Content marketing is a popular and effective online marketing strategy, but even if you have the absolute best and most informative content out there, it will do you no good if people can’t find it. That’s where content optimization and Search Engine Optimization come in to make the difference – but just because you are focused on SEO and keywords, doesn’t mean you’re actually optimizing your content. Let’s take a look at the differences between SEO and content optimization, and how you can use them both to create authoritative content that’s easy for your target audience to find.
Topic Modeling: A Basic Framework for Your Content
Years ago, you could get away with doing some basic keyword research with a tool like AdWords Keyword Planner, and building out content based on what people were searching most often, and using phrases with the least amount of competition. But, as Google continues to refine their ranking algorithms to provide better results for their customers, bringing in the use of AI to help improve the results, it’s becoming increasing more important to use topic modeling as your approach to keywords.
As we’ve talked about topic modeling here on the blog in the past, I’m not going to spend a lot of time covering it here in this post. The most important part you need to remember is that when you talk about something on your blog – you need to factor in more than the words and phrases people use to find it – also considering related topics and issues for that core keyword or subject.
If you’re writing about “product profitability” for instance, your content should naturally include words and phrases like: business, strategy, costs, pricing, company, and related topics. Focus less on keyword density and more about covering the topic in depth. It’s necessary to show you’re an expert.
Creating Authoritative Content Everyone Loves
Step One: Determine your content goals and what main keyword your page will focus on. Start with your most important pages.
Step Two: Research. Know who your target audience is, and what they want.
Step Three: Group keywords with similar intent into a single cluster. Write pieces relevant to each cluster.
Search your core term. Look at the top 10 results, and see what topics they address. Identify the searcher’s intent, and create topic around that, building topic clusters with related content. Start with a pillar article that provides a broad overview of the topic, and link to specific articles that cover the topic more in-depth. Cover all the relevant angles.
For instance, if you’re writing a piece on tart cherry extract, Google will show a series of results that discuss the health benefits, where you can buy tart cherry extract, uses and side effects, and so on. When you look at the searches related to tart cherry extract, you’ll see people are looking for: tart cherry extract gout, tart cherry extract side effects, tart cherry extract dosage for gout, and so on.
Screen Shot of a search results page
So, your broad overview piece would cover:
- What tart cherry extract is and where it comes from
- Benefits of tart cherry extract
- Best tart cherry extract supplements
- Tart cherry extract reviews
- Links to pages where you can buy tart cherry supplements
- Links to pages where you can buy other supplements
- Links to pages with content about healthy lifestyle choices
When you use this approach you’re optimizing your content for your end user first, and naturally creating content that will keep the search engines happy. Optimizing your content specifically for the search engines is still necessary when it comes to things like your title tag, meta description, images, and video, but it’s not the main thing you should focus on.
Is the Traditional SEO Approach Still Worth it?
The short answer is yes and no. The SEO tools available on the market today are useful for helping you find those core keywords you want to target, and finding options for related searches you could include in your content as topic modeling for related searches. However, they’re not really an end-to-end solution, so you often need to use more tools to get the job completely done.
Tools like SEMRush and Moz will give you powerful keyword research capability, but they tackle the keyword, rather than the topic itself. They lack semantic tools that help you find the gaps you need to fill to create masterpieces on topics. You’ll need to use other tools, like Article Insights, to help you find the semantic part of what Google and users expect to see in content related to any topic you write about. There are content optimization platforms out there designed to make it all easier for you, but those are often cost prohibitive, and overly technical for people who don’t understand the nuances of content creation and SEO. That’s why we’re here at SEO Inc. to help you.
Between the discussion of how Google is shifting to an AI-first approach and the topic modeling approach to content creation, it’s easy to believe the keyword is becoming obsolete to the process. But, the truth is it’s still relevant to the process, because no matter how complex SEO becomes, we all have to start with that core keyword as our jumping off point for knowing how to tackle everything from a content and competition standpoint.
Think big. Content optimization isn’t always going to help you rank your page as directly as the number of quality back-links you have, but it will definitely help Google and other search engines understand intent, which ultimately helps you create better content. Regardless of SEO, quality content helps you build authority and trust in any niche, and the approach should help improve your rank in addition to the more traditional ranking factors.