Tag Archives: Keyword Research

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15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Google’s RankBrain is an algorithm that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to rank results based on feedback from searcher intent and user experience.

Diving deep to learn what makes RankBrain tick, here are 15 actionable tips to improve your SEO rankings.

Optimizing keyword research

Keywords have long been the foundation to high-ranking SEO content.  Most of your content, whether it be blogs or website copy, begin with hours of definitive keyword research you could rank for, and outrank your competitors for.

However, RankBrain has in some ways changed those run-of-the-mill SEO keyword research strategies you may have used in the past. It is all about searcher intent when it comes to the future of ranking, so it’s time to adjust your keyword research strategy.

1. Rethink synonymous long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords were once effective, before Google used semantic analysis and understood the meaning of words. You were able to compile a list of long-tail keywords from Google’s “related searches” at the bottom of a SERP and create a page for each keyword.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Unfortunately, synonymous long-tail keywords are not as effective in the RankBrain SEO world. RankBrain’s algorithm is actually quite intelligent when it comes to differentiating very similar long-tail keywords. Instead of ranking for multiple keywords, it will deliver pretty much the same results to a user.

For example, the long-tail keywords, “best automation tools for marketing” and “best marketing automation tools” will return the same results to satisfy searcher intent.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

So what do you do instead of leveraging those long-tail keywords? Read on to find out how to do RankBrain-minded keyword research.

2. Leverage medium-sized keywords

Since long-tail keywords are on their way out, you should begin optimizing for root keywords instead. Root keywords are  the middle of the pack search terms with higher search volume than long-tail.  They are more competitive and may require more links and quality content to rank.

For example, let’s say you are crafting an article with “lemon tea” as your primary keyword. Your keyword research should look something like:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You’ll notice that there are a number of medium sized keywords to choose from. Interestingly, the primary keyword “lemon tea” only nets about 3,600 monthly searches.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

However, medium sized keywords like, “benefits of lemon” and “honey lemon” drive around 8,000 to 9,000 monthly searches.

Using medium sized keywords in the RankBrain SEO world will also automatically rank your content for a number of other related keywords. If you want to optimize your content for highest SERP position possible, use medium-tail keywords.

3. Add more LSI keywords

Now before you toss out the idea of long-tail keywords altogether, it is important to understand that they still have some benefits. For instance, they help you identify the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords RankBrain loves to rank content for.

This doesn’t mean you should keep using those synonymous long-tail keywords, but you should leverage the LSI potential of them. These would be any words or phrases very strongly associated with your topic.

Using the previous “lemon tea” example, you can easily identify a number of excellent LSI keywords for that primary keyword. How? Good question!

One way is to use Google’s “related searches” and note any words in bold blue.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You can also use Google’s drop down to help you identify commonly searched for LSI keywords.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You can also use a handy little LSI keyword finder tool called LSI Graph:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Simply type in your primary keyword and LSI Graph will return a number of LSI Keyword rich phrases for you to choose.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Between Google and LSI Graph you can compile a number of powerful SEO LSI keywords like:

  • Disadvantages
  • Ingredients
  • Powder
  • Benefits
  • Weight loss
  • For cold
  • Brands
  • Recipe

These LSI keywords will give you more keywords, and pages, to rank for, as long as they are not synonymous like in the case of those traditional long-tail keywords.

Optimizing title tags for higher CTR

Organic click-through-rate (CTR) is a major signaling factor. In fact, the very nature of RankBrain is all about how users interact with the content provided in the SERPs.

Want to improve your SEO rankings? First improve your CTR!

What can you do to ensure your content is netting the CTR it deserves in order to get ranked accordingly? Well, there are actually a number of CTR hacks to improve your SEO rankings.

4. Make your title tags emotional

Putting a little emotion into your title tags can have a big impact on your CTR. Most searchers will land on page one of Google and start scrolling through titles until one hits home emotionally.

In fact, a study by CoSchedule found that an emotional score of 40 gets around 1,000 more shares.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Emotional score, what is that? CoSchedule actually has a Headline Analyzer to ensure your blog titles, email subject lines, and social posts are appealing to your audience’s emotions.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Drawing from our “lemon tea” example, let’s say you type, “7 Lemon Tea Benefits” into the Headline Analyzer. Not a great title, and these were the results from the analyzer tool.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

A score of 34 will get me near 1,000 shares, but it could definitely be better. The title definitely needs a bit more emotion and it needs to be longer.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Let’s try it again. This time with the title tag, “7 Lemon Tea Weight Loss Benefits for Summer,” which did much better.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

It can be challenging to pick a title that brings about emotion. The best way to nail down the perfect title tag is to think like your audience, research other high-ranking titles like yours, and use online tools.

