Remember when stuffing a few keywords onto the pages of your site was all you needed to rank well in the search engines? Nowadays it’s called keyword stuffing – black hat – and it’ll get you banned from the rankings.
Those were simpler times. You didn’t have to think much about the content you wrote. Whip up a few words, scatter a few thoughts in a few paragraphs, and you were ready to go. Add your keyword again and again, and you’d do pretty well.
But you and I have both read those “articles” – I use that term loosely. Because most of that content made little sense to you and me. Informative? Nope. They had little to say.
That’s why Google started slapping them down. That’s why that strategy no longer works.
It’s 2018. If you’re going to produce content for your site today, and you want to benefit from SEO in the process, you better have a new strategy in mind.
Choosing Your Topic/Keyword
The first step is to understand that less is more. Think narrow instead of wide.
While there’s nothing new about content writing for a specific keyword, what is important is the way Google looks at it.
If you are in the water heater business, for instance, repair might be your moneymaker. Your pages may be filled with stories about repairing water heaters. But what about the word “fix”? With AI, Google can pick up on that and give you the credit you’re due. But only if your copy is on target. Only if your copy is detailed enough to give Google what it desires.
Know Your Audience
It’s also important to understand your audience and their demographics. A twenty-something is going to search differently than a fifty-something. If you’re trying to reach a twenty-something, price may be everything. Whereas a fifty-something may care more about the benefits; price may be a moot point. Sure, they want a good deal. But they’re willing to pay more if they feel good about the decision they’ve made.
This is where it pays to dig deep into your customers’ preferences. And if you don’t know how to do that, it’s important to work with a company that does. Your customers might not always be able to tell you. But by using technology, we can dig and find out exactly how they search.
Give ‘em What They Want
Think for a moment about the words you use most frequently when performing your own searches. Chances are you type in things like:
- The best …
- How to …
- List-friendly words – like “tips” or “steps”
- The Year – best vacation spots 2018
- How To Fix A Water Heater
- 8 Steps To Water Heater Repair
- The Most Reliable Water Heaters 2018
Each of these gives content a focus. They are specific in what they offer a reader. And they would rank better than the average piece of content … providing you’re monitoring your SEO tactics correctly.
In order to rank a page, Google adds up every word on the page in order to give it weight. This process is known as TF-IDF, or term frequency-inverse document frequency. It’s a process used to give weight to what information is shown in the searches.
Term frequency refers to how often a word is found on a page. Inverse document frequency refers to how often the word is used within a larger universe – a series of documents or databases.
Term frequency could help determine to rank your content high for a key phrase like “water heater repair,” while giving less weight to “the best” or “8 steps” because of IDF. It’s a way of comparing your content with your competition. It’s a way of adding importance to the keywords that matter most.
Why is this important? This may lead you to believe once again that keyword stuffing is good. But remember, Google has been building their ranking strategy for years. They watch not only for how many times a keyword is used, but also for the placement.
If you randomly insert keywords here and there just to have them there, Google will find them too. If you read something and think “this doesn’t make sense,” Google knows it too. While it’s not a perfect science … yet, it’s changing all the time. And the beauty behind good content is it can sit online and work for you for years at a time.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Let’s Talk Mobile
You can’t talk SEO content in 2018 without discussing mobile. In truth, mobile is the way of the future. We’re reaching a point where people spend far more time on their phones and tablets than they do sitting behind a desk. That trend isn’t going to change. However, that doesn’t mean desktops are going away. It just means that there are distinct differences depending on the platform you’re using. And that means you better be thinking about how your content is used on mobile as well as the more traditional desktop.
Let’s start with intent. What if you type “best Mexican restaurant Seattle” from your desktop; what’s the intent? How does it change if you type the same phrase from your smartphone?
With the first, you might be planning a night out with friends … later in the week. The quickness of the search may or may not be there. But with mobile, you’re probably out and about. Finding a great place may be at the top of your mind because you’re hungry. And the search results are what steers your direction.
Can that impact your content? Of course. Depending on your business, your content can be created with speed in mind. What will people search for in the beginning phases of research? What will they search for when they’re ready to make their decision?
The words may vary slightly. But by thinking ahead and planning out your content for exactly what your customer is thinking, you’ll be there for them every step of the way.
Remember, content is a journey, not an ending point. What you create today adds up to create a dynamic website that will help you months, years into the future. Are you willing to play?