Kategorie-Archiv: SEO

What Marketers Need to Know About the Latest Google Algorithm Update (March 2024)

The latest update to Google’s algorithm has potentially major implications for brands and marketers who are focused on showing up for their audiences in search. As with many recent updates, this one is designed to surface genuinely helpful results that align with search intent.

The March 2024 update to Google’s algorithm primarily targets low-quality, AI-generated content and spammy SEO techniques. Read on to learn more about what this means and how it impacts your SEO content strategy. First, a quick overview on the state of the Google algorithm, and why it is valuable to stay in the loop.

“The March 2024 core update is a more complex update than our usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems. It also marks an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content.” – Google

About the Google search algorithm

When it comes to search, Google is the primary gatekeeper between your content and your potential buyers. As of last year, Google was still processing 8.5 billion searches per day and HubSpot reports that, “While close to one in three consumers use social search to find answers, traditional search engines are still dominant, used by 88% of people.”

The last few core algorithm updates have been all about promoting better content. Each one has caused a shakeup in rankings — brands that enjoyed unassailable top spots lost positions, and new, more relevant content rose up the search engine results page (SERP).

The March update is no different. If you’re seeing changes in your content performance, here’s what you need to know.

What marketers need to know about the March 2024 core algorithm update

Algorithm updates are coming faster than ever. The last core update was in November, which was preceded by updates in October and August. These various enhancements from Google have openly shared a focus: increasing visibility of high-quality content that demonstrates experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). The latest follows a similar theme, but is more geared toward penalizing content that fails to meet these standards.

Key Facts to Know:

  • Name: Google March 2024 Core Algorithm and Spam Update
  • Launch Date: March 5, 2024
  • Rollout Duration: March through May 2024
  • Scope: A comprehensive update that evaluates all content types
  • Effect: Devalues low-quality content, including AI and spam.
  • Global Reach: Affects all regions and languages worldwide
  • Impact: High — could reduce prevalence of certain SERP results by 40%
  • Wide Influence: All sites are being analyzed under this new update
  • Recovery: If your site is affected, review your content and implement Google’s core update recommendations.
  • Ongoing Evolution: Google will continue to strengthen its algorithm against spammy SEO tactics and AI-generated content.

What’s included in the March 2024 core update

The new update includes two main components: a spam update (completed as of March 20, 2024) and a core update (currently rolling out). These changes are designed to help searchers “see more useful information, and fewer results that feel made for search engines.”

The core update focuses on filtering out low-quality, inaccurate or unoriginal content, especially pages that are generated by AI or those with poor E-E-A-T scores. Google shared that they expect these and previous changes to collectively reduce “low-quality, unoriginal content” in search results by 40%.

The spam policies target three manipulative SEO techniques that Google is aiming to halt:

  • Scaled content abuse: Use of AI to produce high volumes of low-quality content.
  • Site reputation abuse (parasite SEO): High authority websites that host third-party content with little editorial oversight can expect to be affected.
  • Expired domain abuse: Spammers who buy up expired domains to host low-quality content and get an initial boost will also be targeted with this update.

The big takeaway here is that if you’re trying to game the system, it’s a losing battle. With their wealth of resources and expertise, Google is constantly innovating their search engine to circumvent the new era of black hat SEO.

While incorporating AI into its own search experience, Google is taking active steps to ensure that unhelpful applications of the technology from others don’t diminish that experience.

What’s next for content marketers

As we often say, the secret to good SEO is quite simple: great content. Plenty of data and analysis should go into selecting the right keywords and how you approach them, but at the end of the day, quality is what matters most to rank. Focus on showcasing your brand’s expertise, building connections, and providing concrete value.

Do not use artificial intelligence to directly produce content. Generative AI can be helpful for content marketing in many ways, but only as a complement to human skill and perspective. Ultimately, this Google algorithm change should be good news for brands that place domain expertise at the heart of their content strategy. Your authentic and credible content will further differentiate you from competitors who might be drawn to the allure of spammy AI tactics.

