Focusing on quality content rather than churning out blog post after blog post appears to be agreed upon by most, yet when it comes to action, a different story often emerges. SEOs still receive requests to, “find a keyword that we can create a blog for” and slightly more evolved, “tell me how many blogs it will take to rank for this one keyword.”
Instead of following these requests it’s time we explore the needs of our clients and develop the strategies that will deliver on them. To do this, I’ll share five methods I’ve used with clients to move from a keyword based approach to a topic and intent strategy.
1. Using the 80/20 Rule for Content Performance
The first step I use to move away from a keyword driven content plan is to let history do some of the talking. I relate that content performance is subject to the Pareto Principle (aka 80/20 Rule) much as the same as many other factors in our lives - such as 80% of my favorite SNL skits are from 20% of SNL’s cast or 80% of my texts are to 20% of my contacts. So as the performance of our content goes, you can expect that 80% of traffic is going to go to only 20% of content (or less). This isn’t new though.
In 2014 Walter Chen shared an example of this in his post, “ Content Marketing Power Law ” and I find it exemplified in nearly all the sites I review. Take the 3 examples below which are from content audits completed for Greenlane clients. These examples took out the homepage of the sites, as homepage typically get a majority of traffic anyway which would have shown more traffic going to even fewer pages.
Percent of Organic sessions to percent of pages of content:
As seen, not even 20% of content is getting the 80% of organic traffic for these sites. In fact, quite a few of the pages didn’t even register a session for the entire year.
Sometimes moving away from (or avoiding) a keyword based content plan is as easy as showing clients these examples. Other times they want to know how their own content is stacking up, so we take a look at that for them. (If you’re curious too, there’s a handy tool over on the Greenlane blog to help you do that.)
2. Use the Power of Google
Now that we covered the history, fast forward to 2016. Developments by Google from the Panda update in 2011 to the rollout of Hummingbird and RankBrain, Google is showing us that content is more than keywords. While the SEO industry is tuned in to each and every Google algorithm change and update announced (and even those that aren’t, hello Possum?!) framing these into meaningful information for a client is something different.
First I start by quoting Google’s itself. Take this quote from Google’s own playbook:
“The key to creating a great website is to create the best possible experience for your audience with original and high quality content.”
— Google’s Search Console Course Section 1.4
Then, I usually follow this up with an example of how keywords don’t need to be the focus of the content for a page to rank well, with an example. Case in point, let’s review the top five results for the search “plan trip with infant.” First to note, 2 of the 3 didn’t include “infant” in the page content at all (noted by the number to the left of the SERP result) yet those in position 4 and 5 have “infant” in the text over 18 and 10 times respectively.