Web Content: Should you focus on keywords or topics?

We all want our web pages and blog posts to reach our prospects. The trick is how to make that happen. The classic method is to find keywords and build our content around them. We would then sprinkle the keywords in our content. We use the keywords in our page or post name, in the page or post title, as well as in the meta description.

This technique still has a place; but, search engines are getting more intelligent. In the past search engines created lists of words and created indexes of web pages that contained those words.  They looked at keyword density and other factors to rank the pages with the keywords, and viola, here is your list of search results.

The results produced by this process did not always produce the best answers.  Results rankings were subject to gaming by keyword stuffing and other SEO techniques. Search engines are now using AI and more sophisticated search algorithms.   These derive the focus and meaning of your pages and posts. The search engine uses this information to deliver better results.  There have also been changes at the user end. The search engine will use your search phrase to determine your actual question.  They then answer your question by delivering a meaningful list of search results.

How does this impact how you write content for your pages and posts? The change is more in process than focus. Your goal remains to get your content in front of your audience. But you also want to meet their needs when they do arrive. To meet these goals, you must take a few steps back, so you can see the larger picture. I suggest the following process.

Step 1. Ignore keywords and think about the problem I am going to solve, or the need I am going to meet. For example, “I am going to provide great tasting pizza that uses wholesome ingredients”.  How does someone who wants great tasting pizza with wholesome ingredients find them?  Next you need to think of all the ways that this product is delivered. For example, are you offering a dine in experience, delivery, or frozen pizza in the grocery store (I know, work with me here!). Think about where you are offering your product. No matter how great your pizzeria in Cleveland it is of no interest to someone in Dallas.

Step 2. I have now thought about how my prospect will find my product to meet his need. We know what is important to him, location, delivery method, ingredients.  We can now sit in front of our keyboard and pound out great content and be all set, correct? Well, not exactly. Now is the time to sit down in front of our keyboard and write our first draft. Write your content and then review it.

Does it answer all your prospects questions so that he can decide to become a customer?  Does your content show your commitment to quality and service? Is your content complete?  Will search engines value your content as useful and comprehensive?  (We will look at long form content with another article.) If your answer is yes, you are ready to move to the next step in your content creation journey.

Step 3. Steps 1 and 2 should yield content that will meet the needs of your prospects IF THEY FIND IT. I have now created great content that addresses the concept and topic of the need you are meeting. In this step I will move to a hybrid process in which I take my created content and do my keyword research. The goal is to make the keywords serve me, instead of me serving the keywords. Do not start out with a list of must have keywords. This will usually result in stilted and un-natural sounding content.

Look at the themes and concepts in the content and find keywords that serve the intent of the article. Find keywords that support the topic and focus of my page or post. Now that I have a list of keywords that I should be using I will analyze them for quality.  Look at their search volume. Look at the keyword difficulty. Look at each keyword’s click through rate.

This is old school SEO keyword research and it is still important. I now know which keywords are reflective of my content and have the best chance of success in meeting my goals. I use this knowledge to edit my content to include the keywords I have chosen. While editing I make sure that I do not damage the quality or clarity of my content when including my keywords.

This process will create content that meets your, and your prospects needs. If you have questions, let us know and we can talk about how we can help you.