How to respond to the spam update

The site reputation abuse and expired domain abuse updates are a bit more technical in nature, and could merit exploration if your brand posts content to third-party sites. If you’re concerned about how your website might be affected by these changes, you can get out in front of it with a thorough SEO audit.

Reviewing the latest updates:

At TopRank Marketing, we keep a close eye on the ever-changing Google algorithm so we can make sure our clients are in the loop. Here’s a rundown of the latest core updates and where they’ve focused.

November 2023

  • Name: Google November 2023 Broad Core Update
  • Launch Date: November 2, 2023, at around 11:30 am ET
  • Rollout Duration: Ended November 28, 2023
  • Scope: A comprehensive update that evaluates all content types
  • Effect: Higher ranking for high-quality content with an emphasis on firsthand content
  • Global Reach: Affects all regions and languages worldwide
  • Impact: High — over 10% of top 10 rankings are new
  • Wide Influence: Extends its impact to Google Discover, featured snippets, and more
  • Recovery: If your site is affected, review your content and implement Google’s core update recommendations
  • Ongoing Evolution: We can expect more core updates to come, focused on the goal of providing higher-quality content to searchers

October 2023

  • Name: Google October 2023 Broad Core Update
  • Launch Date: October 5, 2023, at around 12 pm ET
  • Rollout Duration: Anticipated to span one to two weeks
  • Scope: A comprehensive update that evaluates all content types
  • Effect: Not a penalty; it rewards high-quality web pages
  • Global Reach: Affects all regions and languages worldwide
  • Impact: Google hasn’t disclosed specific figures, but the impact seems wide-reaching, typical of core updates
  • Wide Influence: Extends its impact to Google Discover, featured snippets, and more
  • Recovery: If your site is affected, review your content and implement Google’s core update recommendations
  • Ongoing Evolution: Google will periodically refresh this algorithm, with potential future updates unannounced

Previous core updates

  • August 2023 Core Update: Rolled out from August 22 to September 7.
  • March 2023 Core Update: Rolled out from March 15 to March 28.
  • September 2022 Broad Core Update: Completed on September 26.
  • May 2022 Broad Core Update: A significant and fast update.
  • November 2021 Core Update: Impactful changes to search rankings.
  • July 2021 Core Update: Another important update.
  • June 2021 Core Update: A significant update that rolled out gradually.

Make your content algorithm-worthy

The path to performing better in search is two-fold: First, evaluate the content you have with an inventory and performance audit. Then develop a content strategy to create content that’s helpful to — and created by — humans.

Learn about TopRank’s SEO services and let our experts help you take the lead. We’ll get you started with a free SEO report card.

The post What Marketers Need to Know About the Latest Google Algorithm Update (March 2024) appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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What Makes a B2B SEO Content Strategy Unique?

TopRank Marketing has worked with clients in both the B2B and B2C realms over the last two decades. In that time, we have definitely witnessed the much-discussed convergence of these two previously diametric categories; the so-called consumerization of B2B.

But we also fully recognize the enduring factors that distinguish successful marketing in B2B versus B2C. Even as brands rightfully embrace the humanity of professional audiences, it still must be acknowledged that buyers in B2B experience contrasting motivations, challenges and dynamics in their journeys compared to consumers. The information B2B buyers seek out in making decisions, and the ways they search for it, remain very different from the standard B2C purchase.

Crafting a B2B SEO content strategy that fully accounts for the unique intricacies of this buyer journey holds the key to long-term digital growth.

Drawing the line between B2B and B2C SEO content

The defining difference between B2B and B2C is that one targets businesses and professionals, while the other targets individual consumers. A company’s SEO content strategy should be built around this core distinction.

Compared to B2C strategies, B2B SEO focuses more on reaching specific audiences through niche keywords and topics. The approach is guided by personas, which often span verticals, functions, or buying committee roles. In B2B, marketing goals are often more granular and incremental compared to simply generating an instant sale, so measurement is nuanced.

The content designed to fuel a B2B SEO strategy must then suit this purpose. It should be planned and crafted with these distinct priorities in mind.

5 critical cornerstones of a B2B SEO content strategy

Organic search traffic is immensely valuable to B2B companies, especially when their SEO strategy is designed to attract visitors based on search intent. These specialized B2B techniques will ensure you’re targeting the right keywords, attracting relevant traffic and driving valuable outcomes with your SEO content.

