Here’s why content marketing is so critical to SEO…
In pursuit of ‘cleaning up the web’, Google introduced two major updates to their Algorithm titled ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’.
Panda was introduced to rate and monitor the ‘quality’ of web page content. Historically, the overuse of keywords within body copy, title tags and meta data was enough to achieve high rankings for targeted search terms. The Panda update introduced what we now know are ‘quality guidelines’ that include various factors Google uses to rate/award/demote web pages, hence the importance and priority we now allocate to content development, which is also an on-going SEO factor opposed to one-off projects.
Penguin can be likened to the ‘link police’ whereby non-relevant links (links from irrelevant websites) including overuse of keyword anchor links (both externally as links from other websites to yours and internally using keyword anchor links to link pages together), result in violations to quality guidelines. We suspect Penguin was introduced primarily to counter ‘Black Hat’ link strategies designed to manipulate algorithms in order to achieve rankings for targeted keywords, and thus heavily penalises sites that offer/sell paid links (also known as ‘link farms’).
Back in 2008, we saw the removal of keyword visibility for logged in users, which categorised all search terms under ‘not provided’. Google has now moved to completely remove all visibility for keywords regardless whether you are a logged in user or not.
Non-Google search terms will continue to show, which will primarily be limited to only ‘Brand’ terms.
Although this update to Analytics has caused lengthy debates within the SEO community, experienced SEO’s realise the relationship of this move between another recent update to the Google algorithm, Hummingbird.
Traditionally, SEO’s have used exact match keyword search volumes as the foundation for SEO activity, with an intentional mentality of optimising for ‘long-tail’ keywords to leverage, as much as possible, search volumes generated from the ‘Broad’ use of the keyword (search queries of any length/order that includes the target keyword).
When developing content using this method, content can often end up very one dimensional without a genuine focus on audience/user behaviour.
The Hummingbird update, unlike Penguin and Panda, is a complete re-write of how the Google search algorithm processes web pages. Google has picked up on how user behaviour has evolved in terms of ‘intention’ when using search engines to find desired content.
This has defined a new method of keyword research for SEO’s, whereby we are moving away from targeted one/two word keyword combinations and focusing more on longer strings of search queries which include questions, statements etc. This means we are now breaking apart these longer strings of search queries to identify ‘intention’ factors:
* What sort of content would answer this question?
* How do we approach content that provides this solution?
* What would be considered informative/valuable (socially sharable) content?
In terms of resource, there is still a wealth of tools we have at our disposal that work in perfect harmony with Google’s new Hummingbird environment.
Google AdWords Data
Luckily, nothing had changed for AdWords data. We still have 100% visibility across keyword search volumes including real-time search queries that trigger the keywords we target via Search Ads.
Google Analytics Real-time
This section within G.A allows us to see what web pages are being triggered from ‘not provided’ search terms, that provides clues in terms of what users are searching for find our content.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s diagnostic tool that provides a wealth of search queries triggered from organic traffic. An absolute must.
On-site Search Data
The most important element. On-site search queries, in some respects, defines the Hummingbird update and will help immensely when researching and structuring content.
Useful to monitor popular searches including forecasting.
Third Party Tools
Tools such as UberSearch that provides longtail Google Related searches delivering valuable intention insights.
Google Custom Segments
There a many custom segments we can setup to create tailored reports across content/landing pages/traffic to provide us user behaviour insights that contribute to aligning content development with user intention factors.
Includes search data from encrypted searches. While Bing does not deliver a significant amount of traffic, it is still a valuable platform for monitoring keywords.
By George Weir, Social Fabric