Keyword optimization is crucial for any marketer. While SEO's many aspects need to be perfect, keyword optimization is what most people think about when they consider search engine optimization.
Keywords and the phrases that you optimize your site for make your page appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).
They are also a measure of how well-known your website is among the vast web world. Search engines pay more attention to keywords than anything else on your website, so it’s essential to make sure you have a solid strategy for optimizing your site for search engines.
Keyword optimization is a process that has been around since the early days of SEO. So it’s not a new thing. But SEO changes, and so does keyword optimization. This article will help you understand how to optimize your content for different keywords and why it matters to focus on keyword clusters instead of individual keywords.
Keyword optimization is the process of structuring your web content in such a way that it will rank higher within unpaid search results. Therefore, keyword research and optimization are among the most crucial parts of SEO.
But today, you can't just use a single keyword and expect to win since people are doing more sophisticated, nuanced, and long searches. This is where keyword clusters come into play.
Keyword clusters are groups of words that contain similar meanings and actionable intent. They help you optimize your website and pages for a topic and intended user action by focusing on multiple keywords rather than one single keyword.
Keyword clusters are a much more effective way to target your content and rank in search engines because they help you attract traffic from a much wider audience. Jump straight to section: ‘Keyword Clusters Optimization Steps’ for a step-by-step guide on optimizing your website for keyword clusters and topics.
Keyword optimization is the process of focusing content on topics that are a central or key supporting themes of page. Thoughtful use of specific words (a.k.a keywords) is key to clearly indicating the set of topics to end users and equally to search engines scouting for connecting their searches to the best content. Such refinements also helps structure your web content better so that it will rank higher within unpaid search results - specifically, on search engine results pages (SERPS).
If you optimize your site for specific keywords and phrases, you will start to see additional and better keyword ranks. In turn, providing more traffic and eventually an increase in conversions.
Keyword research and optimization are one of the most crucial parts of SEO.
Unfortunately, nowadays, too many people think this process of reviewing and improving search terms is just about getting your keyword to rank #1 on Google. That assumption is not entirely accurate, especially when you consider how much search engines and their ranking algorithms have changed over the years - if not each day at this point.
You can't use a single keyword and expect to win. Instead, you need to find all the relevant and related keywords to your business or topic and utilize them strategically like a commander directing a large army.
This article will cover the latest best practices around keyword research, topic/keyword clustering, and on-site optimization for getting better rankings in organic search results for 2022-2023.
Search engine optimization has come a long way in the past 25+ years. Over those years, the practices and optimization trends have slowly shifted to align with the ever-evolving user search behavior, queries, and patterns. Traditionally, SEO was solely focused on optimizing web pages for the broadest keyword you wanted your page to rank for.
For example, if you were selling a scarf that was only available in blue, you might optimize your web page for the keyword “scarf” or “blue scarf.”
Keywords like this are called head terms or even simpler single keywords. Single keywords have been the main focus of SEO and webmasters for years. This is what traditional SEO keyword research was initially designed for. Moreover, it was to help businesses and websites find the words that people are searching for. This would enable said business or website to optimize their website’s content around those keywords to rank higher in search engines.
The problem today with single keywords is that they aren’t as effective or practical as they used to be.
People are doing more sophisticated, nuanced, and long searches. People are also constantly researching and refining what they are searching for. In fact, in 2017, Moz noted that 63% of all queries had 3 or more words. Furthermore, Statista reports in a 2020 study that 40% of all queries were 3 words or greater. Finally, Backlinko conducted their research and concluded that 92% of all queries contained 3 or more words.
Regardless of who or what stat you want to believe regarding the length of a query, it is clear that SEO experts and the data indicate a dramatic rise in multiple-word searches by users. This is where keyword clusters come into play.
Keyword clusters are groups of words that contain similar meanings and actionable intent, often collectively defining a topic (or a graph for related sub topics). They are not necessarily required to have the same word or phrase to be considered related or part of a cluster. Keyword clusters once defined help you optimize your website and pages for a topic and intended user action by focusing on multiple keywords rather than one single keyword.
When you focus on a specific topic or theme, rather than just going for one high-volume term, you increase your chances of successfully ranking for your target terms.
Furthermore, you also help improve the usability of your content and the semantic relation between other keywords. This can also help increase brand perception by showing your expertise on a whole subject rather than a singular word.
Taking our earlier example, if you were selling blue scarves and wanted to rank for the keyword “blue scarf,” you could also optimize for the words “blue scarf for sale,” “buy a blue scarf,” or even “blue scarf for winter.”
This allows for easier content writing and enables users to see several terms related to what they were originally looking for. They may even see variations they would have never thought over. In the case of our example, it helped provide much-needed brand trust, which can help with selling our imaginary blue scarves.
Keyword clusters are a much more effective way to target your content and rank in search engines because they help you attract traffic from a much wider audience.
Instead of trying to get people searching for one specific word or phrase, you can get them searching for a group of words that have similar meanings and intent. By focusing on related terms like these rather than just one, you increase your chances of ranking for all of them with one article. This helps save time and resources while also saving users from needing to view multiple pages to get answers or accomplish their desired goals.
Another critical and essential part of SEO is onsite/on-page optimization, or as it is more commonly referred to, keyword optimization. One challenge with keyword optimization is that it can be difficult to know what keywords will work for your site and what you are offering.
