What does using semantics meaning?

metadata-Carlos-AblerWhen people come to your content – the content on your website, for example – can they find what they need? One of the best ways to help visitors find the information they consider most useful is to organize it into behind-the-scenes categories.

By categories, I mean more than the kind of categories you might use to organize a blog – say, the boxes you can check in WordPress that enable you to associate your articles with categories you’ve created. Yes, those categories are an example of what I’m talking about (and I will talk more about blog categories before I’m finished here), but, for starters, you need to understand in general what content strategists call semantic categories.

Wait! Don’t run away! If you don’t know what semantic categorization means, you’re not alone. I sometimes have to remind myself. Seriously, do we need all those syllables? Well, the phrase is what it is. I declare it worth wrangling with because it represents an important concept for professional communicators. This concept is not as mysterious as it might seem. In fact, it’s downright cool. And powerful.

So hang in there with me as I break down this concept and give you a peek into how it might help you in your marketing efforts.

Why this article?

Let me back up and tell you why I’m writing this article. It’s the third of six articles, each explaining one element of the following six-part definition. (This often cited definition was crafted by Ann Rockley, author of Managing Enterprise Content and founder of the annual Intelligent Content Conference.)

put-metadata-on-itIntelligent content is content that’s structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.

This article focuses on the definition’s second element: semantic categorization. For expanded descriptions of all these elements and more, see these Content Marketing Institute resources:

What does semantic mean?

semantic means “related to meaning.” Consider, for example, a conference website. For each presenter, we need the same pieces of content: photo, name, business title, bio, session title, and so on. Metadata tags like

and would convey meaning about those pieces of content. These tags – unlike

or

or other HTML tags – tell nothing about how the content looks. Instead,

and tell what the content is about, what the content means. That’s why we call this kind of tag semantic.

Not all metadata tags are semantic. You’ve probably used some nonsemantic metadata tags yourself. The H1 tag, for example, is nonsemantic. An H1 tag tells you (and machines) that a piece of content is a top-level heading. What the H1 tag doesn’t tell you (or machines) is what that content is about or anything else related to the nature – the meaning, the purpose, the subject – of that content. The H1 content could be about peanuts, pythons, or mariachis. It could have been created by Peter, Paul, or Mary.

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