should explore that topic in depth. For folks in the SEO services business, this led to saying "content is king."
Appeasing the Ruler
If content is king in the world of semantics, then your goal as someone promoting a website is to appease your ruler. Suppose someone runs a law firm. More importantly, that law firm handles a specific form of business contract involving the import of highly regulated widgets. It's a niche business with a few wealthy companies so the firm has elected to specialize only in this type of client.
How does this practice attract the business of widget mongers who are importing their wares into the U.S.? One solution is to use semantic SEO to craft pages that are widget-centric. For example, they might create blog entries about the legal challenges of getting widgets through customs. They can then wire their broader digital efforts together with links from social media and email marketing newsletters to drive more interest.
If content is king, be aware quality content is the queen in the powerful chess sense of the term. Quality content dominates the board in SEO. All things being equal between two pages in the same industry, a search engine will send its users to the page with better content. The content avoids typos and complex structures while conveying semantically relevant information.