The semantic cocoon is a well-known technique for the natural referencing of a website. Creating a semantic cocoon consists of strengthening the internal mesh between semantically similar content, in order to improve the overall SEO performance of the website or to raise a specific page in the results of search engines. In any case, the semantic cocoon is a logical model for designing the architecture of a site: when developing the website, the semantic cocoon system guides the organization of content in such a way as to conform to the associative path of the Internet user’s thoughts.
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Definition of the semantic cocoon
The semantic cocoon designates the organization of the site’s content into parent pages, sibling pages and child pages, linked together in a relevant way by means of internal networking. The link is based on semantics: the concepts that are close to each other in terms of meaning deserve to be enriched from each other, to serve the interests of the Internet user in search of information or in search of a product or service to buy.
Example of a semantic cocoon: an e-commerce site sells all types of shoes. The company is interested in Internet users who are looking for running shoes: a semantic cocoon dedicated to this request is created. The expert assumes that people who want to buy sneakers also want advice on how to choose their new pair, and may also be looking for running training plans. It is then a question of linking them:
- A target page, or pillar page, which features the sneaker catalog.
- The intermediate pages that distinguish sneakers for men and women, or for beginners and for confirmed.
- The final pages that correspond to the product sheets.
- Sister pages that offer shopping tips and training plans.
If the Internet user goes to a beginner’s trainer product page, the page offers a redirect link to the beginner’s training plan page, or vice versa. The semantic cocoon thus makes it possible to enrich and streamline the user experience. The site provides a value-added service for the Internet user, and the search engine values this effort.
Origin and interest of the semantic cocoon
Origin of the semantic cocoon
Positioning yourself at the top of the search engine results page, for a specific query, is a major challenge for the company. Gaining places indeed increases the incoming traffic on its site: not only does the company strengthen its notoriety, but it also increases its conversion rate. Several techniques make it possible to improve its rank on Google, including natural referencing, which generally consists in proposing a site which seduces by its graphics, its ergonomics and its editorial line. It is necessary to seduce the search engine, and for that it is necessary that the site proves to be useful to the Internet user. To achieve this, it is therefore necessary to put yourself in the place of the target Internet user in order to propose an appropriate design, structure and content.
It is on the basis of this observation that Laurent Bourrelly popularizes the concept of semantic cocoon, in line with the siloing technique. The semantic cocoon improves natural referencing because it is based on the advanced analysis of the intellectual path of the Internet user and his needs to structure the site. When the Internet user is on the site, he easily and immediately finds what he is looking for, and even more. He leaves satisfied, a satisfaction that the search engine is able to measure through indicators such as the bounce rate. And to “reward” the site, Google gradually makes it gain places in the search results.
Note that the technique improves natural referencing also because the semantic cocoon gives weight to the site, thanks to its dense internal mesh. The search engine records a volume of information provided on the theme, and finds that the useful pages are linked together in a coherent manner. The semantic cocoon offers the search engine an overview of the subject, which seems to be dealt with in a reliable and exhaustive manner.
What is the advantage of the semantic cocoon?
Obvious advantage of the semantic cocoon: keeping the Internet user on the site longer, insofar as he is effectively encouraged to navigate from page to page as his reflection progresses. But the major advantage of the semantic cocoon lies in the long-term effectiveness of this SEO technique. The architecture of the site is designed on the basis of the logic of the Internet user, the insertion of internal links is a matter of common sense, so as to offer an optimal user experience.
SEO techniques evolve along with search engine algorithms. At one time, keyword density was the key to pleasing Google; this era is over: Google is now committed to providing a high value-added service to the Internet user, the search engine wants to provide precise answers to its queries. Under these conditions, building a site on the Internet user’s thought process is consistent with Google rules. This makes the semantic cocoon a profitable SEO exercise in the long term.
In practice, the semantic cocoon is built in 4 stages.
- Identify the Internet user’s requests on a subject, and anticipate related requests, then classify them by family. Example on the subject of electric cars: the Internet user searches for “best electric car”, “cheap electric car”, “used electric car”; it will also potentially search for “electric car financial aid” and “electric car charging stations”.
- Draw the tree structure of the site based on the preliminary work. In the example: it is appropriate to set up a catalog page of electric car models, product pages, a page on state aid and a page on vehicle charging methods.
- Insert internal links. In the example: link the product page to the help page, and link the help page to the catalog page, to enrich navigation. The Internet user who consults a product page will undoubtedly be interested in consulting the help before buying; conversely, an Internet user who becomes aware of the aids will perhaps be convinced to buy from the catalog of models.
- Optimize the content of each page. Inserting tags, regularly updating information or even working on the design of the page help to strengthen the semantic cocoon.
Regardless of the page on which the Internet user is, he easily accesses all the other content on the same subject, the pages push each other.
4 tools to analyze your semantic cocoon
Yourtext.Guru tool provides web writing and SEO support service. Among the features offered: the design and analysis of semantic cocoons. Yourtext.Guru suggests themes to create a semantic cocoon, tests existing content to identify their compatibility in order to create a relevant internal mesh, and calculates the percentage of proximity between the articles of a semantic cocoon to evaluate its performance. This paying tool constitutes a global solution, which includes the functionalities related to semantic cocoons, for a subscription from 80 € HT per month.
SEOQuantum is a semantic analysis and optimization tool. From a keyword, the platform generates semantic reports and guides the design of semantic cocoons by automating their tree structure. SEOQuantum also offers to optimize content to increase its visibility. This paying tool is accessible from €89 excluding VAT per month.
The cocon.se tool proposes to visualize the architecture of the website, in order to identify meshing errors and to improve the semantic cocoons. Cocon.se offers several subscription formulas starting at €20 excluding tax per month, and a no-obligation payment system.
The Visibilis semantic analysis tool is an online solution for optimizing the internal linking of the website and creating semantic cocoons. The service is available from €25 excluding tax per month.
Difference Between Semantic Cocoon and Thematic Groups
The semantic cocoon is considered an evolution of the siloing technique, which uses the notion of thematic groups. While the thematic groups are based on an organization that attaches to a theoretical logic, the semantic cocoon is based on an organization that attaches to the logic of the Internet user.
Illustration of the difference between semantic cocoon and thematic groups, with a home service company:
- Thematic groups of the site: a first thematic group is formed for the company’s services; the pillar page lists all the services, then child pages offer a detailed description of each service. A second thematic group is formed on the subject of price: it includes a prices page, a quote request page and a page on the tax credit.
- Semantic cocoons of the site: assuming that the Internet user is looking for either a gardening service or a childcare service, 2 semantic cocoons are created. The first semantic cocoon on gardening links a descriptive page, a prices page and a tax credit calculation page, the 3 focused on the gardening service; the second semantic cocoon on childcare similarly links a descriptive page, a rates page and a page for calculating the tax credit, all 3 focusing on the childcare service. When the Internet user accesses a page of the gardening cocoon, he is retained in the cocoon thanks to the internal mesh, which promotes prolonged browsing.
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