#1. Address the full funnel with your SEO content.

The 95-5 rule tells us that within any given B2B product category, only 5% of buyers are in-market and actively searching for a solution. That math may not be exact for every industry or niche, but the underlying premise is universal: No matter what you sell, a vast majority of your potential audience is not looking to buy at this moment.

Gaining visibility and familiarity with those who aren’t ready to make a purchase, but will be in the future, holds the key to sustainable long-term growth. Organic SEO content plays a powerful role in brand building, serving as perpetual magnets to attract visitors from the 95% out-market audience.

Upper-funnel keywords tend to have higher volumes and broader reach, meaning more opportunities to get your brand and message in front of key audiences. This, in turn, will set up lower-funnel content to be more effective.

#2. Build topical authority to establish your expertise.

The complexity and stakes of making a B2B purchase means the research process tends to be lengthy and thorough. Each challenge you can help solve has many dimensions to be explored. Using a cluster-based approach to provide comprehensive topical coverage helps your website gain authority.

This approach offers many benefits, but chief among them is the ability to rank and dominate share of search for topics that matter to your business. “Many of Google’s algorithm updates and statements have reaffirmed its preference for trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced publishers,” explains Semrush. “In other words: It favors content creators with topical authority.”

#3. Target long-tail keywords to address specific search intent.

This goes part and parcel with a cluster-based SEO content approach. Long-tail keywords are characterized by specificity: They tend to include more words and detail, adding another layer of depth beyond the main keywords they branch out from. An example of this might look like:

  • Head KW: “SEO strategy”
  • Long-tail KW: “how to develop an SEO content strategy in B2B healthcare”

By nature, long-tail keywords have lower volume, but higher intent – people running these searches are filtering and qualifying themselves as more relevant to your brand based on the information they are seeking.

A strong B2B SEO content strategy will feature a balance of head keywords and long-tail keywords to maximize both quantity and quality of organic search traffic.

#4. Focus on educational B2B SEO content and deliver value.

Google’s algorithm updates are openly intended to prioritize helpful content and provide satisfying experiences for users. Being too promotional or light on substance will impede your content’s ability to earn search rankings.

Because B2B purchases are so complex, there is ample room for education, and information is flowing at all times. Consider all the different roles and functions involved with a buying committee, and how much these stakeholders often have to educate one another. Your brand’s content can help greatly, building trust and relevance in the process.

Put user value at the center of your B2B SEO content. Offer clear and compelling insights or takeaways to help your audience accomplish their goals.

#5. Optimize and measure for a diverse range of conversion outcomes.

Effective SEO isn’t just about generating web traffic. What really matters is driving valuable results with that traffic, which is why it pays to be thoughtful about your conversion and measurement strategies.

What are the desirable outcomes for visitors at different stages of your marketing funnel? These might range from signing up for a newsletter to downloading an asset to signing up for a demo. Make sure you’re always offering an action that aligns with the intent of their search.

Strategic B2B marketing measurement accounts for all of the various conversion types, as part of the proven recipe for revenue and business growth. Marketing attribution can help you connect and weigh these different actions on the way to optimizing your efforts.

Organic SEO has a reputation for being difficult to connect to impact, but that’s only if you’re not taking the right steps to set up customized reporting and event tracking.

Set your B2B SEO content strategy up for success

Through all the algorithm changes and technology shifts, the fundamental premise of B2B SEO (or B2C SEO, for that matter) remains the same: create quality content based on reliable data around your personas, keywords and industry.

From there, it’s all about optimizing around your buyer journey and meeting the unique needs of your audience.

Learn about the many ways in which TopRank Marketing can help you step up your B2B SEO game.

The post What Makes a B2B SEO Content Strategy Unique? appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Should You Still Use Twitter (X) for B2B Marketing?

Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter and rebranded it “X,” it seems like a day can’t go by without the social media platform making headlines.

