semantic search

Semantic search – a new way of searching

If you are a bit familiar with SEO and keyword analysis, you often see on websites how text writers try to influence the Google algorithm by repeating popular keywords in the same combination (I can’t deny being guilty of that myself!). Because people often search without Articles and perfect sentence structure, you often encounter crooked sentences in SEO texts. With semantic search, the era of this form of copywriting comes to an end. What is the semantic search and how should we write texts for search engines?

Ask Jeeves

In 1996 Ask Jeeves was a search engine that was far ahead of its time. Instead of cryptic search terms where a content search on the internet was more of a puzzle, you could ask Jeeves questions in everyday language. While in AltaVista or Lycos, for example, you had to search for “cheap Bali tickets”, you could type “I want to buy cheap flights to Bali” at Jeeves. Although the second search is longer, you can type in normal spoken language instead of cryptic computer language. Ask Jeeves was later renamed Particularly due to the annoying browser toolbar that often appeared unsolicited in the browser, the rating for this search engine has decreased rapidly. Yet Ask Jeeves showed the future of searching on the internet 20 years ago. Google had the same ambitions but would only process this much later in their search algorithm.

Google Hummingbird update

In 2013 Google’s search algorithm was radically adjusted with the Thunderbird update. Instead of displaying search results based on specific search terms, Google was able to better analyze natural speech and display more relevant results. The primary benefit lay with the person who was searching, it is no longer necessary to enter a search that exactly matches a product or service.

Semantic search

semantic searchThis way of searching goes beyond just the order of words, synonyms are also included in the search results. If you search for “jeans”, results for “jeans” also appear. Google advises providers to take this into account and to set up their websites in this way of ranking. “Keyword spamming”, the excessive and/or irrelevant use of popular keywords, has been punished by Google for a long time. Now the focus is more than ever on the quality of the content. For copywriters this advantage offers, it is no longer necessary to repeat the same keywords. For websites that are filled with “old-fashioned” SEO content, there is work to be done. Unfortunately, many SEO “experts” seem to stick to the old way of working, and that can break up the customers.

Search with your voice

Ask Jeeves was particularly ahead of his time because searching with speech was not yet possible. Semantically searching or entering natural searches sometimes takes more time than typing in a few keywords. But speech recognition has become better and better. Google, Amazon, and Apple can today (reasonably) well understood consumers. In addition to computers and mobile devices, this technology is also used in smart speakers that act as a personal assistant. Amazon is a leader there with Alexa, you can ask the assistant for the weather forecast. It is also possible to order an umbrella directly. You can communicate with Alexa as easily as with your own family, sometimes it is even easier because speech assistants always listen. The impact on privacy is a topic for another blog article


Semantic search offers benefits to the consumer; it makes searching online easier than ever. Entrepreneurs can also benefit from this because SEO optimization focuses more and more on the content, not just on a static algorithm. Keep this in mind with your online marketing strategy by matching your way of communicating with customers, not just software.