5. Use brackets in your titles

This is definitely an easy one to implement to quickly improve your CTR and SEO rankings. By using brackets in your post titles, you are drawing more attention to your title among the masses in SERPs.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

In fact, research by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with brackets performed 33 percent better than titles without.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This was a study that compiled 3.3 million titles, so quite a large sample. A few bracket examples you can use include, (Step-By-Step Case Study), (With Infographic), (Proven Tips from the Pros), or (How I Got X from Z).

6. Use power words

In the same mindset of developing more emotional title tags to increase CTR, power words are, well, powerful. They have the ability to draw searchers in and will make your headline irresistible.

Power words include:

  • Insane
  • Effective
  • Case study
  • Fast
  • Proven
  • Best
  • Definitive guide
  • Scientifically

For example, these titles in page one Google take up the top three positions.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Increase your CTR and improve your SEO rankings by adding power words into your post titles. But don’t forget about those numbers either.

7. Use more numbers and statistics in titles

Lists are great, but don’t shy away from adding numbers and statistics to your titles. Numbers in titles highlighting percentages from research or a certain number of days can have a big impact on your content’s CTR.

Your headlines could look something like these:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

For example, let’s say you are writing content about a new study outlining the benefits of a low glycemic diet for decreasing acne. If the study found 51 percent of participants to have decreased acne after 14-weeks, your title could be, “New Study Found a 51% Decrease in Acne after 14 Weeks.”

You can also combine your numbers with power words for the perfect CTR storm. Like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

With your title tag optimization efforts well under way, it’s time to focus on those very important description tags.

Optimizing description tags for higher CTR

Title tags are not the only aspect of a higher CTR to improve your SEO rankings. Someone may have stopped scrolling at your title, but may read your description tag just to be sure your content is click-worthy. This makes optimizing your description tags a priority.

8. Make your description tag emotional too

Just like your title tag, you want to keep the emotional juices flowing if a searcher reads your description tag. This can be done in a similar fashion as your title tag, using those powerful emotion words that satisfy searcher intent in a meaningful way.

Here’s one example:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Not exactly stirring up the emotions you would want if searching for information on how to increase your website’s conversion rates.

Now how about this one:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This description tag points out a problem that many business owners have, traffic but not so many conversions.

And finally this description tag:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This longer form approach puts conversions into emotional perspective. It is personal and has a very clear emotional call to action.

9. Highlight benefits and supporting data

Why would anyone want to click on your content based solely on the description tag? This is the mindset that will take your CTR to the next level. Don’t be afraid to highlight the benefits or the supporting data you are serving up.

This is a great example of highlighting where the content data is coming from, as well as the benefits.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Creating content after an industry conference is the perfect way to highlight key takeaways for your audience. It is also makes developing those emotional description tags easy.

10. Make use of current AdWords content

One description tag hack many people fail to leverage is using keywords and phrases placed in multiple relevant AdWords description tags. If you want to optimize your description tags for improved SEO rankings, this CTR hack is a must.

For example, if your content was about marketing automation tools, you could run a quick Google search and find a number of ads. Then examine them to find recurring words or phrases, like “ROI.”

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This would be a pretty good indicator that you should place ROI somewhere in your description tag. After all, companies are paying thousands of dollars to have these ads up and running daily, so capitalize on their marketing investment.

11. Don’t forget your primary keyword

This should be a no-brainer, but still happens. Placing your primary keyword in your description tag solidifies that your content is indeed going to fulfill searcher intent.

Like these examples:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Be sure to place your primary keyword as close to the beginning of your description as possible. You can also sprinkle in a few of your LSI and power keywords as well, if it reads naturally.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Reducing bounce rate and dwell time

The RankBrain algorithm looks at your content CTR and will rank it accordingly. However, if your content isn’t quality after a user clicks on it, they will “bounce out” quickly and keep searching.

This ultimately weeds out any clickbait and emphasizes the need to have a very low bounce rate and long searcher dwell time on page. The more you optimize for these two very important factors, the more your SEO rankings will improve.

But what is dwell time? Well, this is how long a searcher will spend on one particular page. Like anything sales minded, you want them to stick around for a while.

In fact, the average dwell time of a top 10 Google result is three minutes and ten seconds, according to a Searchmetrics study. How do you get searchers to stick around for three minutes or more? Develop quality, authoritative content that satisfies searcher intent.

12. Place content above the fold

When someone is searching for an answer to their question on Google, they want their answer immediately. This makes having your content (introduction paragraph) above the fold crucial to keeping bounce rate low.

