One of the major SEO changes of 2013 was Google’s shift to keyword (not provided). While this caused a major upset in SEO keyword tracking, it also changed the conversation that inbound marketers and content developers are having with their supervisors. Now for content development and SEO copywriting strategies, instead of keywords, we’re talking topics.
Consequences of Shifting the Keyword Dynamic
One of the benefits that this change has brought to the industry is that now SEO marketers are forced to focus more attention on results (traffic volume, number of leads, number and rate of conversions, conversion quality, etc.) instead of just keyword rankings, which are valuable performance indicators for online branding, but can become a fixation instead of the business’ actual bottom line. SEO marketers who have already been focusing on results-oriented metrics could take the Google Analytics changes in stride while others have struggled to reshape their model.
Outside of tracking, though, this still leaves some uncertainty for content developers. It’s fairly easy to find blog topics suitable for promoting a given keyword, but what direction do you take when that keyword data is no longer provided and you can’t directly measure your progress?
How to Choose SEO Blog Topics
Rather than zeroing in on specific keywords, SEO copywriting now means taking a step back and thinking of why users would search for those phrases. In other words, instead of trying to capture on a page all the ways that users would phrase a query, marketers should focus on providing the information that users are searching for. This strategy demands more effort in the content planning stage, so here are a few strategies to help content developers tap into what their audiences are looking for.
- Search through FAQs. For a while now, the best practices SEO copywriting strategy has favored users over keywords, and that is increasingly the case. In short, answer the questions that users are already asking. FAQ sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora are a couple popular sites that cover a wide range of topics. Search for your niche and sift through the threads that appear for a question relevant to your audience. You can also search through the FAQ page on a competitor’s website or better yet, the questions that your own users send you. Your sales team probably has their own list of questions they’re commonly asked that would be great blog topics. However, be sure to choose subjects that are relevant to your industry, not your specific product. For example, for an SEO company, a post on the long-term benefits of an active blog will appeal to a broader audience than a post on the features of the Internet marketing plans you specifically offer.
- Look up long-tail searches. Some long-tail phrases can be quite descriptive of the information users are trying to find. Long-tail keywords for your website can still be found in Google Analytics as well as through tools like SEMrush (also useful for looking at competitor site data). For example, you may find keywords like “the importance of online brand management.” If you don’t already have a page that directly supports that phrase or idea (not necessarily the page it already leads to), it may be a good topic to work into its own blog post.
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner. Once you have a general topic in mind, use the Google Keyword Planner to find what specifically users are searching for within that category. Content developers will likely have to adapt phrases into blog topics themselves, but they can still get an idea of the strength of demand for different phrases. Under “Internet marketing services,” the Keyword Planner shows related searches for many iterations of that phrase, but it also retrieves phrases like “small business Internet marketing services” and “local Internet marketing.” Any of these related subjects can be adapted into their own blog posts as long as they still apply to your business, such as “10 Tips for Optimizing Local Online Traffic” or “Internet Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.”
- Vary copywriting approaches. If you’ve identified a strong topic, you can create several posts around the same idea or theme by changing the style of the post. Based on the theme “online branding,” marketers can develop content around titles like “5 Ways to Strengthen Online Branding” (list), “How to Build Online Authority” (how-to), “How Business Leaders Promote Their Brands” (curated post), etc. As long as you offer a fresh perspective or bring in new information through different posts, you should be able to write on similar blog topics while still adding valuable content to the site.
- Recycle digital assets. If an existing post has earned high or sustained traffic (essentially becoming a digital asset), you can extend the reach of that post by repurposing it into another piece of content, such as a slide show or an infographic. Different posts may be more suited to different types of content. For instance, a post that cites a lot of statistical data may be more readily transformed into an infographic rather than a white paper. With new visuals and condensed information, these digital assets are highly sharable, can readily be spread across social media, and are searchable across multiple networks (e.g. a video can be found through a search engine as well as the network where it is uploaded).
Although the methods of tracking have changed, SEO copywriting is still a major component of online branding campaigns.How have your content developers adapted their strategies since the start of keyword (not provided)?
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