Why We No Longer Stuff Keywords.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we have stuffing on our mind. Recently a client asked if we could add a list of keywords to a site. In the past, this was a common way of letting search engines know about the content of a website. But, crafty website owners started to take advantage of this by adding unrelated keywords to websites in order to get more traffic. The content became a side note as traffic increased and this practice started to cause an internet that was useless. Now, search engines consider the content, and how users interact with the content as the main driving force for search ranking.
There’s no such thing as adding search words to a website. That practice is called “keyword stuffing” and is now considered a bad practice. Now, content is king. There’s not a way to “technically” or “automatically” get your website on the first page of search results. To do this, we must lean into content creation, we must do it the hard way.
Essentially, search engines are trying to find the most authoritative content that is likely related to the search query, and is of the highest quality. This is because they want to provide a good user experience. Our aim as website owners is to convince these search engines that our content is the most authoritative, the highest quality, and related to the search query.
So, how do we make our content authoritative?
Search engines keep their algorithms fairly confidential, but there are a couple rules of thumb:
- Content should be original. Similar content that already exists on the internet is already considered more authoritative. In fact, if you re-publish content it may actually boost the original and not you… Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.
- Content should be fresh, meaning recently updated or part of ongoing public conversations. Recently published content is considered more authoritative. Content that mentions recent news, or is a take on current community conversations is likely going to perform better. Blog posts are a good way to do this.
- Content should be linked to. Search engines assume that if many sites link to your site, then you’re site is the authority on the subject. It’s better if the linking sites are related in some way to your content. The bigger the site, the more benefit you get.
- Content should be visited often. Search engines assumes that if a site gets visited often then the content is likely relevant. (web developers like me consider this bad, because it incentivises large sites over small sites… but alas, it’s how it works)
- Content should be high quality. Better quality content engages audiences for a longer time. If search engines see people spending a lot of time on a site, then they can assume the content is high quality and they’ll send people there.
How do we make our content high quality?
We need to know what people want to know. This seems obvious, but it’s not always related to our messaging. Website content starts with users. We need to know what they’re searching for, what answers exists, and what answers don’t. Then, we fill in the gaps. Some rules of thumb:
- Don’t regurgitate content. Content that already exists on the web is already more authoritative, gets more traffic, and is already visited. No need to add it again, you’ll get no traffic benefit and you’ll be wasting your time. Find your niche…
- You could use the “Skyscraper Technique”. Basically, find related content on other websites and then improve upon it. Offer visitors something more, something beyond what they’re currently getting. The content must be substantially better for this to work.
- Better yet, create content that doesn’t exist anywhere else. A good tool for finding such topics is https://answerthepublic.com/. This website provides questions related to a search term. Originality is key. Just make sure to use your researched search terms.
Search Engine Optimization, is an ongoing effort.
SEO is not something that can be implemented one time. A good process to follow is this:
- Research Search Terms (or keywords)
- Write content that includes those search terms and their latent semantic partners.
- Share that content as widely as possible, and get others to share via social media or other websites. (Email campaigns, website partners, social media networks, influencers, etc can all be utilized to drive traffic.)
- Measure engagement, make adjustments to keywords.
- Repeat, often.
Some good tools that we recommend:
- https://lsigraph.com/ – Finding LSI keywords.
- https://answerthepublic.com/ – Finding topics to write about.
- https://mind.sh/are/blog/ (this is a shameless plug, we’ve written about SEO a lot recently)
- then if you’re really into SEO: https://developers.google.com/search/docs (phew)
Of course, we’re happy to provide an estimate to implement quality SEO on your website. Just get in touch. SEO is best handled by a firm that specializes in SEO.