An example of what could cause a quick “bounce out”:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

You’ll notice that there is no content to be found but the title tag. In fact, the brand logo takes up much of the above the fold area. This could be problematic.

Instead, get your content front and center once a searcher lands on your post or page.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This will showcase your introduction right from the get go, making the searcher read on. But how do you hook them? Well, highly engaging introductions.

13. Develop concise and engaging introductions

By making your content above the fold, your introduction will be the first thing readers will see. This makes hooking them with a concise and engaging introduction essential. This will keep them reading and reduce bounce rate while increasing dwell time.

There are three main elements to a powerful introduction: Hook, Transition, and Thesis.

The intro hook should pull in the reader. It is specific, brief, and compelling. For example:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Introduction Transitions are usually connectors. They connect the hook to the posts content and supports the title (why a searcher clicked in the first place). An introduction looks like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

The thesis of any post introduction strengthens why the reader should keep reading. Normally, if your transition is powerful, the thesis will simply fall into place. For instance:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Spend some time on your introductions. These are in many ways the most important element of any content and will improve your SEO rankings in the RankBrain world.

14. Long, in-depth content ranks

One way to improve your SEO rankings is to develop longer, more in-depth content. Long-form content also increases your backlink portfolio, according to HubSpot research.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

More links and higher position on SERPs will definitely have an impact on your SEO rankings. If a reader makes it through your entire post, dwell time will definitely be in upwards of three minutes.

More in-depth content also showcases your expertise on the topic you’re writing about. This makes you and your brand more authoritative in your industry.

15. Make content easy to digest

You know that long, in-depth content improves dwell time, ranks better, and nets more backlinks. But how do you make 2,000-plus words easy to digest for your readers?

The best way to keep your readers from experiencing vertigo on page is to break up your content with lots of subheadings and actionable images. For example, you can do something like this:

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Subheadings are very clear and there’s an actionable image that guides readers on just “how-to” achieve the answers to their questions.

Another important tip for breaking up your long-form content is to keep paragraphs very short and concise.

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

Paragraphs can be two to three sentences long, or simply one long sentence (screencap taken from Neil Patel’s 8 SEO Experiments to Test in 2018).

15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

The main aim is to ensure readers can avoid eyestrain and take in all the authoritative information you outlined in your content. This will keep readers on page and increase your dwell time, thus improving your SEO rankings.

Conclusion

If you are ready to adapt your SEO strategies to new developments in AI and the evolution of Google’s algorithms, follow the tips above to start seeing improved rankings.

As algorithms evolve, so should your strategy. Have you tried optimizing for RankBrain? What are your favorite tips?

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The best tools for automating your SEO

Here’s a fact: effective SEO results require hard work and effort.

Anyone who has been in the SEO game for more than a few days knows that earning your website a place in search results is no piece of cake.

Not only do you need to carefully plan and execute your strategies, you also need to be on the lookout for changes in algorithms and other tweaks.

But the fact that SEO requires dedication doesn’t mean you can’t use tools and software to simplify the process, especially when you work with several large websites.

SEO automation means making the search engine optimization process automatic through the use of tools, software and other programs that reduce human labor.

The entire SEO process is far too complicated for all of it to be automated, but certain aspects of SEO definitely can be. And this can free up considerable time for other creative and administrative work.

The key here is to understand what you can automate and what you can’t (or shouldn’t) automate. For example, tasks like site monitoring and data collection should be automated so that information is collected on the go. A professional then needs to take decisions based on the data collected.

However, SEO processes like content creation and organic link building should not be automated because not only would you end up with low-quality content, you could also get penalized for building spammy links.

Your best bet is to find a combination of tools and software that helps you get the job done in minimal time.

So, if you’re thinking of automating your SEO, here are some of the best tools that can help you with specific areas.

SEMrush for advanced keyword research and tracking

Keyword research is the foundation of any good SEO programme. After all, the goal is for your audience to find you through search. While a free tool like Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start, SEMrush is one tool that would save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to keyword research.

With the SEMrush keyword research tool, you can identify your competitor’s best keywords, observe position changes in domains, uncover long tail keywords for your own site and for PPC campaigns.

Combining the Keyword Magic tool and Keyword Analyzer allows you to carry out keyword research faster than you would with a combination of tools. You can easily sort through thousands of keywords and uncover long tail keywords without dealing with multiple spreadsheets.

The keyword analyzer sorts selected keywords according to volume, KD, and click potential. Using the Keyword Magic Tool, you can select a combination of phrases and the tool will suggest long tail combinations with the exact phrases people search for.

If you work with clients, then the SEMrush Report builder comes in handy for creating custom reports. All you have to do is select widgets relevant to your report and customize the settings. The report builder automatically updates the information whenever you need to generate a report.

