Search Engine Marketing

There’s More to SEO than Keywords

September 24, 2018

Here’s What You Need to Know

Not too long ago, the discussion on SEO mainly revolved around the use of keywords. Optimization strategies literally depended on keyword research and usage. To put it simply, everything was about keywords.

But, those days are gone. Keywords no longer form a core part of the SEO strategy. Google is working actively towards eliminating keyword stuffing while prioritizing content quality.

So, if you’re one of those businesses that still depends heavily on keywords, you’re going to have some trouble meeting your goals. Either you’re going to end up being penalized for keyword stuffing, or your obsession with keywords is going to force you to miss out on all the other important aspects of search engine optimization.

You see, various other strategic elements make up a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Here are a few examples:

Content positioning

Now, we aren’t saying keywords aren’t important. They still very much are. However, keyword usage isn’t about how many keywords you use in your content. Rather, it’s about where those keywords are positioned within the content.

For instance, the inclusion of keywords in the title or heading of a page is far more useful than incorporating it into the body or the footer. So, you need to bother about how keywords are incorporated into your site’s overall structure. Search visibility is highly dependent on the quality, value, and shareability of your content; not on the number of keywords it contains.

Use synonyms

Google receives around 6 billion searches a day. Needless to say, that’s a ton of information; information that needs to be assessed in order to understand what searchers are trying to look for. So far, Google’s assessment has determined that synonyms play a key role in about 70% of searches.

In order to meet the challenge, search engines make use of an inventory of synonyms and variants for the various search phrases that they receive on a daily basis. This allows them to match the queries with the right content.

For example, searching for ‘sports cars’ can be very different from searching for ‘cars with sporty engines.’ Search engines need to be aware of these subtle differences in order to provide the proper results.

Using variations can also provide semantic meaning and help search engines overcome the problem of disambiguation. Disambiguation is a standard issue with certain search terms. For example, ‘vehicle’ can refer to actual automobiles or even a medium. The meaning varies based on context.

Currently, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm leverages co-occurrence to look for synonyms that match the query.

Go social/mobile

These are some of the key areas that businesses today tend to forget – social media and mobile. Websites today need to be responsive, i.e., optimized for mobile use. Most of the web traffic today comes from mobile devices. So, a responsive design is necessary for a better search engine ranking.

The same goes for social media. Social media is a highly effective traffic-generating platform because it encourages link sharing. So, make sure you have a presence on major platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Also, make sure those platforms are linked to your website.

Navigation and structure

Search traffic is also impacted by your site’s design, especially with regard to navigation and structure. You see, users don’t want to use sites that make it hard for them to find things they want to find. This is why Google plays the role of “enforcer” and ensures that only the most navigable sites make it to the top of the search results.

So, if your site possesses clean navigation, with clear menus and sub-menus, you are much more likely to find yourself being ranked high in the search results. Also, make sure you add a sitemap along with standard pages such as About Us, Services, and Contact.

It is necessary for your website to have a proper structure in place. Just good content won’t cut it.

Entity salience

Search engines are now looking to understand the relationship between multiple entities to determine topic relevance. One such technique is entity salience.

Entity salience goes way beyond the traditional use of keywords for identifying relevant keywords in a document by looking at the relationship between entities. Here, the term ‘entity’ refers merely to any well-defined or distinct item in a document.

If the relationship between entities is strong, they will acquire more significance.

To give you an example, think of terms such as Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, etc. used in an article. These are nouns that have a strong relationship with phrases like ‘automotive industry’ or ‘car manufacturer.’ So, even if these latter phrases appear once in the article, they still have a strong entity relationship to the brand names which we mentioned. So, the overall significance goes up.

However, if another term such as ‘Johnson’s Car Dealership’ appears in the article more than once, it will have a weaker association. This is because ‘dealership’ doesn’t necessarily mean car dealership. So, the significance is lower.

Security and site speed

Site speed is another major factor that impacts searchability. There is way more competition on the web now, and the web itself has become more accessible. So, in order to stand out, you need to make sure your site speed meets the current expectations of users.

This can be done by establishing a clean caching system, eliminating clutter, and optimizing content, especially media content such as images, animation, or videos.

Another major component is site security. Your site ranking also relies heavily on security. For instance, sites with SSL encryption are likelier to receive preference in search rankings over sites that don’t have SSL encryption.

Site security will only grow in significance in the near future.

So, as you can see, there is a whole lot more to search engine optimization than just keyword research and usage. In fact, we’re moving towards an era where advances in search algorithms may even begin to ignore keywords in favor of some of the elements that we just discussed. So, it’s best that you start playing catch up.

For more on SEO, do visit Crafted.

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