Developing an engaging content strategy for SEO that captures the attention of Google’s crawlers is important. But content that engrosses users and keeps them on your website should be a key component in your master plan to achieve the holy grail – a strong user experience that brings rich value!
Google’s helpful content update regards people-first content as the benchmark that helps achieve strong rankings and increases visibility. A content strategy is the best foundation that helps reach those goals. Anybody can upload content to a website. But optimising it well helps to keep Google happy and strengthens your website’s organic reach, boosting traffic and conversions!
Putting together a killer content strategy for SEO is a gradual process. It takes time, in-depth research and frequent evaluation to determine the usefulness and relevance of the content for users. Our guide below tells you how to refine your content strategy and boost your site’s SEO.
Creating SEO content for commercial pages to convert
To maximise the potential of your eCommerce, an SEO-friendly website is key. Commercial pages that hold value are essential. It is likely the area of your website that makes or breaks the level of traffic and number of conversions. Before users get to the point of conversion, pages on your website must be optimised for SEO. There are millions of eCommerce websites online, but many of them don’t hold much weight when it comes to SEO. Here are a few tips on how to set yourself apart from your competitors.
How to expand your FAQs
The importance of FAQs increases with every passing year. Google continues to tweak its algorithm to prioritise content designed with the user in mind. FAQs allow you to make real inroads and take full advantage. You could upload a few questions relevant to your target audience, but Google is smarter than that. It already knows exactly what users are looking for when researching your niche.
FAQs must be optimised for the user experience, contain relevant keywords, and be correctly marked with structured data. You have to consider the main function of an FAQ section. Its main purpose is to answer questions and provide relevant solutions for users. If your website doesn’t provide that, users will leave the page, and Google won’t consider your FAQs worthy of high rankings. This increases the bounce rate of your site, which is one of the rare things you don’t want to increase!
So, how can you solve this? Well, research is the only place to start. Think about your niche and the related keywords around it. What might your users want to discover when looking up your website and products?
Providing clear and concise answers that benefit the user is the best approach. But, there are still additional inclusions that will best serve your FAQ strategy. Formatting your pages to improve the user experience and ensure your page is marked up with FAQ schema creates the best chance of Google seeing your content and rewarding it with rankings. You can add FAQ structured data schema to the head of your HTML and earn extra credits in the SERPs. This can result in rich snippets, a much sought-after target that brings with it great rewards for rankings and visibility.
Integrating relevant keywords is the next piece of the puzzle…
Choosing keywords that work for your business
The keyword research conducted before anything is written defines every good content strategy. In-depth keyword research is the bedrock for relevant content. Developing copy that doesn’t reflect the needs and wants of users is of no use, and to target users and Google’s crawlers effectively, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords.
This applies to FAQs too, as you can embed relevant keywords into the title tags and meta descriptions of an FAQ page to help Google understand what the page is about. Think about users and where they are in the conversion funnel. Keyword intent is crucial to this, and users who use commercial keyword intent when searching should be prioritised in your keyword and content strategy.
Keywords are a fundamental part of SEO success. Gathering research using handy tools like Ahrefs and using the ‘People also ask (PAA)’ function on Google is a great way to gain insight into what topics and solutions people are searching for. For further reading on how to conduct keyword research and why – check out our blog on keyword relevance.
The importance of having a strong brand TOV
A brand’s tone of voice is what sets them apart. All brands have one and are etched into their marketing fabric. For SEO, tone of voice is a more prominent factor than it perhaps once was. Whilst the TOV of a brand and keyword rankings don’t have a direct correlation, the trustworthiness and expertise a brand provides lend themselves to a greater authority. If Google recognises your website and brand as trustworthy and relevant, then it will reward such authority with greater visibility.
Equally, if a user is captivated by your content, and stays on your website for longer, this is the perfect tonic for your site’s SEO. TOV contributes to this through consistency, engagement, trust and expertise. Blend these factors together correctly and your site will start to soar through the SERPs!
Creating impactful SEO blog content
The most popular form of content online is blog content. Most websites now have a blog section, with helpful resources that target users and provide solutions. Optimising blog content for SEO is a must – millions of blogs are uploaded online and have zero exposure, which isn’t much use for people conducting searches or for Google’s crawlers.
Blogs need to tell the user something valuable, as Google has the intelligence to scour the web and reward blogs that provide compelling answers to search queries. Content strategies should reflect the needs of the user, and there is an optimal approach you can take to enhance the content you publish.
The benefits of pillar and cluster topics
Pillars and clusters are one of the best content approaches to drive rankings and help strengthen a website’s user-friendliness. A pillar page is a dedicated page of content on a specific topic. Stemming from the pillar page is a series of cluster pages, with related themes that link back to the main page.