You can also schedule the reports, or use them as templates for future reports.

Cyfe for all-in-one monitoring

One of the pains of SEO is that there is always so much information to track. From keeping an eye on analytics, to monitoring your rankings and catching up on advertising campaigns, there can be a lot of logging in and out of several dashboards.

This is where Cyfe comes in. Cyfe is an all-in-one business dashboard that allows you to keep track of important marketing metrics including SEO and SEM metrics. Cyfe’s strength lies in its ability to pull in data from several sources into one dashboard, giving you an eagle eye view of all your SEO efforts.

The best tools for automating your SEO

Cyfe’s pre-built widgets allows for easy monitoring of any metrics you may want to track. With the Moz widget, for example, you can monitor a website’s authority in search without the need for a paid Moz account.

By adding a widget for Google Search Console, you would receive updates on your site performance in Google search. You could also monitor your site’s performance across different search engines.

Another place Cyfe excels is in competitor tracking. With the Cyfe competitor dashboard and RSS feeds, you can monitor your competitor’s content, email and social media strategies at a glance.

Once you have configured all of your dashboard widgets, you can set up rule-based SMS alerts, allowing you to continue with business as usual, knowing you’ll get a mobile push notification when anomalies that demand human attention arise.

Screaming Frog SEO spider for site crawls and audits

The bottom line in SEO is knowing what to fix on your site to boost performance in search. That means you need an excellent site audit process, especially one that you can put on repeat. For this, Screaming Frog SEO spider is a great choice.

Screaming Frog is a web crawling tool that checks for broken links, audits redirects, analyses page titles, meta data and discovers duplicate content. It can also generate XML sitemaps and integrates with Google Analytics, and you can even set it up for regularly scheduled crawls.

The best tools for automating your SEO

If you have ever tried to perform these activities manually, you would know how tedious they can be, especially for large websites. Screaming Frog saves you the time.

To generate a sitemap, all you have to do is crawl a site completely, and select the XML sitemap option. The tool also comes in handy when searching for and replacing links on your website.

Ahrefs for backlink analysis

The best way to jumpstart your SEO effort is to get backlinks from reputable websites. Ahrefs is one tool that can help you keep an eye on how well your efforts are paying off. The tool crawls 6 billion web pages daily and has an index of 3 trillion known URLs, making it the perfect option for backlink analysis.

With Ahrefs, you can automatically set the tool to monitor how well you are ranking in search, using the recently rebooted Rank Tracker tool. You can also get alerts for new keywords, new/lost backlinks and brand mentions.

The best tools for automating your SEO

Keeping an eye on the competition is also easy, as you can find content attracting the most backlinks in your niche and spy on your competitors to know where their links are coming from.

Conclusion

SEO is a tough nut, and there’s no magic way to automate all of it. To get the best results, you’ll still need to put in the required time and effort. What you can (and should) do, though, is to arm yourself with excellent tools that make the job easier and faster.

The SEMrush keyword research tool is a great option for intelligent keyword research while Ahrefs helps you track down your backlinks effortlessly.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider helps you stay up to date with your site performance through in-depth crawling, and for monitoring all your site metrics in one place, you can rely on Cyfe.

Which tools do you use to automate your SEO? Share your recommendations in the comments!

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

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Keyword Research & Content Marketing for SEO in 2018 [PODCAST+GIVEAWAY]

Tim Soulo of Ahrefs talks about keyword research that’s geared toward SEO and content marketing.

The post Keyword Research & Content Marketing for SEO in 2018 [PODCAST+GIVEAWAY] appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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The ultimate guide to choosing keywords for ROI

Let me say this first – keyword research is hard! Every SEO has done it, but few will ever master it completely.

This is not supposed to be just another keyword research post. This post is about going beyond raw search volume data, using metrics which will help you choose keywords which deliver the best ROI for you right now.

To start with I am going to assume you have carried out your keyword research already, and are starting off with a comprehensive list (if not, our complete guide to keyword research for SEO will help you do this).

The more keywords, the better: you want to start with a massive data set and then use the below points to whittle down your keywords.

Here is the full list:

1. Get Cost Per Click data

Cost Per Click, or CPC data is invaluable to SEOs. Why should we have to test one keyword’s effectiveness against another’s when the PPC guys have already got it figured out?

If marketers aren’t spending money to appear on the keyword, it’s clearly not commercially viable. We want to be using CPC data to exclude keywords.

Any keywords with less than 50p CPC clearly isn’t commercially viable, so ditch them from your list, and prioritize all those keywords with over £1 CPC.

