Out of sight, out of mind: This popular saying couldn’t be more appropriately used in context to SEO.
Contrary to all the senseless noise that search optimization is no longer an important task to focus on, SEO still matters as it forms that bridge between your customers and the content that converts them into delighted buyers.
If your customers can’t find you, your marketing campaign might as well be whitespace!
The best SEO driven digital marketing agencies use the inbound methodology dichotomized with search engine optimization to create content matters, and content that ranks for the right consumer audiences. Gone are the days when SEO was THE core, stand-alone service.
The inbound marketing methodology and SEO are two services locked in arms to offer businesses a stellar opportunity to meet and exceed growth goals. Buyers are getting smarter; they engage in thorough research before making a decision.
This means your content must hone in on the intentions behind each search query, use the right keywords, exist within the right context, and focus on the right topics if you hope to see an increase in goal conversions and revenue growth.
Follow the steps in this formula, and the spoils of marketing warfare will be yours:
Key in Your Content with Keywords that Matter
Exact match keywords matter to a certain degree, but focusing on these as the ones you want to rank for is the hallmarks of a tired, antiquated strategy.
Ignore search volume; instead focus on the keywords that best match your buyer’s pains. These will be longtail keywords with buyer-focused meaning.
For example, if a surfing shop in Los Angeles is trying to sell surfboards off an ecommerce site, they should avoid focusing on “buy surfboards”, “surfboards for sale”, “Rip Curl surfboards” or even “Los Angeles surfboards”.
Instead, optimize for humanized keywords with emotional intent, and the local, exact match, and high-search volume keywords will start ranking over time as you build domain authority through structured content and favorable search analytics.
By using keywords like:
“best surfboards for beginners”, “is surfing hard to learn”, “how to choose a surfboard”, “surfboards for children”, “best big wave surfboards”, “surfboards for small waves”, “surfboards for advanced surfers”, or “the best surfboards for every skill level”,
you are ranking for various buyer personas at various stages in the buyer’s journey–defined groups who are more likely to convert into revenue.
Emotional Content is Now A Google Ranking Factor
Since Google RankBrain rolled out back in October of 2016, search quality has made leaps and bounds in providing users with detailed answers, content that resonates, and products and services to best meet the buyer’s needs. This is due to the AI and machine learning components in the algorithm.
Google Rank Brain Algorithm
As people perform online searches, Google studies their clicks, the landing page’s session duration, bounce rates, and compares these metrics to other clicks made through the same queries. It continuously learns, and then awards authority to search results that provide users with content that sees heavy engagement.
What does this mean?
In order to rank content, it must resonate enough with people to keep them actively engaged on the landing page.
This formula includes:
• Addressing specific pains
• Providing solutions
• Educating readers
• Using context
• Focusing on specific topics
• Writing for people before writing for bots
Content Ranking Example Straight from Google SERPs
Before you start writing content with the goal to achieve high organic ranking, do some research and see what comes up in the SERPs for specific questions.
Here is a perfect example showing how educational pain-focused storytelling, written for people, that is contextual and topic-focused achieves high organic ranking. More so, this content is as old as 2009–a clear sign that content quality, even if it is old, will outrank newer content that fails to hit all the emotional pain points:
Families are a huge market for millions of products and services, and one time-honored tradition in many families is to take the kids fishing. I did a Google search for “how old should kids be to start fishing”.
This search says a number of things to Google; it is performed by parents, people likely in their late 20s to early 30s, primarily men, and the emotional intent comes from individuals who want to introduce fishing when it is age appropriate.
Based on other searches performed by the same IP address, Google can get even more information behind user intent.
If prior to this search the person entered “age children develop hand eye coordination”, then Google will likely learn that the best search result for this person will incorporate child development information associated to fishing
(hint: when writing blogs write on relating topics and interlink to create structured, content clusters for higher authority).
Take a look at this screenshot for “how old should kids be to start fishing” and notice the first four search results on page one of Google.
Here is a breakdown:
• First Result – From 2014 – Fix.com:
Blog that covers multiple subjects with no direct relevancy. Content speaks directly to parents breaking down various age groups for children and introducing them to fishing.
Content gives scenarios, takes child development into account, covers age-appropriate fishing equipment and it uses educational info graphics to keep readers more engaged.
• Second Result – From 2010 – Outdoorbasecamp.com:
An outdoor sports and activities message board.
The question asked by a user is this: “About what age is good to get a child a fishing pole their size [sic] and teach them how to fish? I know they would have to be pretty coordinated so like 5 or 6 maybe”?
Other readers respond by giving examples from fathers teaching kids, child development topics are taken into account, readers offer teaching techniques, give age recommendations, talk about the child’s personality and even give recommendations based on the child’s weight.
• Third Result – From 2009 – www.bassresource.com:
A message board on fishing related subjects.
Users asked this question: “My son is going to turn 3 in about a month. He has shown an interest in fishing, and I do want to encourage anything he shows interest in. Do you think he is old enough? How do I get him started, just hook on a worm and bobber and drop it off the dock?”.
Other readers (all dads) respond with personal stories about teaching their own children, give tips, offer age recommendations, talk about the best equipment, and speak of coordination and other child development subjects.
• Fourth Result – From 2009 – www.wvdnr.gov:
West Virginia government magazine site. Blog article is titled “A Father’s Guide to Fishing with Children”.
Article has 1354 words, tells a story, speaks directly to dads and their pain points surrounding teaching kids to fish, gives tips teaching tips to dads, educates readers on child development and equipment, and conveys an emotional story of bonding.
Takeaways we can gather from the information embedded in these search results:
• Google awards ranking to newer content BUT no content written after 2014 on the next three pages of the SERPs is anywhere near as detailed as the content in the first four results.
• Emotionally-backed longtail keywords appear throughout the first four results
• Results contain storytelling
• Results contain educational information
• The content that ranks was written specifically to parents, from parents
• Every top result covered a secondary relative subject (child development)
• Content provides solutions to user pains
• Content uses a specific context
Writing Content with the Goal to Continue Ranking for a Decade
So how can your business rank on page one of Google for the next decade? The best strategy is to write knowing what works now, and update your content as search technology advances.
The pillar cluster model is the best strategy for ranking content for the right consumer audiences with higher conversion rates. Start by defining your pillar pages. These are main category / product / service webpages.
Have a CTA on the page that leads readers to the next step in the funnel (this could be a purchase page, or a form fill out page). Then create your content cluster model; a series of blog titles that focus on individual topics, to specific buyer personas, in a particular content.
Start with 10 articles and link each one to its common pillar page. This method creates structure (which Google loves) and offers readers the ability read other related content or go straight to the landing page to get more information and ultimately make a decision.
Be sure to speak to people, hit on their pain points, tell a story, educate and entertain them, and feed your valuable content to the pillar page with a link build on a specific longtail keyword that bridges topic to subject.
Not only will this method give you SEO juice on tap, it will also help establish your brand as the top authority.