After digging deep into your site’s navigation structure to provide a better user experience for your visitors and learning how to gain the trust of your visitors, search engines and people from your chosen niche by becoming an authority site, part 3 of our 2017 SEO Success series is all about optimizing your site for relevance.
Your visitors will be the one determining relevance of your site. Whenever someone performs a Google search, and he/she chooses the link to your website or webpage, the visitor decides if the content of your site actually is relevant to what he/she is looking for. For example, if a person searches “food delivery in New York” and your site provides floral arrangements with free delivery in the NYC area, your visitor would most likely leave your site since what you’re offering isn’t what that person currently needs.
Fortunately, webmasters like you can control relevancy by planning and executing proper keyword and content optimization.
Keywords are Dying, but They’re Still Useful
Keywords used to be a huge deal when it comes to manipulating search engine results to a website owner’s favor. Today, Google and other search engines know better – the system they have now are exceptionally sophisticated. They’ve created algorithm updates to ensure that any search results are useful to the person at that exact time. This is the reason why long-tail keywords are much more recommended these days than old-fashioned, made-for-indexing-robots keywords.
Keyword optimization can still be powerful, when used for:
Organizing menu, making links SEO-friendly, naming files, etc. This also includes intrasite links (linking one page to another within your site) to help search engines crawl longer on your site and understand its content more comprehensively.
Critical site areas
Keywords matter to search engines when placed in important areas such as the title tag and header, but they will mostly be ignored if you repeat them 10x within a page’s content.
- Meta Tags – Meta tags (title and description) are the snippets of text that describe your site’s or page’s content. This is hidden under your site’s code, but it is displayed on search engine result pages to give would-be visitors a quick idea of what your site is about.
- Alt Tags – Alt tags are the text describing images on your website. It doesn’t improve user experience, but gives Google a way to “read” the image (since search engine crawlers can only understand sites based on text).
- Heading – Titles and subtitles refer to headings. Because these headings are tagged H1, H2, and so on, search engine crawlers will focus more on these headings, before diving deep with the rest of your content.
- Body Text – Keywords should still be used in the body of your content, but they should sound naturally (not forced) and written for users (instead of search engines). Unlike the keyword usage of the past where you’d write something like “If you’re looking to buy rose bouquet New York has to offer,” just to include the exact keyphrase “buy rose bouquet New York,” you can write as normally as you would and Google would still understand what you mean, as long as these words are mentioned in the body text.
Optimizing one of these elements won’t do much in terms of ranking high in search engine results, but it helps Google understand your website’s content. The more search engines like Google understand what your site offers, the better because it would direct people who are looking for your product or services, giving you a more targeted audience that could potentially become customers.
Context in Content
When it comes to the meat of your site – the content – you should say goodbye to stuffing keywords for good, and focus in providing context in content. This is important because Google bots don’t scan your website for just the keywords anymore. Instead, these bots or crawlers interpret the content and decide what your website is all about from the data available. When determining the content of your website, Google bots use:
In one of Google’s published blog posts, they discovered that up to 70% of searches come from synonyms of keywords. This means that it won’t matter if you used the phrase “New York flower shop” numerous times all over your website. You could use naturally-sounding phrases such as ‘floral arrangements in NY,’ ‘NYC flower arrangement,’ ‘rose shop in New York’ and Google could determine your content from there, and place your site along other New York-based businesses offering the same product and service.
Semantic search (or “conversational search”)
During the 2013 Hummingbird algorithm update, SearchEngineLand explained that Google is now “paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”
This means that when a person searches for “What’s the closest place to buy a bouquet of roses to my home?,” the traditional Google bot would pick apart that question and focus on the words “buy” and “rose.”
With semantic search, Google can now understand that you’re looking for a physical store (because of the word ‘place’), in New York (if that is where your GPS says you are), that sells flowers like roses (because it would have more value if the store you’re being directed to also has other flowers instead of just roses). Google includes maps, photos and other relevant information to search results these days.
Knowing how Google determines a site’s content can help you make all blog posts, pages, and general content relevant to possible keywords your target market might use. It is still important to have a main keyword, but your efforts should also include adding synonyms of those keywords and brainstorming possible ‘conversational search’ queries of your target audience, and then answering these queries through your content.
Once you understand how Google ranks a website based on how relevant your site is to a person’s search query, you’ll be able to change your game plan when it comes to keywords and content creation, adapt as search engines become more sophisticated, and gain a more targeted audience from all SEO efforts you’ve been doing.