2. Focus on what you already rank for

This point is about prioritizing short term goals. There is no point focusing on a keyword, no matter the search volume, if you don’t rank for it.

Moving a keyword which isn’t ranking to page 1 is going to take time, and will only start delivering traffic right at the end. Moving a keyword from position 11 to position 9 can take no time at all, and you will see the traffic coming through instantly from managing to get on the first page of Google.

Below is the classification we use at Zazzle Media to secure short-term wins for our clients and to help them to manage their expectations too. The position range column refers to the ranking position of each keyword on Google.

Position Range Opportunity Group
2 – 4 Short Term
5 – 20 Quick Win
21 – 39 Medium
40+ Long Term

Click-through rate studies all show that it’s page one or nothing, and as ‘Short Term’ and ‘Quick Win’ all sit on page 1 & 2, the vast majority of your traffic will be coming from these.

Long term keywords should not be ignored, especially if they can deliver significantly more traffic than other keywords, however your keyword optimisation strategy should reflect the effort-to-benefit ratio which the above classification will identify.

3. Choose the easy options

SEO is not done in a vacuum. For every campaign you invest in, there is always going to be a competitor out there investing more than you.

Ranking above a bigger brand is hard, very hard! If you’re not up for going toe-to-toe, budget-wise, with the big players in your field, then you’ll need to go after the easier keywords.

You can outrank more authoritative sites with more specific, more engaging content. However, as a rule of thumb we use referring domains as a signal of competitiveness on the keyword.

We use Majestic’s Open Apps to get referring domain data at scale. However, any backlink audit tool is sufficient. It’s best to look both at domain and URL level with this, with extra weight put on URL level (a 75/25 split).

Compare the average difficulty score for your keyword set against the URL on your site you wish to target the keyword on, and rule out any keyword massively out of reach.

4. Focus on traffic, not search volume

So, if I’m searching for a fashion item… I type in ‘dresses’ only to see that the results page is full of women’s dresses – this isn’t what I wanted! I then have to change the search to ‘men’s dresses’ to get the desired result. Think about the thousands of other men in my position!

But seriously, some keywords will have more clicks per search, some less. Did you know the clicks per search for the phrase ‘Chelsea Boots’ is only 0.64? This means that out of every 100 searches, it only results in 64 clicks.

A search volume of 25,000 looks absolutely massive, but a clicks per search of only 16,236 massively reduces what was a huge keyword.

We get this information from Ahref’s keyword explorer, and it really is impossible to do it any other way. You can get a lean towards how strong a keyword is through inspecting the SERPs and seeing the conformity of the ranking URLs. Are all the websites similar? Or are we seeing informational mixed with commercial results, mixed genders, etc.?

Google is all about delivering the best results for its users, and a mixed bag of results is a quick indicator that it doesn’t know what the user wants, so we’d anticipate lower click volume. It’s impossible to do it this way at scale, but will help you choose between a few keywords.

5. Use seasonal data/trends

Lots of businesses rely on seasonal traffic, which will completely invalidate average search volumes. Make sure your traffic estimates are based on when you are busiest, and focus your strategy on delivering growth at that point in time.

This means on-page and technical changes made months in advance, before consolidating link equity to key pages when they need it most.

Equally so, Google trends is your friend; go after keywords with an upward trend (obviously), don’t prioritize a dying keyword. You can get exports of your top keywords and use a SLOPE formula to determine whether your keyword is increasing or decreasing.

This is especially handy for your long-term keywords, to determine their true value.

6. Focus on keyword categories, not individual keywords

When completing keyword research, your keywords should be tightly categorized and mapped to individual URLs or directories. This allows us to see opportunity at a grander scale, helping you redraw the boundaries, and think more naturally about optimization.

Optimizing for individual keywords is so far outdated – content marketing helps us move beyond this and optimize for topics (this guide will help you do so). This helps us to be more informative and more comprehensive than our competitors. By grouping keywords by tight semantic relationships, you will not only have the head term, but also all the queries people have.

Think about it: what is more relevant and more authoritative than a directory/website that has great, in-depth content for every stage of the funnel?

Focusing on groups of keywords is not only more natural, but will deliver more opportunity for traffic growth as your supporting content ranks for keywords in its own right. If you have done enough to capture the right keywords, you can get conversions through bottom of the funnel, informational keywords.

The above six points will help you to have a more strategic approach to your initial keyword research, which enables you to get the best out of the resources you have – and get above the competition.

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What is keyword clustering, and who cares? (Hint: you should!)

Are you still optimizing for “keyword strings”? You are not alone!

The problem is, the industry is moving on, so don’t fall behind and learn to implement a smarter approach to keyword research: Keyword clustering.