So, what’s the aim of this? Does this help with SEO? The answer is, absolutely! Google looks for content that offers more than keyword-loaded pages. Semantic search, synonyms, and detailed, useful answers to search queries are all wider elements that benefit the on-page experience for users.
Developing a strong pillar page is the first step to achieving this. Generally, the pillar page will focus on a broad keyword term and the topic clusters will target long-tailed keywords or semantic terms relevant to the broad keyword.
To be successful, a pillar page should contain a high level of detail that is digestible to the reader. Blocks of text may contain lots of good information, but it’s likely to deter the user from reading everything on the page. Considering the Core Web Vitals standards set by Google, a page needs to have user-friendly navigation just as much as it requires original, detailed content. Having optimised page speeds for your pillar and cluster content is a surefire way to satisfy these requirements.
The topic clusters are to help boost rankings for related search terms. If you’re a smaller website with lower domain authority, then ranking for competitive keywords immediately is highly unlikely. Devising a series of cluster topics targeting semantic search terms with a much lower search volume will help increase traffic in the short term. In turn, these pages should be optimised with the performance of the pillar page in mind, so there is greater scope to rank for the keywords contained on this page.
Writing content for users and not search engines
The days of optimising content and website pages with keywords are a thing of the past. Although keywords still hold weight, there must be a broader approach that satisfies a wider criteria range to help Google recognise your content and increase user visibility.
Writing content that helps users is the modus operandi to adopt. Picture yourself as the user conducting a search online. If you wanted more information on ‘digital marketing’, you’d want to find content that explained what digital marketing is, but also explored each facet of this in greater depth. A blog post or landing page littered with the term ‘digital marketing’ but not containing much information isn’t going to give you the desired results. You’ll likely exit the page and look at alternative websites that offer you more.
This is what is meant by ‘people-first content’. The helpful content update released in August 2022 contains a list of questions that content creators should ask before publishing content. If most answers are ‘yes’ to these questions, then you’ll need to modify your content to help visibility and rankings.
The importance of conducting a content gap analysis
No content strategy is complete without an extensive content gap analysis. The importance of knowing exactly what your competitors are or aren’t doing is essential for solidifying your strategy and closing any gaps. A content gap analysis is valuable for highlighting any opportunities you can exploit.
The buyer’s journey must be at the forefront of any content strategy. Targeting users across different journey stages means your content will include useful information for all users. Users who are looking to buy a product will be at the purchase stage, so there needs to be commercial keyword intent to effectively reach these users. But, without broader informational content, your content will exclude a whole section of users who are still at the consideration stage of the purchasing journey.
Reviewing competitors’ work against your own content will only help serve your strategy better. You may also find that some of your content performs better than your competitors, so look at ways you can increase the strength of any pages that are performing well. A gap analysis can work both ways, for improvements and recognition of what it is you’re doing well at.
For further reading, check out our blog on identifying content gaps here.
Identifying and fixing duplicate content
It can be easy to misconstrue duplicate content as plagiarism as it’s a mistake that people often make. In the context of SEO, duplicate content refers to multiple URLs showing the same or similar content. Google is confused about which URL should be prioritised. This can hurt rankings as both URLs may end up lower down the SERPs.
The knock-on effect of this is, of course, the user experience. Trawling web pages without discovering premium content makes for a frustrating experience for the user. We know this doesn’t aid Google well in ranking pages, so you must combat this by fixing any issues with duplicate content.
Conduct a search using the phrase ‘intitle’ that includes the keywords you want to highlight for identifying any duplicate content. Google will then display all URLs containing the keyword or keywords in question. Adding more detail to the query when performing this search (E.g. a phrase or title with the keyword included) will allow Google to sieve out any duplicate results.
Fixing duplicate content issues is generally a technical issue. Adding canonical tags helps crawlers determine the correct URL, so Google knows which one to prioritise. You can use several other tricks to eliminate duplicate content issues on your website. Read about this in more detail in our duplicate content guide.
How to fix pages that are ranked incorrectly on your website
Often during crawling, Google may determine an alternative page is better suited for ranking. But this might not be your intention, and Google isn’t doing what you want. So, why is this and how can it be resolved? Let’s explore this in a little more detail.
A common cause for this issue is having one or several pages across your website that target the same keywords. What happens then is Google doesn’t know which page to rank, and your pages end up competing against one another for priority positions in the SERPs. The misconception is that one of your pages will rank even if the other doesn’t. The reality, however, is any pages related to the same keyword target then suffer from lower rankings, so there is no tangible benefit of having several pages targeting the same keyword.
