For a long time, strategies for on-page search engine optimization (SEO) have always started with a focus on one specific element: keywords. Most early SEO plans could be boiled down to selecting the search terms to target and then create content pieces that use those precise keywords as much as possible. Although both Google’s algorithms and best-practice SEO strategies have matured over time, many brands still apply a keyword-first approach when planning for on-page search engine optimization. Your brand may be one of them.
Users of Google and other search engines are using search in dramatically different ways — and the search engines have responded to these changes. Content that focuses purely on using a single keyword or keyword phrase is no longer enough to secure those coveted top position search results for your brand. Although search engines increasingly rely on machine learning, the result is search that is more human and personalized.
In order to plan an effective on-page SEO strategy, your approach should begin with a focus on your customers rather than on keywords. Where the keyword-first system is centered on the terms you hope will lead to a sale, customer-first SEO is about providing the content those customers are actually trying to find. Consistently providing this relevant content will not only bring potential leads to your brand but will also help you to improve your search engine ranking in your industry.
Transferring your SEO focus from keywords to customers is not always an easy transition to make. The following tactics will help you develop on-page search strategies and campaigns that centered around the questions and needs that your customers have.
Start With Keyword Research: Even when starting with a customer-focused approach, keyword research is essential to effective SEO strategy. Insights from keywords can help you learn more about your target audience, including their needs and areas of interest. This information about the searchers can help you build a content strategy that addresses those areas directly.
Make Content Reader-Friendly: Longer, more thorough content pieces might seem to be the most effective in proving the value of your content, but they aren’t always the most effective in engaging your audience. By visually breaking up that content with elements like bulleted lists, photos, infographics and block quotes, you can share the same information in a more compelling, human-friendly manner.
Take Advantage of Featured Snippets: You’ve probably already seen Google’s Featured Snippets in your own searching — the “answer boxes” that appear just above the regular search results, providing an answer on the results page. By identifying the right opportunities, especially with DIY, health or finance information, and providing concise but complete answers to questions around your best keywords, you can improve your chances of being featured in this space.
For 2018 and looking forward, your search engine optimization strategy must begin with a clear focus on your customers if it is going to be successful. While keywords still have their use, concentrating your efforts on answering lead questions and meeting your needs will provide the more personal, more organic content that you need to raise your SEO ranking and hold those higher positions.
Performance, The Winning Curve