Single-keyword SEO has been a staple for a long time. Remember how we used to have a separate page for every tiny variation of a keyword? At that time we’d optimize for [restaurants in Italy] and [Italy restaurants] using two different pages, one for each keyword string. It is how we all probably got our start and saw (and still see) our traffic flourish and ranking climb.

It was a fun time, but deep down I am glad it has passed.

Google’s search algorithm has outgrown that method of optimization. Sure, it may still work. In fact, most of the newest and most popular WordPress SEO plugins are still based on that “single-string” method, so most bloggers rely on it. But the more sophisticated algorithms expanded beyond the scope of a single-topic focus.

Even keyword research that finds the perfect sweet spot between popularity and saturation is no longer a guarantee for success. In-depth content covering a variety of related concepts and entities is winning more and more often these days.

More and more we are seeing the use of keyword clustering from sites that are making it beyond the scope of mediocre search results and traffic margins. In other words, the big guys are bringing out the big guns, and we should be following in their footsteps.

What is this keyword clustering?

OK, so this isn’t really new. I for one described a tactic of keyword grouping back in 2007. Back then, however, I didn’t know the term “keyword clustering”, and used Excel instead of much easier tools.

A better way of explaining it would be that it is gaining traction with more people (and growing buzz terms around itself).

So what is it?

Simply put, it’s keyword grouping categorized by (1) a common secondary keyword modifier which is how most tools approach it or (2) Google’s search engine results similarity (which is something I’ll describe below).

At the heart of it, keyword clustering is what it sounds like: you are taking relevant keywords and clustering them together into groups. Those groups work together to give your website a more thoroughly categorized theme, which in turn helps to establish its purpose and attract those crawlers that tell Google that page is one they should bump up the list.

It’s easier when you look at an example

Let’s say your core term is healthy diet plan, which is pretty tough to compete for. So you run it through keyword research tools and come up with the list of hundreds of “long tail” “keyword strings” that make your head spin:

What is keyword clustering, and who cares? (Hint: you should!)

How on earth are you going to optimize your content for all of these phrases?

Don’t worry, figuring this list out doesn’t have to be a manual process. There are some keyword grouping tools out there that make it much easier to get through.

I personally use Serpstat because it provides one of the best SEO tools in the market in my opinion. [Disclaimer: Because I blog on them so much, Serpstat reps approached me and gave me free access to their PRO tools]. However, other providers such as Wordstream and Spyfu offer keyword grouping tools, so choose the option which fits best with your existing tools and workflow.

With Serpstat, you can copy-paste the keywords into their clustering tool and it groups the list for you:

What is keyword clustering, and who cares? (Hint: you should!)

It is a keyword clustering automated system that does a lot of the work for you. But unlike most other tools, it doesn’t bog you down with centralized terms that impact your clusters.

Instead of simply grouping the keywords by the centralized term (like most clustering tools do, and like I did in my Moz article from 2007 referenced above), Serpstat also uses their own “connection strength” metric which looks at how many identical URLs those multiple search queries trigger.

You can choose between soft and hard clustering to determine how closely related terms should be within one group – a very unique approach to clustering keywords. To get into more detail about how the tool works, read this article describing their method.

How should you optimize your content now?

Let’s make it clear: No, you don’t need to take one of these groups and fill your content with all the keywords from within it.

What you can do instead: Look at those keywords and take main concepts to cover in your content. Each group can become your separate guide, or it can be a subheading within a more comprehensive article.

Keyword clustering isn’t the optimization technique, nor does it bring anything fundamentally new into a SEO strategy. You still need to create high-quality well-researched content targeting users’ demand.

What keyword clustering does is help you make sense of your keyword strings and turn them into meaningful concepts.

How can this method help me?

Any time you cluster your keywords, you are improving your SEO, period. Instead of trying to compete with a single phrase, you will be targeting keywords page by page based on a collection of phrases for each theme.

How this helps you is pretty obvious: better ranking and more traffic. Specifically, it is better ranking and more traffic against competitors who are almost certainly already using this method of SEO, which is one of the reasons they are doing better than you are.

This also diversifies your tactics. Where once consistency in a single model was key, things have changed. That more sophisticated algorithm mentioned above means better, more complex strategies are needed to keep up.

My favorite way to put it: Grouping keywords helps you get a better grasp of your niche. It forces you to cover more concepts and answer more questions within one page than you’d think of without going through the process, so the most important benefit of keyword clustering is that it makes your content (and hence) your site better, more useful, more trustworthy and more comprehensive.

Know a tool that should go on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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A Deep Keyword Research Process That Will Attract More Customers by @mindyweinstein

Check out these go-to tools and techniques for targeted keyword research that leads to interested visitors.

