Optimizing for user search intent as opposed to keyword optimization
Usage of keywords to optimise content has gradually seen a decline in relevance since the invention of the Penguin and Hummingbird algorithms.
There was a time when stuffing enough keywords into your content was more than enough to help you rank.
Google put a stop to that with the advent of Penguin and we saw a lot of cracking down on poor content with keyword stuffing.Most SEO experts today, advise on using keywords at a frequency of 2-3% and using long-form variations of these keywords.
Why is this advice going to be nullified in the near future? Google confirmed that 16-20% of search queries it gets on a daily basis are totally new and this was perhaps why Rankbrain, the latest algorithm by Google, was created.
Rankbrain is not an algorithm in the real sense of the word but rather a modification to the Hummingbird algorithm , which comes into play when new search queries are recorded.
According to Google, Rankbrain is a continuous learning artificial intelligence which works to correctly decipher contextual meaning of words and even connect seemingly unrelated search queries.Rankbrain is Google’s third most important ranking signal.This clearly shows that Google is leaning towards serving up semantic search as opposed to keyword search.
In essence, what Rankbrain does is to process foreign queries and then try to answer these queries as accurately as possible using almost human thought processes that factor search intent into the equation.When Rankbrain sees an unknown query, it tries to accurately guess based on mathematical calcualtions, at the users intent and then provides the most accurate information from its database.This means that for close to 20% of user queries, trying to optimise for any keywords would be totally irrelevant because you have no idea what would be typed into the search engines.
Hey,but that leaves you with over 80% of search queries that more or less follow a pattern.For these queries of course, it would be easy to optimize for given keywords based on past history. Pretty straight forward, right? Well you couldn’t be more wrong. The advent of Hummingbird more or less put paid to that, even though the change happened so gradually, a lot of Seo experts didnt see it coming until very recently.Humming bird uses semantic searches and now with the latest update Rankbrain, user intent and not keywords will determine how well content will rank both now and in the forseeable future.
Does this mean keywords are totally dead?For SEO purposes; Yes, but for planning your content, keywords can serve as a guide to ensure the articles you create have a purpose.
In order to create content that ranks you would need to focus on what exactly your final users would be looking for to find your services.
If a user types in digital marketing, for instance; what exactly are they searching for?
It could be they are looking for what a digital marketing agency does or they could be looking for a specific digital marketing agency in their vicinity.
What does Google do in instances like this where the query is quite ambiguous.Lets look at a screen shot of the most relevant answers based on the query.
You can see that the results vary widely.Some of the results explain what digital marketing is and some others, what a digital marketing Institute does. If you scroll down the page, you’ll see results for a few globally recognized digital marketing Institutes. Interestingly , Google tries to point the user to more focused search results as you can see in the screenshot above.
To get your content to rank better you would need to develop answers that satisfy any of the queries.These kind of queries that seek information are known as informational queries and if you create content to capture all the intent behind the users search,you are more likely to get more traffic to your website.Note that this does not necessarily mean that you get more business for your sites.
More specific user intent queries that are transactional in nature answer the question where e.g digital marketing near me , digital marketing agency in Lagos.
Content optimization for voice search.
I talked a little about this trend in my article ‘what is the future of content creation‘. The future of ranking high on the internet with content creation is highly dependent on optimizing content for voice search. Mobile users these days are beginning to rely more on voice queries to look for specific answers and these queries are 30 times more likely to be action based queries. Comscore estimates that by 2020,50% of user queries will be via voice search.
Optimizing for voice search is a great way to target the local market.
Customers looking for your services via voice search are more likely to state the specifics of what they require.It is much easier to speak the words ‘digital marketing agency near me’ or ‘the best place to shop for mobile accessories in lagos’ than to type it in a search box.
Optimizing for voice search means optimizing for user intent and you need to target long_tailed conversational phrases as much as possible. You also need to ensure that your business is listed on all the local directories and very important, listed on Google my business.
Omnichannel marketing versus multichannel marketing
Both strategies are the same in terms of methodology but different in principle.While both techniques target various channels to reach a wider audience, their objectives vary. The channels used for both marketing strategies include social media channels, display ads, WhatsApp, mobile app, mms, face to face and so on.
While Multichannel marketing focuses on reaching as many users as possible, omnichannel focuses on creating a seamless interaction for users on all the platforms , and creating a better consumer experience. So, whether the customer is shopping online, on a mobile app, or face to face, the experience is the same .In omnichannel marketing, all the multichannel platforms are integrated to provide a customer with the best Ux possible. Customers questions, challenges and solutions to these challenges are provided in real time regardless of whatever platform they choose to interact with your business.In multichannel marketing, a user buying your product or engaging your services face to face may not have the same great experience online.
Video marketing will form the core of content marketing strategies
We see the rise of video engagement with the advent of Netflix and YouTube.Today, over 1billion hours are spent per day watching YouTube videos.In fact, the average internet user spends a minimum of 40 minutes watching a YouTube video!This, compared to the fact that most people probably go bleary eyed after 7- 10 minutes of reading a blog post.Video marketing is a trend that has been on the rise rapidly, since 2016, and this online advertising channel particularly targets mobile users and people within the age group 18-45( this is probably where you have the bulk of your clients). ‘How to searches’on YouTube are growing year on year by as much as 70%.It’s quite possible that Google may begin to give preference to content in the form of videos as they make for better user experience.If you plan to engage your audience in a more user friendly way, content marketing through free or paid YouTube advertisements should be a solid part of your digital marketing strategies .
Mobile optimization will take a new dimension
You probably know all about optimizing your sites for speed on mobile, and mobile friendliness as a key SEO factor.Apart from speed optimization,better user navigation and voice search should form part of your mobile optimization strategies.
Another way to optimize your services, and your clients’ on mobile is to use accelerated mobile pages (AMP).Accelerated mobile pages are static pages optimized for incredible speed delivery.Google has announced that it would use AMP as ranking factor on its websites. AMP serves up static pages and due to this limitation,some features cannot work on them. What you can do is create AMP versions of your websites and integrate these seamlessly with the mobile friendly non-AMP versions. You can learn more about using AMP in this article that talks about what AMP does for your mobile friendliness .
Use of schema org mark up as an on-page SEO tool.
Schema mark up is a tagging tool used for structuring data and it essentially tells search engines what your website content is all about.There are different schema mark up for different content types; schema for news articles, blog posts, events, products, organizations etc. What schema does is to structure the content for search engines to understand and offers them a better way of knowing which answers are more relevant to search queries.Schema markup offers a way to serve up rich snippets of your website information on SERPS, to users looking for your services on the internet.This will of course,increase the CTR for your site. A rich snippet shows up on your website as more in-depth information, alongside your site metadescription, which could include your ratings and reviews by customers , your key products or services,an event date, your location address e.t.c.An easy way to implement schema mark up and make your site more relevant to search queries is to use the Google schema mark up generator.
Despite all the constant changes and modifications to the ranking algorithms, one thing has remained consistently constant, Great content ranks every time.
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