In the wake of increasing controversies including a substantial rise in bot traffic and hate speech, scores of users and companies are reassessing their relationship with X. Most recently, more than 100 of X’s most prominent advertisers, including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Netflix have indefinitely paused advertising after Musk posted an endorsement of an anti-semitic conspiracy theory.

Given how volatile the platform has become, it’s understandable if you’re reconsidering how you use X for your B2B marketing initiatives. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

X can still be a valuable tool for B2B marketing under the right circumstances. Whether or not it still makes sense for you comes down to how you’re using the platform, what you’re promoting, and – most importantly – to whom you’re promoting it.

We may not be able to tell you whether it makes sense for you to keep using X outright, but we can help you figure it out for yourself. Try answering each of the following questions to determine whether the platform still has something to offer your B2B marketing.

Is your audience still active on X?

As with any channel you’re considering using, this is the most important question to ask. If your audience is sticking with X, then you probably should too.

You can first evaluate whether the platform is still driving significant traffic to your website and landing pages. If you run ads, are they delivering results?

Beyond metrics, the best way to figure out if your audience is still on X is to look up decision maker’s profiles. Check their activity on the platform to see how frequently they post and — even more importantly — how frequently they react and respond to other posts. You should also see how many of these decision makers already follow you. If you already have an audience on X, you shouldn’t give that up.

If you’re not sure about whether relevant decision makers are still on X, consider recent X demographics as compiled by Pew Research Center. According to their findings:

  • The most common age group of X users in the US is 18 to 29 years old (42% of respondents)
  • More men use X than women (26% vs. 19% of respondents in the US)
  • X users in the US are more likely to live in the suburbs (26%) or cities (25%) than in rural locations
  • Adults with higher incomes use X at slightly higher rates

Reassess who you’re trying to connect with on X and why. If your goals still make sense and seem achievable based on who’s still active X, consider keeping your marketing on. Otherwise, ask yourself the rest of these questions:

Are your competitors still on X?

Are the brands you’re competing with still maintaining an active presence on X? Even more importantly: what are they using X for, exactly? If they’ve actively promoting their services, live tweeting news and events, and responding to other posts to start conversations, then chances are they’re still achieving their goals on the platform.

If they’ve stopped posting as frequently and they rarely respond to other posts, however, then chances are they’re downscaling their involvement.

If your competition is still active on X, then you should strongly consider remaining there, as well. Even if X’s influence is waning, it is still a primary social media channel. Pulling out of a major channel while your competition remains there means ceding the share of voice that the channel provides to them. As your posts disappear and your competition’s continue, your audience will begin to associate your brand with your category less and start to think of your competition first instead.

Do you live-tweet events and breaking news?

For a long period, Twitter was the go-to social media platform for keeping up with news and events as they happened. In an October 2022 survey by Hootsuite, many more Twitter users said they use the platform to “keep up to date with news and current events” than for any other purpose (61.2% vs. 38% for the next most-popular usage).

The rapid-fire nature of tweeting made it easy and engaging to watch reactions to events and news as they unfolded, making Twitter especially popular during major cultural events such as the Super Bowl. This use of Twitter has largely continued following the X rebranding. That means using X to contribute to unfolding conversations about events and news as they occur could still be a very valuable application of the platform.

Of course, whether or not that matters to your brand depends on how valuable it would be for you to do this. Do you think your audience is interested in your brand live tweeting industry events and news? Do they follow industry hashtags and contribute to ongoing discussions?

If you’ve ever benefited from being active on Twitter during a major industry event, then there’s reason to believe that you’ll continue to benefit from doing the same thing on X. If your audience isn’t engaged with ongoing news and events in your industry, however, this may not be a reason to stick around.

Can you use it to provide better customer service?

Thanks in large part to social media platforms like X, brands have never been more publicly and immediately available to consumers.

These days, many customers aren’t interested in sending emails to support or going through an online portal to get answers to their questions and concerns. Instead, they might direct-message the brand on social media or even call them out publicly. Threatening as this may sound, it can also be a great opportunity.

Every time your B2B customers interact with your brand on social media, you have a chance to provide an excellent customer service experience.

