Hold onto your keywords because yet again, SEO has changed the playing field and this is a straight up game changer.
Search engine algorithms change, change, and change some more so frequently that it’s absolutely understandable if you’re not 100% up-to-date at all times; but that’s why we’re here to try and make it easy for you. Human search behaviours have changed, therefore the tech that we use to interpret and breakdown the search results have changed too.
Long-tail keyword optimisation is no longer en vogue and won’t get you the best ranking in search engine results, and it’s all because of the way we blog. That’s right, it’s our own fault. People are searching for longer, more specific or conversational search queries, with 64% of searches being four words or more in length; and the growing trend is getting specific with your searches so the returned information is exactly what you’re looking for.
Partially responsible in the blue corner, is Siri, Google and voice activated searches as that makes up about 20% of all searches. With Amazon Echo and Google Home devices on the up-and-up this is sure to continue raising those figures. On the other hand, hello red corner and what is simply information overload. There’s so much content out there, and don’t we know it—so we’re trying to narrow down those results by submitting more detailed searches, saving us time by filtering through the “junk.” Skimming and speed reading means we’re relying on headers and featured info to get simple answers rather than work for it ourselves.
Google is one smart little cookie (pardon the pun) because its algorithm is constantly evolving and learning. Searching for ‘running shoes’ will now provide you with results for ‘sneakers’ as well. This needs to be front of mind for bloggers and SEO, as gaps could prevent searchers from getting what they need from your site. Organising your site into main topics, then specific long-tail keywords and linking to one another will help users grab as much information as possible from your site.
Most blogs are structured to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords, with the result being fairly disorganised and hard-to-find information; not to mention your own URLs competing against one another in search engine ranking when you’re talking about producing multiple blog posts based around one central theme or idea. Enter—topic clusters.
In order to rank and be the “best answer” to the new types of searches, the topic cluster model (as seen below thank you HubSpot) will guide the way—and really it’s as simple as it looks. Choose your “themes” which is what the content will then be based off, then create that content based on specific keywords that relate back to the theme that will tie it all together, to create broader search engine authority.
This deliberate setup of organising and linking URLs, and using your site architecture to help create more pages on your site rank in Google will help searchers find information on your website much more easily. The three components of this setup are: pillar content, cluster content and hyperlinks.
A pillar page will cover all the aspects of the theme in a singular page, with more detailed cluster blog posts hyperlinked page to the pillar page. I.e. your pillar page could be ‘content marketing’ with the cluster posts honing in on blogging. the more specific keyword related topic. Pillar pages are going to be lengthy, they’ll cover off on all (or as much) of the information based on the “theme” as possible. These pages won’t necessarily be in-depth as that’s what the cluster pages are for, you want to make sure all topics within the broader theme of ‘content marketing’ are mentioned.
Creating tha pillar page involves thinking about all the themes that are relevant to your business/website; then start planning out your topics that will be based on more specific keywords relating to the overall theme for the cluster. Within your pillar of ‘content marketing’, using a topic of ‘social media’ is too broad, but ‘Instagram captions’ is too narrow; a nice balance in the middle is ‘Instagram marketing.’
Pillar pages will answer broadly what question a searcher might be looking for, which should prompt them to follow through to your cluster content which will deep-dive into the topic. Seem easy enough? It really is.. The key takeaway is to make sure you’re taking advantage of this new style of searching and ensuring your site is as optimised as possible.