Sudden keyword drops
There are instances where a keyword is ranking well, and then it suddenly drops. This can cause a degree of panic, particularly if a keyword is sitting pretty near the top of the rankings. The intent of a keyword can have a profound impact on what happens to the rankings. For example, you may upload a blog post that targets commercial keyword intent. The blog may do well and start to climb the rankings, but the landing page that was ranking well for this particular keyword begins to plummet in the rankings.
So, how do you solve these tricky conundrums? Well, extensive maintenance of your content strategy regularly may sound like a lot of effort, but the long-term rewards help prevent issues like cannibalisation and fluctuations in rankings. Audit your content and determine what pieces are on your website in relation to a particular topic or keyword.
You may find you have a series of blogs devoted to one keyword that is impacting your rankings. Use the ‘Performance’ section on Google Search Console to analyse the keywords your pages are ranking for. You may have 10 different blogs on the same keyword topic, and only 1 or 2 are generating all the traffic. Cleaning up your site through auditing can bring greater insight into your site’s performance and help Google to rank the correct pages to enhance your rankings.
Having a good internal linking structure is valuable for Google to rank the right pages and helps prevent keyword cannibalisation. You’ll need to ensure the page you want to rank has a good number of internal links pointing to it, so Google’s crawlers are aware of the most relevant page for internal linking. One important thing to note is to make sure all links are related to the subject matter. Plonking lots of internal links onto a page without correlating will only harm the user experience.
Optimising for featured snippets
The power of the featured snippet…every SEO strives for this benchmark. A featured snippet is the number one result that sits above the SERPs, providing a small expanded description, usually providing an explanation or definition of a particular keyword.
They have an untold benefit for visibility and rankings, leading to dramatic traffic increases and ultimately aiding better conversion rates. But, Google doesn’t make it easy to achieve such status. You have to put in the hard yards and optimise extensively to reach this promised land.
So, what are the best tips to do so? Most featured snippets are small paragraphs, often providing an answer to a question-based keyword. Carry out lots of research, using Ahrefs or a similar tool to filter through competitors and look for any low-difficulty keywords that are ranking well that you could potentially exploit.
There may already be opportunities for some of the content you currently rank for to end up with a featured snippet. You can look at your keyword rankings on Ahrefs, and see the ranking history of certain search terms, against that of competitors. If a competitor is ranking for a featured snippet for a search term you have on the first page, then you can make tweaks to optimise the content to make your definition a better version of the current featured snippet. It may not bring instantaneous results, but it will provide a better chance of ranking in the top position.
You should always focus on improving rankings first rather than optimising for featured snippets when creating new content. The primary goal should be ranking highly, then you can start to entertain the prospect of featured snippets. But, designing content that has the potential to climb the SERPs will leave you in the best shape possible to achieve a featured snippet.
How search engines understand content
In the case of Google, its crawlers work in a complex way but with a simple aim. This is to provide users with the best solutions for their search queries. For organic search, the aim is to create content that Google recognises as useful and is as high as possible on the SERPs for a particular search query.
After a page is crawled, Google will try to understand what the page is about, so it can rank the page accordingly. Title tags, textual content, images, videos, alt text and meta descriptions are all prominent factors for indexing.
Google’s aim is to provide users with solutions from the index that serve the search query with the highest quality content and relevance to their search. Optimising your content to meet each one of these criteria is essential to the success of your content strategy.
How AI will impact SEO content
The rise of machine learning continues to grow, and this will have a big impact on SEO and how content strategies are designed. Google’s implementation of AI has been designed to help users find valuable, trustworthy information. This eradicates the risk of harmful search results and increases safe searching for users.
BERT and MUM are two AI systems Google has implemented, advanced machine learning models that understand the context behind language and groups of words. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, which helps protect users from explicit content.
The MUM is a singular model (Multitask Unified Model) which enables Google to understand semantic, context-based language which transforms the user experience. The aim of MUM is for Google to improve worldwide search across many languages, expanding the user experience on a global scale.
So, what does this mean for SEO content? As we have explained, the emphasis on high-quality content with semantic search terms and relevance should be at the core of your content strategy. As AI expands further and technology advances, semantic search and Google’s understanding will only increase. Reviewing and updating content regularly for the purposes of SEO is important as developing new, engaging expert-led content. Google relies on updated content to offer current and future users the right answers to their search queries. Low-quality content is easily identifiable and not rewarded as a result.
As SEOs, it is important we embrace the constant evolution of the digital landscape, taking into account implementing content strategies that work to serve the technological changes we’re seeing.
SEO content strategies are what we do best here at Candidsky. With thorough research, experience and our expert use of SEO tools, we know how to develop content strategies that prioritise the user and provide an informational, people-led approach when creating content. If you want a content strategy with a cutting-edge that helps scale the growth of your business, then we’d love to help. Contact our Manchester SEO agency via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch using our online form submission.