There are many different ways to optimize your website for keywords, but one tactic has withstood the test of time and continues to be effective.
It’s called topic and/or keyword clustering.
Keyword clustering is the process of grouping similar keywords together to form a keyword cluster.
These groupings can also be done by the action a user is expecting to take. Optimizing for keyword clusters means that instead of overusing the same keyword multiple times, you would use variations of the keyword throughout your content.
Keyword clustering should be combined with your other optimization strategies to work together in unison. For example, when you optimize a page’s copy to include a set of keywords, you should also try to include those keywords and variations in other places. This could be in alt image text, headings, metadata, video content, etc.
Overall you should be building a hub for the topic your keyword clusters pertain to. Also, note that ensuring the user can accomplish their desired actions is also being considered. For example, this could be directing a user to a different page or resource, learning about a subject, or purchasing something.
This approach ensures that every page on your website becomes valuable—to users and search engines alike.
Use your favorite research tool to ideate, find, and confirm what keywords potentially match your site and offers. At this stage, grab anything and everything. Don’t worry if the words are not an exact fit for what you currently need. Your mantra at this stage should be “all the things!” which will all go to use eventually. During this phase, you can begin making initial groups based on what you might assume the intent to be.
Once you have your inventory of keywords and terms, you will need to layer on more data to make things concrete and complete. This additional data is essentially labeling your keywords by their search intent.
Specifically, this is NOT the assumed intent you might make by looking at the keyword. Instead, it is actually searching the keyword in question and reviewing what is shown to users on the first, second, and third pages. There are 4 core categories of search intent: navigational, transactional, commercial, and informational. Learn how to optimize web pages for search intents here.
After the intent classification is in place, you can further refine your initial keyword clusters.
With your newly completed keyword and intent groupings, you can begin outlining what pages and clusters might fit your brand. This planning should include your existing pages and some high-level hierarchy needs, as well as figuring out how you intend to potentially use search traffic to drive your site's goals and objectives. You want to create or optimize pages based on the user’s purchase journey and create topical hubs that would benefit your brand.
Now that you have a site strategy, page goals, and keyword clusters. You can begin doing your homework around what you need to compete and beat your competition in organic search. This research should include word count, keywords, content types, tools offered, page layout, page headings, and more.
When using the Quattr platform, the keyword recommendations view allows you to see what keyword clusters your existing page is ranking for. The Quattr platform scores your pages and allows you to make changes to the metadata, headings, body copy, image alt text, and structured data. Any copy edits are immediately reflected in score changes. You can then implement these changes on your website.
Quattr’s sandbox environment lets you test copy changes to see how that impacts the top keyword clusters for that page, compare results with competitors and make changes with the assurance that your updates will bring results.
Once you know what the competition has regarding content and offers, you can begin outlining what your page needs. The easiest way tends to be with the topic, intended action, and headings. For example, you may outline that the top of your page needs a detailed copy section. While the middle portion of the page may require a mix of calls to action and resources. The bottom portion of the page is dedicated to questions, selling points, and more topic detail. Ultimately this is your chance to plan how you want users to use and navigate your page.
Having an outline for the page allows almost anyone to write helpful, engaging, and valuable content. Utilizing your keyword groupings, you can begin writing copy and adding these terms naturally within it. Keep in mind who you ultimately are writing for; in some cases, your content will need to be more technical or require more straightforward phrasing and terminology. A lot of this can be gleaned from your desired audience or even competitors directly - try to learn from those with the most experience and history.
Eventually, you will need to ensure the page has logical links to references made, data citations, and where they could go next. This should become part of your content strategy and writing process, but giving your own time and thought is good too. Especially once you have a semi-completed page that can give you an idea of what a user might see and what they might want or expect to do next.
Pro Tip - Don’t overdo it with interlinking; keep things simple and logical. Always make sure there is a clear purpose or reason for creating links, whether internal or external.
Once the page is complete and published, you can begin understanding how search engines and users interact with your content. This data can come from Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console, Crazy Egg, SEMRush, Quattr, etc. Overall this data can help you understand if your page is getting the right keyword rankings, page usage, and hopefully conversions. As time progresses, you will be able to gather more data and validation for what is working and what is not.
Lastly, leveraging everything you have gained to this point would allow you to make further page refinements and content optimizations. This should be naturally part of the content creation cycle in a perfect world and SEO process. You never end up with dozens or hundreds of pages that yield little to your website's end goals. This continual content optimization and refinement has some additional benefits with keeping pages fresh and robust.
SEO is more than just keyword optimization. It’s about creating content that is informative, entertaining, and engaging. It’s about telling a story, providing the right answer at the right time, and being there when and where your customers expect you to be.
It’s about giving people what they want when they want it, and in a way that is easy for them to access wherever they are. SEO is all about providing your audience with valuable information that creates a better understanding of what it is you do and why it matters.
Keyword optimization may be the first thing you think of when it comes to SEO, but it is not the only aspect. Today SEO is a complex process. Search engines want to serve any search query in the best way possible. As a result, with almost every search query, millions of pages pop up in the results, but a user only navigates to the first few.
To make sure your web page ranks first for user search queries, you need to optimize your web pages keeping both the user and search engines in mind. Optimizing a web page for search engines includes several aspects like focusing on search intents or providing authoritative and trustworthy content. While this can seem like a daunting task at first, with the keyword cluster approach discussed above. You can easily conquer any search page and landscape by applying effort, thought, and practice.
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