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Forget Keywords, Rank with Topics in 2020
Author: Bizzman; Published on: January 27, 2020
As anybody involved in SEO for some time can attest, keywords have always been an essential factor in determining the success or failure of these efforts. Which is why conversations regarding SEO significantly revolve around keywords and researching them.
While keywords are indeed important determinants of a website’s visibility, it no longer plays as much of a crucial role in it as it used to. The combination of novel ways of online searches and regular frequent updates to search algorithms (the latest being the Google BERT update) have ensured that a website will be more visible and therefore be able to attract more customers only if they are more human-centric rather than search engine crawler-centric. Today digital marketing has begun to focus more on content marketing, and with the wide variety of content available today, keywords are being increasingly relegated to a supporting role in SEO Techniques.
At this juncture, the solution to rank better on SERPs is to shift the focus from ‘keywords’ to ‘topics’. Allow us to elaborate.
How are ‘keywords’ and ‘topics’ different?
Since this is the first question that comes to mind, we’ll address this first.
‘Keywords’ refer to specific words or phrases associated with your business which are commonly used terms for online searches. Incorporating these in your website and articles allows search engines to determine what you want your business to be known and rank for.
‘Topic’ is a much broader aspect than mere search phrases, it refers to the actual content of a website or article. It thus identifies exactly what your site or article is about, and is thus a much clearer indicator of your business and website than keywords. Additionally, ‘topics’ apply to more than just textual content while ‘keywords’ don’t; you cannot incorporate keywords inside a video, for example, but no matter where it is played, the video must have a topic.
Thus, with the aforementioned human-centric approach being adopted by search engines, the more holistic and comprehensive ‘topic research’ has become more rewarding in terms of SEO than its younger cousin ‘keyword research’.
How to rank better using ‘topics’ over ‘keywords’?
Answering this question requires a slightly better understanding of what topics can be.
Topics, like keywords, can be one or more relevant words or phrases belonging to different stages of your buyer’s journey, describing what your content is about in a simple, easy to read format. As the various types of content, you create for different consumers, your topics will also be of various different kinds, and will need some research and strategizing.
Highlighted below are a few techniques by which you can perform thorough research for topics, thereby helping you to create more engaging content and drive higher traffic to your site.
The first thing to do while building and optimizing your website is to plan and chalk out the aspects you want your site to rank for. Namely, topics.
Acquire a holistic view of your services and identify a few top-level topics to focus on. Follow the standard procedure for keyword research thereafter, but this time, incorporate more search terms that are semantically relevant in your research apart from the main keywords. To do this, research on the areas in the immediate vicinity of your focus keywords that can help satisfy consumer needs. Ask yourself what questions people may have regarding your area of focus, and if possible, go down to the field and ask them directly.
Once you have narrowed down the topic ideas for your content, look at other players in the same domain, namely, your competitors.
Their performing well is an indication of the fact that they are doing it right. Run their website through one of many analytic tools available to determine when and how they have performed over an extended period of time, and you’ll get an idea of whether they are consistent. You’ll also be able to determine how they have been able to maintain this consistency. Pay close attention to how their website and content are structured, as well as when, where, and how they deliver content.
Don’t copy what they do, use this information as a blueprint and guide for your own site. What we are advising is for you to understand what your competition does, and then do it better.
We’ve already talked about the increasingly human-oriented approach being adopted by search engines. With this constant evolution, it has become all the more important to understand the actual intent of a search and develop content accordingly.
There are various ways to do this, including a large array of tools available at your disposal. One of the simplest and quickest ways to identify the intent of a search query is to search for the term yourself in an incognito window. This helps you to determine the content that needs to be created or reworked to have it fall within the ambit of the search.
Your task does not end at simply researching a topic and creating content on it, it is also essential to organize and structure the content on your site and other platforms in a way that can be comprehended by crawler bots, as well as establish your authority on that particular topic. Create more relevant content based on a subject regularly, and search engines will take it as a clear sign of your authority.
Another technique is to use breadcrumbs: small pieces of codes and interlinks that show the flow of information around your site. Breadcrumbs help users as well as crawler bots to navigate around your website from a point A to a point B. They also allow you to shift the website structure around without having to change the URLs, which would have otherwise been fatal for your SEO efforts.
All Set to Shine
Now that all your ducks are in a row, it is time to implement what you have learned. Sit and discuss with your content team to review and strategize to chalk out a long term plan. This will help them realize the end goal and create high-impact content to get there.
Remember, meaningful content is no longer about word count, but about how well you can satisfy a user’s query. Quality over quantity.
A well-researched set of topics and creating content on them consistently, combined with just the right amount of keywords can take your SEO game to the next level soon, far beyond the reach of the competition.