The post A Deep Keyword Research Process That Will Attract More Customers by @mindyweinstein appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Using Latent Semantic Indexing to boost your SEO strategy

SEO is an ever-changing, expansive science that is often hard to understand.

You know that you need specific keywords to boost your website traffic, but we’re about to throw another curveball at you – latent semantic indexing (LSI).

It sounds like a complicated term, but if you understand how basic SEO works you’re already halfway there. Below I’ll explain not only what this means but also how you can use it to help boost your SEO strategy and grow your business.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing? How does it help SEO?

Latent semantic indexing is a concept that search engines like Google use to discover how a term and content work together to mean the same thing.

In other words, in order to understand how LSI works, you need to understand that search engines are smart enough to identify your content’s context and synonyms related to your keywords.

However, without LSI keywords it takes the search engines a lot of effort to look for these synonyms and the relation of your keywords to the content on your site. With that said, search engines like Google rank those websites using LSI keywords higher than those that do not.

By using LSI keywords, you’re better able to create content that flows in a more conversational way. Using a specific keyword will generate results that are similar to the topic you’re discussing. This way you’re not overstuffing your content with the same keyword, making it almost unreadable by your audience.

It also helps that you’re including LSI to provide the right information to the correct audience. When you use LSI keywords, your audience is able to find the answer to their search quicker and easier, thus generating more traffic to your business’s website.

How you can find LSI keywords?

Still confused? It’s because LSI keywords make more sense when you can see examples and know how to find them.

Searching for the right keywords means using the right tools, so consider some of the tools below:

Google Search

One of the easiest ways to find your keywords is by going straight to the source. Perform a Google search to see which keywords or phrases are associated with a specific term. For example, we took a search of the word “dog.”

This is a great way to find your LSI keywords because you’re seeing exactly what Google links with the specific word. You can use these phrases or keywords as a jump off point for your LSI keywords.

If you can incorporate into your writings the keywords/phrases associated with what Google is already doing, you’re on the right track.

Google Keyword Planner

You’ll need to create a Google AdWords account in order to use the Keyword Planner. Once you’ve signed in to Google, you can access the Keyword Planner here:

Using Latent Semantic Indexing to boost your SEO strategy

Once you get into the planner, there are a couple options for you to choose. Go ahead and click on the first choice, “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.” You can then type in your information and keywords and hit “Get ideas.”

We went and ahead and used the same term “dog” to keep things simple for you. Here are the results that popped up when we searched.

Using Latent Semantic Indexing to boost your SEO strategy

These are the relevant LSI keywords that Google associates with the specific term. You’ll also be able to see how many searches are done during an average month, and how competitive the word or phrase is.

LSI Keyword Generator

This is another easy way to locate ideal LSI keywords. You can find this free keyword tool here. You simply need to enter your keyword into the search bar and it will generate a list of LSI keywords. Here’s what our search generated for the term “dog.”

Using Latent Semantic Indexing to boost your SEO strategy

How do you know which of these keywords are the best?

You now have a list of LSI keywords. But you can’t (and shouldn’t) use all of them. How do you know which are the most ideal for your website? The key is to understand why someone would be searching for this term. Once you have this information, you can decide which keywords apply to your situation.

Often times the intent of a user’s search is to find out one of three things:

  • Finding information on a subject (For example, what is a dog?)
  • Finding specifics about a subject (Example: What are the most popular dog breeds?)
  • Finding a way to purchase the subject (Example: Where can I find dogs to purchase?)

To state the obvious, you’ll want to choose keywords that are applicable to your content. So, if your website is about dog adoption, you wouldn’t want to choose an LSI keyword relating to how to treat dog flu. You’d want to choose a keyword that’s more relevant to your website, such as “dogs for sale.”

The team at HigherVisibility came up with a great LSI infographic for beginners that shows how this works and how to be successful with the strategy.

LSI is a way to prevent the stuffing of keywords into a piece of content. The best way to incorporate these words into your website and content is to write them in naturally.

Finding a combination of both popular keyword searches and relevance to your content is the ideal way to decide which of the keywords work for your website.

The takeaway

If you’re trying to rank your website high in search results, you’re willing to play the Google game. Including effective backlinks and adding keywords to your website’s content will rank you high and generate more traffic to your business’s website, but adding in latent semantic indexing and you may be thrown for a loop.

Ultimately, it isn’t a difficult concept to understand. Just know that Google looks for synonyms to keywords to find the most appropriate content for a search query (and we’re glad they do!). Once you’ve understood how and where to find your ideal LSI keywords, you’re well on your way to boosting your SEO strategy.

