The Difference Between Semantic Search and Semantic Web

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Small businesses have been hearing a lot lately about the semantic web, and how that of course comes with semantic search, which then has to come with semantic SEO. So to make a long story short, if you don’t understand what the term “semantic” means in these contexts, you’ve got some work to do.

Fortunately, understanding semantics in relation to the web is actually quite simple, and for many these is already a part of your daily routine. It isn’t a new concept, just one that has recently gained some traction.

How the Terms Semantic Web and Semantic Search Differ and Why It Matters

Being able to understand how these terms differ is important because it can help you better understand how search works and how you can make sure your information is getting in front of a relevant audience. Below explains the differences between these two terms that are often mistakenly meshed into one:

Semantic Web

The whole idea here is to teach searchers about understanding the whole content of a SERP as opposed to just the structure of search engines like Google. Below is the definition according to Cambridge Semantics:

  • The Semantic Web is a set of technologies for representing, storing, and querying information. Although these technologies can be used to store textual data, they typically are used to store smaller bits of data.

Essentially, the semantic web will include things like numbers and dates in order to be able to answer a very complex question. Semantic search focuses on the text, but the semantic web focuses on pulling data from multiple sources and multiple formats.

Another way to look at it: The semantic web is not going to store one page as just one page. Instead, it works to take each tiny detail on the page and pull those tiny details off every page to find one cohesive answer.

Semantic Search

The idea with this terminology is to offer more relevant results without limiting searches to just keywords (traditional Google search would be called “keyword search” as opposed to a semantic search). The below definition puts it into simple terms:

  • Semantic search is the process of typing something into a search engine and getting more results than just those that feature the exact keyword you typed into the search box. Semantic search will take into account the context and meaning of your search terms. It’s about understanding the assumptions that the searcher is making when typing in that search query.

For example, if you type in the word “Blackhawks” into your search bar you don’t just want to get listings that have the word “Blackhawks” in them. A semantic search will return listings about the Native American tribe as well as the Chicago hockey. You will also get supporting terms like “hockey lessons” and “Stanley Cup,” even if they never mention anything about the Blackhawks exactly.

So what is Semantic SEO? Of course, businesses can’t forget about semantic SEO. This is simply a way of explaining the strategies you would use to optimize your website for semantic search. In short, it works the same way keyword-based SEO works, except you should be researching more than just keywords. You want to look for supporting terms, modifiers, and synonyms for the terms you have in mind, and then use those in your context, h1 and/or h2 tags, and your title.

Do you feel that the concept of semantic search and the semantic web are only going to grow in popularity? Have you done anything to change your strategies because of these ideas? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: semanticweb.com

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Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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