Today’s Ask SEO the question comes from Christian from the UK. Christian asks:

Is there a contextual way to handle a search so that it looks blank [in this case, “what”] in question (e.g. vegan is meat what is garlic)?

Words mean things.

The professor at the School of Journalism constantly repeated this sentence to me and my classmates when our writing was not clear or we used the wrong word to describe the situation.

The same goes for Google, Bing, and all the other big ones search engines.

But what the words mean to a robot changes in many cases day by day.


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Context means things

Google increasingly understands the context of the content it crawls.

We no longer live in a world where the exact phrase must appear on the page in order to appear in the SERP search results for that query.

Of course, it doesn’t matter that the content contains an exact sentence.

I will define long tail keyword Phrases that may not see a large number of searches individually, but together can generate significant traffic.

Long tail keyword phrases also typically have a high buying intent.

After all, if you’re looking for something very special and then you find it – you’re probably going to buy it – or fill out a form for a service case.


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But again, these days you can place long tail keyword phrases creating quality content which deals with a general topic that answers a questionnaire.

Google gets you – mostly

There are many places you can read about Google’s growing ability to semantically understand the context of a site.

SEO experts discuss how Google makes it ad nauseum.

The flavor of the month is called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM.

According to Google, MUM is 1000 times more effective than the last SEO obsession, two-way coding presentations from transformers or BERT.

BERT was part of what is called RankBrain, which is a bit of a black box, and I’m really not sure if we still use the term RankBrain.

It is complicated.

But if you’re so inclined, there are literally hundreds of blog posts and articles speculating on how these techniques work to place the millions of completely unique queries that are asked every day.

And it’s important to understand how Google views the content you create.

But even if you are a gift from God to understand algorithms, don’t expect these techniques to work quite the opposite.

I have worked with some of the smartest people on the planet, and even with advanced mathematical analysis, we have never been absolutely sure that our assumptions are correct.


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Enter the best information and you are probably covered

The best option is to understand topics of interest to your audience and write the best answer to their questions.

With a little effort, the best answers tend to rise to the top – despite the fact that many people whose answers may or may not be the best – complain about Google’s results as shit.

There are definitely anomalies and poor results.

For the most part, Google understands it correctly.

So to answer the question, if you want to appear as the final answer to the word “vegan is meat like garlic”, you should write a page that answers “what”.


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It wouldn’t hurt if this sentence was also in the content – but don’t overdo it.

If I were to write this copy, I would find several examples and set the keyword phrase to a title, adding multiple items for “what”.

No schema or code tells Google about the relationship.

But don’t worry, Google is pretty good at figuring out these relationships alone.

More resources:


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Editor’s Note: Ask SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by the best SEO experts in the industry, selected by hand by the Search Engine Journal. Do you have any questions about SEO? Fill the form. You may see your answer in the next #AskanSEO message!


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