On-page SEO has come a long way in just 5 years. We’ve moved from a scenario which required us to track keyword-use percentages to an era where creating truly amazing content is the only way to get ahead. This is all to the good, as trying to track keyword densities and limit stop words created content that was dry, stilted, and boring more often than not.
Yet good content alone isn’t enough-we still need to do things to help search engines understand the experience we are delivering to customers. These are:
-Uncovering buyer intent.
-Retrofitting content until we’re sure it’s registering as relevant.
-Relying on the strength of the content, not aggressive link building campaigns, to help the content rank.
-Continuing to associate the brands under our care with specific topic areas that are relevant to their customers.
Making it happen is simple, but it isn’t always easy.
Uncovering Buyer Intent
Keyword research continues to remain relevant as we routinely use it to pinpoint buyer intent. Pinpointing buyer intent is simply a matter of looking at the most popular keywords and asking yourself what kinds of information the buyer is looking for when they search those keywords. We then craft content around those questions and needs. However, if you’re not bringing your analytical and imaginative A-game to the process it would be all too easy to simply spew out a keyword list and miss the reasons behind the searches. Why did someone bother to take the time to type those specific words into a search box?
We also take a look at related topics and keywords, since we know Google’s algorithm tracks both metrics. We can use all of this information to create a list of topic ideas that we can then craft into interesting, engaging web pages.
Remember to Retrofit
It’s easier to write a great piece of content and then tweak that content to match SEO requirements than it is to stare at a bunch of keywords and try to create content around them. Just don’t overdo it. We’re looking for the natural use of keywords that make sense. If you can’t work the keyword into the topic naturally, let it be.
However, don’t miss opportunities, either: You might be able to target certain keywords or related keywords with sidebars or additional paragraphs. Really think about how each keyword will fit into the web page as a whole in order to make sure it delivers a fantastic customer experience.
Don’t Rely on Link Building
Backlinks are important, but they won’t save a mediocre piece of content that doesn’t get the job done. Instead, it might be smarter to focus on making sure the content is rich-snippet friendly, and that it’s prepared to delight the user. This may mean adding bullet points, tweaking the top paragraphs to give a broad overview of the subject matter that answers buyer intent right away, and taking other measures to make sure the content is friendly to Google’s top-of-the-page featured content options.
As it stands, it’s easier to build quality links for quality pages anyway. Websites are more cautious about the content they allow onto their own sites, as linking to low-quality content can bring their own rankings down. High-PR sites are bombarded with outreach every single day, all so marketers can score a single link. If your content isn’t worth a site owner’s time you’re never going to get the link anyway.
Google is starting to associate brands with areas of topic expertise. This works in our favor, so long as we continue to work on content relevant to the brand, but it does mean that there will be an uphill struggle if any of our clients want to break into new subject areas, as they might when launching new products or services. Focused campaigns of content publishing and promotion is the only way to do this.
This is also an invitation for us to evaluate how well we’ve done at ensuring the brands under our care are doing at ranking as authorities for the key topics that matter to their customers.
The Bottom Line
You can assume Google will continue to become even smarter about delivering content which matches a user’s true intent. If a piece of content doesn’t truly serve the customer it needs to go…it’s a dead weight and a bounce risk that will hurt our clients in the long run. It’s better to create one really good web page that truly answers buyer intent than 10 web pages that send customers running for the hills.