First, ask: do your customers reach out to you on X at all? Do you want them to? If your customers reach out with legitimate, good-faith questions and concerns, providing them quick help can be a great way to prove to your audience that you’re looking out for them. If you can’t help solve their problems, however, then responding might only make that clearer.

What is your budget and bandwidth?

Finally, it’s worth considering how X fits into your social media marketing budget. If you’re already tight on money or time, then you should consider prioritizing only the most important social media platforms for achieving your goals — whether that’s X or not.

If you have budget and bandwidth to spare, on the other hand, then it’s worth continuing to experiment with X. Try posting new things, interacting with your audience more frequently, and live tweeting events with their hashtags. If you don’t see any positive effects from your efforts, you can always scale back later — and then at least you’ll know.

Even amid its seemingly never-ending controversy, X can still be a valuable tool for B2B marketing for some brands. If your audience is there and you’ve got something to tell them, consider keeping the account active a little longer. Otherwise, it may be time to move on.

If you want help managing your social media — or any other aspect of your B2B marketing — the experts at TopRank Marketing are ready to help.

The post Should You Still Use Twitter (X) for B2B Marketing? appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Age of SGE: How Will AI Affect Search Traffic in the Next Decade?

Ever since advancements in technology thrust generative AI into the public consciousness, it’s been the subject of unending controversy. Much of this controversy centers on its potential impact on the internet, with some news outlets and experts going so far as to describe it in near-apocalyptic terms.

AI is killing the internet” became a common refrain in those early days, speaking to the dread and apprehension being felt regarding its disruption to the way things have been done online.

Given all this concern, it’s not surprising that Google’s bold new foray into generative AI, Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) has elicited big reactions. With search engines and SEO being such a core aspect of digital marketing, there’s understandably a lot of attention being paid to the ripple effects of this evolution in search.

As a marketer, here’s what you need to know about Google SGE and the broader impact of AI on search.

What is Google SGE?

Google Search Generative Experience is Google’s new approach to incorporating generative AI into their search algorithm. When in use, SGE will provide an “AI-powered snapshot” of information requested in a query at the top of the resulting search engine results page (SERP). These snapshots will provide a quick overview of the topic, with information collected, composited, and arranged from top results by the generative AI.

The screenshot below, from Google’s overview of SGE, provides an example of what one of these AI-powered snapshots looks like:

Reactions to Google SGE

Google SGE has received significant attention and criticism, primarily focused on how the tool will disincentivize users from actually clicking through to the websites surfaced in the search.

The Atlantic, which says it gets up to 40% of its current traffic from Google, recently published an analysis on the subject and concluded: “75% of the time, the AI-powered search would likely provide a full answer to a user’s query.” As a result, Wall Street Journal reported that publishers expect to lose “between 20% and 40% of their Google-generated traffic” in a post-SGE landscape.

Other publishers and SEO experts are less concerned. While Forrester Research Senior Analyst Nikhil Lai was recently quoted by Reuters saying SGE is “definitely going to decrease publishers‘ organic traffic, and they’re going to have to think about a different way to measure the value of that content if not click-through rate,” he also said he believes appearing in the new SGE-provided summaries will help protect and enhance publisher reputation.

Some SEO experts even believe that Google SGE could represent a new opportunity to rank for brands and publishers that may have previously lacked the authority to appear in the top 10.

How generative AI will affect search traffic in the next decade

There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to Google SGE. As one publisher interviewed by Reuters shared: “The new AI section is a black box for us. We don’t know how to make sure we’re a part of it or the algorithm behind it.”

The overarching reality: In the coming years, brands will likely see a collective decrease in traffic sourced to search engines. This owes in part to AI and changes to the makeup of SERPs, but it also relates to evolving habits of users (e.g. using TikTok for search).

Even if overall search volume decreases to some degree in the coming years, that doesn’t mean SEO’s strategic role in digital marketing will be diminished. Google will remain a powerhouse driver and director of web traffic. Staying aligned with its guidelines and priorities will help you continue to grow your authority and attract high-quality visitors.

By referencing the history of Google algorithm updates, along with the ultimate goals and purpose of the search engine, we can start to chart a path forward for SEO in the age of AI.

