As an SEO company in Los Angeles, we know more than anyone that staying on top of your SEO game requires a lot of innovation. It requires a lot of brainstorming, and with so many websites vying for a spot on the first page, we must be one step ahead of everyone else at all times.
One way of doing this is by taking advantage of Google’s algorithms. We’re now past the age of the simple keyword search—Google now recognizes topics a user might be interested in and suggests them, even if they hadn’t looked for them specifically. If you continue limiting yourself to keywords, you risk losing potential readers.
But how exactly do we start prioritizing topics over keywords?
1. Get Inspired
When it comes to planning out your site content, you’ll want to come up with a list of topics relating to your business. They have to be broad to allow flexibility with your content.
Once you’ve identified a couple, you need to start conducting typical keyword research for each of those topics. However, don’t limit yourself to standard keywords—make sure to include related keywords as well so you have even more content ideas. Use tools like Soovle, Keywords Everywhere, or Jaaxy to help you out.
Then, take a look at your keywords and all their related words. Imagine what kind of questions a searcher would ask about the topic. Also, feel free to ask other people (especially people that fit into your target audience) what questions they may have about the topic.
2. Know Who Your Competitors Are
Now that you know what your content will be and the various subtopics you can cover, you’ll want to know who your competitors are in the game. If they rank high on search engines and get a lot of traffic, then you’ll want to copy what they’re doing.
Start by using analytical tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot to gain more insight into their performance. Here, you can see how much traffic they’re getting, which of their pages are the most popular and least popular, which of their keywords get the most clicks, and more. Find a pattern that’s easy for you to follow.
Then, start looking at their content and how they’re delivering said content. Do they mostly do articles? Do they have lots of pictures? Do they use a professional tone? Using this data can help you figure out how to market your content to your intended audience.
The idea behind spying on your competitors is doing what they’re doing but doing it better.
3. Consider Intent
Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 completely revolutionized the way people searched for things. Rather than using keywords, they could input questions on Google’s search engines as if starting a conversation.
If you want to create useful content around your topic, you’ll want to understand the intent behind users searching for these topics. A surprisingly simple way of doing this is by going incognito mode and utilizing Google’s autofill features.
Take a look at this screenshot:
As you can see, three simple words were enough to uncover a whole range of questions to be answered. This will help you create and maybe rework any existing content to answer these commonly-asked questions.
4. Structure Your Content Well
Having useful and well-written content isn’t going to matter if Google can’t figure out what your website is about. To help Google crawl through and index your site properly, you need to have a proper site structure.
The best site structure is the pyramid structure, where you have the broadest topic as your homepage and all subsequent categories and subcategories in deeper pages. By organizing your topics well, Google can figure out what the gist of your website is as well as its most important pages.
Just make sure that you have a considerable number of articles for each topic before making a separate category. This ensures readers can move back and forth between interesting articles quickly without always referring to the menu.
And speaking of menus, you’ll also want a proper navigation system that shows both Google and your readers how to get from Point A (homepage) to Point B (article) or any other variation. You can do this with a menu (which people use to find a page quickly), or a breadcrumb trail (which shows where you are on a website and how you got there).
5. Get Creative!
We’ve given you all the pieces thus far and now it’s time to put it all together.
To reiterate, Google’s algorithms have become more intelligent through the years and can now understand conversational tones and the intent behind them. This means that we need to upgrade our content marketing strategy as well—instead of focusing primarily on keywords as we normally do, we need to account for topics and related topics as well. Not only will this increase our visibility on search engines, but it will also give us tons of ideas for useful and interesting content.
However, don’t forget to be technical too—keyword searches are still a ranking factor after all. You want to include a bunch of them here and there to make you discoverable to searchers. At the same time, you also want to have a proper site structure. This lets Google know what your site offers and makes the user experience a lot friendlier since everything is well-organized.
Finally, always track your own performance and make improvements. You should constantly look for ways to be better, even if it means taking a peek at your competitors. You’re going to have an edge over them eventually, and both you and your audience will be very thankful for it.