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Posted by Brett Romero - 28 August, 2019

Digital Marketing Beyond Keywords

SEO is always top-of-mind for marketers. And although keywords and keyword research are both still important, how we use them has evolved.

We’ll explore what other SEO tactics you should be using beyond keywords to get better page rank and reach your ideal audience and prospective clients.

But first, let’s look at web searches have started to change.

The Way We Search on the Web Now

Keywords are important is because of how people search on the web, which is typically typed out in fragments (e.g., “best Italian restaurant in Chicago”).

But the way people search for information on the web is changing. Voice-first browsing, where internet user talk to AI assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, has been gaining a foothold in the ways people search on the web.

In 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 30 percent web searches will be done via voice-first browsing. And, as these technologies continue to improve and become more commonplace, this percentage will grow.

When people use voice-first browsing, instead of using a keyword search which usually had one to three words, people are using full sentences for their searches (e.g., “What’s the best Italian restaurant for tiramisu?”). 

To look beyond keywords, you'll need to start looking at them from a wider perspective.

Topic Clusters

You may have a list of keywords that you focus on with your content. But how about topics? Can you see some larger themes in your content and keywords?

Instead of focusing on just keywords, focusing on key topic clusters will help you get better Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). By implementing topic clusters, your business will be known as experts on those topics which will also boost your reputation as an authority as well as build trust with your audience.

HubSpot goes into detail about how to create topic clusters as a part of your content strategy, but here’s a brief overview what this could look like.

A topic cluster is made up of three parts: a pillar page, links, and subtopics or cluster content.

marketing channels(source)

If you’re looking to start ranking on a specific topic, you will need a web page (a pillar page) that focuses on that topic.

The pillar page is the hub for this topic. The subtopics or cluster content act as satellites around the core pillar page. The links connect the subtopics to the pillar page.

Let’s say you own a printing business. One pillar page could be about your banner and sign printing services, with three subtopics: signs, display banners, and banners. The pillar page would contain the links to those three subtopic pages. Each subtopic page could contain content specific to that subtopic, such as relevant blog posts.

Content Length: Go Longer

Another way to look beyond keywords in your digital marketing efforts is to look at content length. 

So how long should your content be?

Although shorter content sometimes necessary, you should generally aim for longer content. For a word count, it should be at least over 1000 words, according to BuzzSumo. Yoast suggests the absolute minimum should be 300 words for a blog post. If you’re looking for an exact number for your needs, you can check out this review of what several marketing leaders have to say. Keep in mind that you should consider what your content aims to do for your reader and adjust the length accordingly.

But remember, this is about providing quality content, so it shouldn’t be focused solely on hitting a word count. To look beyond keywords, you should also focus on giving helpful, engaging content that your audience can rely on.

lead generation

High quality = High E-A-T

You may have heard of Google’s metric for quality content, called E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. If you want your web pages to rank high on Google, the content must have a high level of E-A-T.

E-A-T is especially important if you have a website that contains information that can impact the wellbeing of your audience. Google calls this YMYL, which stands for Your Money, Your Life. The latest algorithm update heavily affected these types of websites. If you have YMYL content, Google will hold you to a higher standard of E-A-T. Simply put, your content to should help people, not harm them.

So how can you increase your E-A-T score? Moz has a great explainer on E-A-T and handy tips on what to focus on in your content.

Here are some places to start when it comes to increasing your E-A-T score:

  • Create content that helps and engages your audience.
  • Make sure you’re writing for the web.
  • Obtain links and mentions from other authoritative spaces (in a White Hat way – Black Hat is dead)
  • Gain positive reviews about your business, such as using the Better Business Bureau.
  • Use an SSL certificate for your website (https://).
  • Especially after GDPR came into effect in April 2018, update your website’s privacy policy.

Before you create new content, you may also want to look at the content you currently have and see if it meets Google’s E-A-T standard. If it doesn’t, consider removing or updating it so it can help your website to rank higher.

Create a Conversation with Your Copywriting

It can be daunting to write engaging copy, especially if you’re a B2B business. How can you create effective content without losing your audience in a sea of jargon?

This is where conversational copywriting comes in. In essence, all copywriting should be conversational —where you're not trying to push your potential customers with "salesy" language. Instead, you imagine yourself authentically talking to your ideal audience as if you're sitting next to them. This is especially helpful as people are increasingly searching for websites in a conversational way via voice-first browsing.

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Marketing beyond keywords still involves keywords. But with a more holistic approach, you can high-quality content which converts and gives your website better page rank.

Summary

  • Keywords play a vital role in driving traffic through search engines

  • You want to make sure you use topic clusters when evaluating your keywords

  • When looking at your content, you should aim to create things around 1,000 words

  • You should use your copywriting as a way to tell a story

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