Ranking highly in SERPs will become even more important

As the screenshot above indicates, SGE summaries take top billing on SERPs, above even sponsored content. With less space to list organic rankings after sponsored content, some results that would have previously been on page one will slip to page two.

Given how few people navigate to page two of any SERP result, this means Google SGE will likely have a somewhat counterintuitive effect: it will make SEO even more important.

While SERP organic results may be receiving fewer clicks overall, the pages that are getting clicks will be on page one … and competition to appear on page one will be fiercer than ever.

Meanwhile, Google SGE summary results are primarily useful for informational queries: users just looking to have a question answered may be able to get what they need from the AI-generated summary. For users with commercial intent, however — such as, individuals searching for complex information about B2B challenges and solutions — organic results will still be the place to look.

Authoritative, in-depth content will gain demand

Google became the search engine juggernaut it is today precisely because it was able to provide the most relevant content for users. Each of its updates over the years has focused on refining the search engine’s algorithm to serve results in accordance with Google’s “E-E-A-T” rating guidelines: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

As Google assured in their overview of SGE, the search engine remains committed to these guidelines when providing all information on their SERPs — including and especially the information their generative AI model produces. Whatever ways in which Google updates Google SGE in the future, you can bet they’ll be focused on making sure it provides authoritative best answer information; their reputation hinges on it.

Embodying E-E-A-T principles in all your content will become all the more important. SEO techniques like link-building and utilizing semantically related keywords will be key to demonstrating authority and winning placements within AI summaries.

Helpful, expert-sourced content will rise above the rest

Google SGE presents a unique opportunity for B2B creators. Compared to most B2C content, B2B content is more complex, niche, and difficult to summarize. AI will have a limited ability to offer adequate information to informed B2B audiences, especially if those audiences include buyers looking to make critical purchasing decisions.

As a result, there is reason to expect substantial, renewed demand for content that explores B2B topics in-depth from an expert point of view. As Google’s SGE provides only top-level summaries, audiences will crave deeper insights and guidance on topics that matter to them. They’ll likely spend more time using SGE’s new features to refine their searches while they look for information curated for them specifically.

If you can provide this information, you can form stronger relationships with your audience faster, establishing yourself as a go-to source for reliable information in your business category. At TopRank Marketing, we often say that increased direct traffic is a great long-term outcome from successful SEO, because it can mean your audience starts bypassing searches (and AI results) to visit your website directly.

Know your audience and what they need

As the search landscape evolves with the rapid expansion of generative AI, we continue to believe that understanding and harnessing search intent holds the key to driving valuable organic traffic going forward. While Google SGE may be able to synthesize and summarize results on higher-level topics, your organization can differentiate with expert, in-depth content that speaks to your audience and their unique needs.

Additionally, make sure you’re continually exploring alternative channels as part of your marketing strategy. As search habits evolve, staying innovative will ensure your audience can continue to discover your content, whether that’s through Google, social media, email, trade publications, or paid media.

Download our guide, Marketing with Intent, to learn more about creating a future-proof SEO strategy within this framework.

The post Age of SGE: How Will AI Affect Search Traffic in the Next Decade? appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Why You Need a Keyword Strategy and How to Create One

Trying to build an SEO strategy without a keyword strategy is like trying to build a plane without wings. It’s going nowhere.

Expert-led keyword research and planning are foundational to successful SEO, no matter the business, industry, or audience. This multifaceted process sets the stage for your brand to grow its digital footprint, helping you understand exactly the topics, questions and pain points you need to address with your content.

What is a keyword strategy in SEO?

Keywords are the terms, phrases and queries that users enter into search engines to surface relevant content. Brands and marketers use keyword strategies to gain a grasp of which keywords they should be focusing on, and how to earn visibility for them.

Not only are keyword research and planning essential for informing your SEO strategy, they also provide crucial insights for your broader marketing and business development. Understanding how people search for your solutions, where search demand exists, and how keywords are trending has deeply valuable implications.

Why many keyword strategies are lacking

When SEO is not delivering results as a marketing team hopes, the core issues can often be traced back to a keyword strategy that isn’t quite right. Pursuing the wrong opportunities leads to a lot of waste and frustration.