Do you have experience with LSI keywords? Let us know your thoughts and about your experiences in the comment section below.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for HigherVisibility, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda at AmandaDiSilvestro.com.

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How to Growth Hack Your Keyword Research in 6 Steps by @thewillrobins

Aligning your revenue goals with keyword research yields amazing results. Here’s how to hit your business and SEO goals.

The post How to Growth Hack Your Keyword Research in 6 Steps by @thewillrobins appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

10 Timeless Keyword Research Tips by @bsmarketer

Want to know what your customers are searching for and give it to them? Use these 10 keyword research tips.

The post 10 Timeless Keyword Research Tips by @bsmarketer appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017

SEO for businesses in 2017 will be revolutionary.

Within the space of 3 years, it has become significantly easier to find businesses, stores or items nearby, creating a shift in user’s intent and search behavior.

Users no longer have to include their location in search queries, such as inputting “coffee shops in Queens” into Google.

This trend has given way to the “near me” search query – Google “coffee shop near me” while in Queens, and Google will fetch coffee shops in your local area.

According to digital marketing expert Jordan Kasteler, 1 in 3 of all Google searches has local intent. This means users search for and expect local information in SERPs, and now more than ever, priority should be given to optimizing on-site and off-site strategies for local SEO.

Below are a few things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017.

#1: Title tags and meta descriptions still work

Title tags and meta descriptions are on-site HTML elements which reflect the content of your page, and are shown in SERPs and browser tabs as text. With Google increasing the width of the SERP to 600px, the length of title tags falls between 40 and 50 characters (best practices) while meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters.

Titles display what your page is about to both visitors and search engine crawlers, while meta descriptions summarize the content of your page. Your title tags and meta descriptions must include the keywords you are trying to rank for, for example, “cheap hotels in Las Vegas” (title tag includes a keyword and locality).

Titles and meta descriptions must be unique, compelling and descriptive, as this can affect click-through rates from search results to your page.

Using the length guidelines above, ensure your title and descriptions are displaying in full on the SERP. Use tools like Yoast’s SEO plugin, SERP preview tool, and SEOmofo to emulate how your title tags and meta description will look in search results.

#2: Keyword research

4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017

Keyword research represents the very foundation of your SEO campaign and when done properly, keywords can drive traffic and rankings for your web pages. Keywords represent terms and phrases people type as search queries to find local businesses.

Keyword research for local SEO involves optimizing your web pages for keywords with geo-modifiers – i.e. place names and locations. For a furniture making business, a generic, non-local keyword might be “furniture makers” but for businesses optimizing for local SEO, an acceptable keyphrase would be “furniture makers Portland” or “furniture makers Portland Oregon”.

To optimize your keyword research for local SEO, brainstorm keywords or phrases with a geo-modifier that customers might use when searching for a business like yours. Run generated phrases or words through Google Keyword Planner or Keyword.io to get keyword ideas together with monthly search traffic stats.

Keyword research can be time-consuming, but rewarding when done properly. For a more in-depth guide, check out our complete guide to keyword research for SEO.

#3: Optimize for Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places, allows you to display your business hours, phone number and directions to your office on Google Search and Maps. This service is free and will aid your SEO efforts, as your business is listed when customers search for your services.

4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017

When optimizing your Google My Business page, remember to upload your business logo and photos of your business (staff, office building, etc.).

For an online business with no physical location, you can hide your address, but be sure to fill in and validate every other piece of information entered. A misplaced phone number or wrong address can result in you losing customers and revenue.

For Bing Places, the process is similar to Google My Business. Though Bing cannot be compared to Google in terms of use and search traffic (3.5 billion searches per day), some customers nevertheless still use the search engine, and you might have what they are in need of.

#4: Local structured data

Structured data, sometimes referred to as schema markup, are codes which are added to websites to provide search engines with in-depth information about your products, your business offering, prices of your products, location-based offerings and much more.

According to ACMQUEUE, a measly 31.3 percent of websites use schema markup, and most of these on a very basic level. Schema markup on your websites make your business stand out in the SERP with things like rich snippets, which in turn will boost your CTR.

4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017

There are various options for businesses when implementing Schema markup, you can optimize your website according to your business type (dentist, travel agency, etc.), events (business listing in upcoming events) and location (location markup).

Google is forcing marketers to use schema markup and is rewarding websites who use this feature as structured data helps crawlers understand your web pages and the content in it. To check if your website is optimized for Schema markup, you can check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Conclusion

The above points are a drop in the ocean for optimizing for local SEO, but implementing the points above will have you generating results and better conversion rates.

 

Eimantas Balciunas is the CEO of Travel Ticker.