SEO: What You Don't Know Could Be Hurting Your Business

SEO: What You Don't Know Could Be Hurting Your Business

Let's face it—when searching for information online, most consumers probably won't scroll beyond the first few sites listed at the top of their search engine results. So, when your digital marketing goal is to get your company's website, blogs, and other content found online, it's a constant battle to get your company to the top of the search list.

According to a 2020 HubSpot report, around 55 percent of marketers identify search engine optimization (SEO) and growing their online presence as top marketing priorities for their companies.

Long gone are the days when using the same keywords over and over in your online content put you at the top of online searches. Cramming a bunch of keywords into one page on your website just won't produce the results you're expecting anymore. In fact, SEO tricks like "keyword stuffing" can hurt rather than help your search rankings. Now, search engines consider much more—including links, relevant keyword strings, website content, page authority, and site functionality—when ranking sites for certain search terms.

Back in 2017, HubSpot coined the phrases "topic cluster" and "pillar page," but they're more commonly known as landing pages and subpages. Of course, you don't need to use HubSpot to put this methodology to work for your business.

Organizing your site into "topic clusters" can help boost your online authority. These groups of pages consist of:

  1. A landing page that provides information about a high-level topic with a high search volume
  2. A "cluster" of subpages focused on related keyword strings with lower search volumes that link back to the landing page

Find out more about this strategy and why it works below.

Search engines have become more "human."

Search engines have changed, and so have the ways people search for information online. While they used to require specific search terms, search engines today can use lots of data to make assumptions about what a person is searching for.

Just be careful not to entice the reader and then not fulfill your end of the bargain. If you've convinced them to continue reading, make sure you follow through and provide accurate content that's valuable to them. Nobody likes being tricked.

For example, a few years ago you may have searched for "good restaurants in Rockford" and gotten a complete list of restaurants with decent ratings in the greater Rockford area. Now, you can search for "good restaurants near me" and get a list of top-rated restaurants that are currently open and located within half a mile of your location. You'll probably even get suggestions for other restaurants you might like that are similar to places you've ordered from in the past.

Search engines can factor in context—including time of day, location, and what type of device you're using—and your previous searches to determine the best results for your search terms. For marketers, this means shifting the focus away from overusing keywords and on to creating a collection of pages with useful information instead.

Use your content to establish trust and authority.

SEO has evolved to elevate content based on demonstrated knowledge rather than on the ability to include lots of keywords in one place. So, it's important that you adapt your content to build your brand's authority and create trust by delivering content that proves not only that you know what you're talking about, but also that you're an expert on that topic. Basically, the more authority your site has regarding a specific keyword or keyword phrase, the higher it will rank in those search results. And the best way to build authority is to use those keywords strategically on your website.

Groups of pages related to a certain topic build online authority by linking several subpages containing relevant information to a single landing page. The landing page covers a high-level topic in depth. This page links to other pages that cover important related keywords that come from keyword strings, which are the commonly searched phrases you want to rank for. As a result, you get several pages that inform the overarching topic. You should also use links to credible external sites in your subpages to help build authority. Combined with links to your own internal pages, you're connecting that authority across various pages throughout your website.

Because high-level keywords will have higher search volumes, your competitors will probably also be trying to rank for those keywords. So, your landing page probably won't rank very high on its own. But pages focused on keywords with lower search volumes are much more focused, so they'll rank higher for those search terms in Google and drive traffic to those pages. By linking those additional pages that inform your core topic to your landing page, the credibility you build will boost your search ranking for those keywords and drive more traffic to your site. Plus, it helps people navigate through your content more easily.

Ultimately, you can't forget that you're appealing to humans and search engines. You should ensure your customers have a positive experience with your content after they find it using search engines. And to do that, you also need to boost your ranking in order to be findable in the first place.

Find topic ideas in your keywords and existing content.

We've already mentioned that cramming your website pages with high-level keywords won't give you the results you're looking for when it comes to SEO. But don't throw out that handy list of keywords just yet. You can use those keywords to form core topics for your landing pages as well as subtopics for your subpages. Your keywords and keyword strings can be used to create all kinds of content for your site, from blog posts to videos to social media posts to infographics.

Your keywords may be helpful for finding topics to write about, but they're not your only tool for creating successful online marketing content that achieves your goal of becoming a trustworthy source of information.

Look for opportunities to repurpose the content you already have. The time and effort your company has put into researching and creating your website content shouldn't go to waste. Repurposing content adds keyword strings to your site in more than one place, which can help boost your search ranking if done correctly. Also, in a Google search, a searched phrase may pop up in one of your Facebook posts, a blog, and your homepage. You can reuse content "nuggets" or snippets of existing information to help develop new content. For example, with a little tweaking, content from white papers, brochures, and satisfied customer reviews can be reused in social posts or blogs. Just make sure you don't copy your content word for word across multiple pages. With Google, it's a balancing act; you want the keyword strings to appear in multiple pages to build authority, but if you're copying content to the exact letter, you're going to get dinged for it.

Google's auto search results are also a useful resource that you may not have thought to use before. Search for different keywords and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find a list of suggested searches based on similar searches others have performed in the past. This can help you get an idea of what else your customers are searching for, so you can tailor your content to reflect what your customers want to find on your website.

You should also take a look at what your competition is doing. They may feature content on their website that can give you ideas for what to feature on yours. If a competitor has a lot of useful information about a certain topic on their website, it may be time to add more content about the same topic to your own site. This method is also helpful for differentiating your business because it gives you the opportunity to publish information that your competitors haven't.

Measure your success.

Measuring the effectiveness of your groups of web pages helps you determine if the content you've provided adequately covers the topics you want to rank for. If not, you might try developing additional pages or revising existing ones to cover information that may be missing. Create your content with SMART goals in mind, and measure whether or not you achieve those goals using analytics tools or your own method of tracking the success of your content. Analyze these measurements frequently to get an idea of what's working and what's not. This will help you determine areas that may need revisions or improvements.

All in all, when it comes to getting the digital marketing content you need to boost your company's ranking on search engines, it's important to avoid taking the easy route—cramming as many keywords as possible into your content—just to save time. Search engines are ranking based on more than the number of times you use a certain keyword. By creating more pages with more content, you're not only building a credible brand reputation among your customers; you're also telling search engines to place your website higher in search results because you're the expert people should turn to for valuable information in your industry.

Robin Chandler

Robin Chandler

Marketing Coordinator & Copywriter
Cain & Company logo

685 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107

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