There are two prevalent challenges that brands encounter with their keyword strategies, in our experience:

  1. Lack of specialized expertise. SEO is as much an art form as a science. While tools like Semrush, Moz and Google Keyword Planner are helpful, it takes real skill and experience to turn their capabilities into action and impact. High-caliber SEO specialists are in short supply.
  2. Lack of maintenance and agility. Many companies are still operating with the same keyword list they developed years ago. That just doesn’t work in an environment where everything is changing, all the time.

With so many organizations getting stuck in the mud at this critical step, it is no surprise one recent UK study found that two-thirds of businesses are unhappy with their SEO strategy. But the good news is that it’s never too late to revisit your keywords and get on track.

Building an effective SEO keyword strategy

Identifying target keywords, contextualizing them, prioritizing them, and developing a clear plan to win (and maintain) rankings are all part of a full-fledged keyword strategy. At TopRank Marketing, we focus on these five core steps:

Keyword research

Keyword research sets the roadmap that your entire strategy will follow. The process involves identifying and analyzing keywords that will guide your planning. These phrases and queries all relate in some way to your buyer’s journey. To substantiate your best opportunities, you’ll want to gather data around search volumes, current rankings, keyword difficulty, SERP landscapes, and more.

The goal of keyword research is to understand the language and terms your target audience uses, allowing you to optimize your SEO content accordingly.

Gap analysis is a key aspect of keyword research, offering a clear view of where your best untapped SEO opportunities lie. Learn about this and other SEO services from TopRank Marketing.

Competitive analysis

After selecting keywords and topics that your brand wants to show up for, the next step is to get a full view of what you’re up against. An expert dive into the data can tell you what keywords your competitors are targeting, which audiences they’re focusing on, and how you can gain an edge.

Topical mapping

A topical map, as defined by Similarweb, “is a strategic map that outlines all the SEO content you need to cover the length and breadth of an entire topic. Your topical map doesn’t only include what content you need to create but also organizes it into a topic/subtopic hierarchy.”

An important thing to recognize about modern SEO is that “keyword” is a bit of a misnomer, lingering from the internet’s early days when single-word searches were common. Google is now much more concerned with semantic search, and serving results based on user intent and behavior. In many cases, a keyword will actually be a string of words aligning to specific prompts or questions entered by users.

Topical maps branch out from head keywords into related semantic long-tails that explore sub-topics in further depth. Our agency uses this method to help clients build topical authority and earn rankings for their most valuable keyword clusters.

Search intent analysis

It’s helpful to gather as much intel as possible around keyword search intent so you can plan and craft content accordingly. Topical mapping plays a key role by illustrating how different keywords are connected and grouped by intent, but there are other valuable audience-centered insights to inform your keyword strategy.

For example, what is the user trying to accomplish by running a search for this keyword? From a marketing standpoint, search intent can fall into four different categories, aligning roughly to the funnel:

  • Informational (upper funnel)
  • Navigational (upper funnel)
  • Commercial (mid funnel)
  • Transactional (lower funnel)

Reporting and optimization

A lack of ongoing attention and proactivity is a major pitfall in many keyword strategies. Keeping a vigilant eye on your rankings and performance will help you stay on top of opportunities and minimize lapses as the landscape evolves.

Note that negative keyword trends don’t always (or even usually) mean you’re doing something wrong. All SEO strategies are at the whim of outside forces. In many cases, declines are driven by reduced search demand for specific keywords, algorithm changes, or dated content. You can spot these instances quickly with keyword reporting, and optimization can help you regain lost ground.

Modernize your SEO keyword strategy

The qualities of an effective keyword strategy have transformed over the past 10-15 years, from keyword stuffing to honoring user intent. As search engines become more sophisticated, we’re also moving from short, generic keywords to specific and semantic long-tails. Other trends like AI, local SEO and voice search are also impacting the way businesses approach their keyword strategies.

Expert oversight and continual maintenance will help ensure you’re targeting the right terms and taking the right steps to capture them.

Learn more about the best practices of modern B2B search engine optimization.

The post Why You Need a Keyword Strategy and How to Create One appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com