To quote former prime minister Harold Macmillan, the ‘winds of change’ are blowing through the worlds of SEO and content writing.
Whereas previously, writers could work the system by stuffing their articles with popular keywords to rise through the SERPs, these shortcuts are no longer as foolproof as they once were.
In recent years, Google’s attempts to crack down on black hat SEO tactics have significantly changed the craft of content writing. Whereas previously, creating an article jam-packed with popular keywords may have been a solid way to bring visitors to your site, Google’s ever-improving grasp of user intent has made topical, relevant content more important than ever.
Embrace the change
In reality, the increasing emphasis on quality content should be welcomed. While black hat SEO tactics may have once been an effective way to put your company on the map, a constant churn of uninformative, ‘spammy’ content was hardly likely to keep readers coming back for more. By switching to a content-focused approach, you’ll be able to satisfy the search engines while leaving a lasting impression on potential customers.
While keyword stuffing may be an outdated concept, however, there’s no doubting the importance of keywords in content writing. If applied to a piece of high-calibre content, keyword implementation can provide the vital fine margins to see your site soar through the search engines.
Choose your (key)words wisely
As Google has become more receptive to user intent, its laws have become increasingly focussed on relevancy when ranking content. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your selected keywords are as relevant as possible to the subject of your content.
Whereas in the past, the inclusion of a high-ranking keyword with only a vague connection to your subject may have been enough to fool the search engines, this approach will fall flat in the era of intent-based SEO.
By having keywords that are as relevant as possible to your subject matter, you increase your chances of performing strongly in the SERPs while providing yourself with the best platform possible to produce exceptional content.
The more relevant your keywords are to your subject, the more likely they are to fit naturally within your content. This reduces the need to compromise your content when using keywords for SEO and helps you create well-written and engaging work.
While there has been a marked change in how to use keywords in content writing, focusing on relevancy will ensure your site performs to its peak.
Longtail keywords refer to a series of words, usually 3 to 5, that make up one keyword. This type of keyword has become an increasingly popular tool within content writing in recent years.
Employing longtail keywords in your article allows you to appeal directly to niche demographics and maximises your opportunity to attract the most relevant, interested readers to your page. Additionally, this type of keyword can also work wonders for smaller, specialised companies that are less likely to compete with established, global outlets when using generic keywords.
By focusing your attention on longer, less competitive keywords, you immediately become a big fish in a small pond and increase your chances of ranking highly on relevant searches.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Over the years, we’re all sure to have read at least one of those spammy articles with the same key phrase repeated ad nauseum. While cynically stuffing your content with key phrases has always been a certain way to reduce the quality of your writing, it’s now also likely to get penalised by the search engines.
Once a cornerstone of black hat SEO tactics, keyword stuffing does not pack the same punch in the era of intent-based SEO. Whereas previously, this opportunistic tactic may have been an effective short-term strategy to bring visitors to your site, the increased sophistication of Google and its main competitors has rendered keyword stuffing archaic and obsolete.
Although moving away from keyword stuffing can be challenging and time-consuming in the short term, the benefits to your content and SEO strategies will be profound. By focusing less on keyword quantity, and more on quality content, you’ll simultaneously fall in line with Google’s new rules while enhancing brand authority.
Content is King
Quality content is the most fundamental aspect of your SEO strategy. While there are an array of other practices required to put your website on the map, it’s the strength of your content that determines whether or not site visitors will become site regulars.
Creating valuable content establishes a relationship between yourself and the reader, enhancing your brand’s image and increasing the likelihood of potential customers returning to your site.
When trying to create high-calibre content, you should ensure your work meets the following requirements:
- Specificity. The content answers specific questions
- Uniqueness. The article offers information that can’t be easily found elsewhere and the reader will learn something new
- Simplicity. The user’s questions are answered in a concise, easily digestible fashion
- Integration. Keywords are implemented naturally and logically
E-A-T is an acronym used by Google in their Search Quality Raters Guidelines. Standing for Expertise, Trustworthiness, and Authority, these principles are the top three factors that Google uses to determine how much trust it is going to place in a website or brand.
With this in mind, ensuring that your content meets these three criteria is the most effective way to gain Google’s trust and rise through the SERPs.
You can ensure your content meets these principles by providing the following:
- Well-researched, engaging, and unique content relevant to your industry
- Balanced, data-backed information with links to reputable sources
- External links to your page from trusted, authoritative outlets
- Ensuring your content is regularly updated to maintain accuracy and relevancy
Producing content that embodies these traits will not only impress Google but will also enhance your brand and forge a lasting relationship with potential customers.
Use your content plan to inform keyword choices
In modern-day SEO, your content should be informing your keywords, not vice versa. By collating a list of closely related but independent article ideas, you can build out a knowledge base that will see you become an authoritative voice in your chosen niche.
By having a string of related articles all solving an individual lead, you can then source ultra-relevant keywords for each piece as well as internal linking between articles to further increase your brand authority.
Tailor your links
With SEO more focussed on relevancy and expertise than ever before, the sites you link to have never been more important. You establish yourself as a reliable source of information within your niche by linking exclusively to topical pages from high authority sites.
Not only will this have a positive impact on your E-A-T score, but it will cultivate an image of reliability amongst readers who will associate your brand with other reputable sources.
From a content perspective, it’s vital that your links are introduced to your readers with a clear, concise, and explanatory anchor text. A good anchor text should prepare the reader for the exact content of the link, leaving no ambiguity around the source, outlet, or subject matter.
Just like with links in general, a collection of sensibly-written anchor texts will enhance your reliability in the eyes of search engines while solidifying your reputation as a trustworthy, competent brand to readers.
While good content has always been a pillar of SEO, the advancements of search engines have made it more vital than ever before. Because of this, using keywords for SEO requires a more nuanced approach than the archaic black hat tactics employed by many companies over the years.
Though certain tactics may have become outdated, however, keywords can still play a pivotal role in a wider SEO strategy. When used in conjunction with excellent content writing, relevant, well-utilised keywords still hold the power to enhance both the quality and visibility of your work.
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