Did you know there is now 1 website for every 4 people in the world? This is a crazy statistic, but it also explains why businesses are continuously having to review their marketing strategies – if they don’t, they run the risk of becoming invisible.
One way to increase the visibility of your website is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, even SEO is becoming much more difficult as people strive to rank higher in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Additionally, we have to take into account the fact that search engine factors are becoming more advanced and Google is releasing more algorithm updates than ever before.
Google plays a huge role in increasing the reach of businesses all over the world – it ensures that businesses get the exposure they deserve so that they can grow their clientele. Therefore, in an effort to improve SEO, Google regularly updates its algorithms to meet the needs of the everchanging market. So, if a business wants to remain afloat, it has to evolve with the times. One of the trends taking the SEO sector by storm at the moment is contextual content.
What is contextual content?
A few years back, to rank highly in SERPs, all people did was stuff keywords into their content. Therefore, it was a common phenomenon to find that the top-ranking websites contained nothing more than a confused bundle of keywords with very little valuable content. To find content that was relevant to their needs, users had to scroll through the results pages.
Context, however, is now leading the way. Contextual content is authoritative, timely and relevant content that has been optimized to appear where and when a user might need it, largely based on their search history. And this is the direction Google is currently heading down.
After its introduction, many people thought contextual content would affect Search Engine Optimization. However, this hasn’t been the case. If businesses want to rank highly in the SERPs, they need to make room for this new approach. For content marketers, contextual content has presented an opportunity to become more visible. Most content marketers already have the content that users need; all they need to do now is learn how to make themselves seen.
How Google changed its search strategy
Google now recognizes long-form content as a mark of quality, as it allows businesses to provide more value to their audience. The aim of long-form posts is not to provide content that reaches a certain word count just for the sake of it but to deliver more informative content no matter how many words this requires. This approach is a good thing and does not necessarily make SEO experts obsolete, as the most effective techniques in SEO, such as keyword inclusion, are still valuable.
How does contextual content work?
Google wants to understand the user’s intent when they’re searching in order to provide the best possible answer to their query. To do this, they need to not only understand the content of the query but also the context. For example, somebody organizing a party in New York is unlikely to perform just one search on one day. Instead, they will perform a number of searches over a period of time, with each one linking to the context of planning the party.
For example, they might search for ‘caterers in New York’, ‘party dresses’ and ‘DJs in New York’. Separately, we might not spot the connection, but when the indirect meaning of the searches is interpreted, we can see they are all steps in planning a party. Moving forward, Google hopes to make search results predictive – so they’ll know what you’re searching for before you’ve even thought of it!
Ultimately, the benefit of contextual content is helping the user get more accurate and faster results based on their query.
So, now that you know context is king, how do you search engine optimize your content to get the best results?
1. Decide on the keywords to use
The first thing that marketers and content writers should do is decide on the keywords that are most valuable to them and their goals. Thankfully, there are several tools on the market which can help you do this. The most popular one is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This tool is easily accessible as long as you have an AdWords account, and the concept behind it is simple: determine which keyword is essential to your business, and then type this keyword into the tool. Google will then generate a list of words which are similar to your keyword that people generally search for.
This is a handy tool for content writers since you not only get a list of valuable keywords, but you also get a better understanding of what your audience typically searches for. Once you do this, you can then go on to add the most relevant keywords to your Keyword Planner – remember to look for contextual keywords that can be applied to specific events, activities, holidays, seasons or occasions. Exercise caution when doing this, as some keywords may be almost exactly alike, so adding both of them would be unnecessary.
This process aims to come up with a substantial list of keywords that connects you to your niche market or audience via Google. After doing this, AdWords has an export function that allows you to export the list as an Excel file.
2. Determine where you rank in the SERPs
Keywords help you rank better on Google, so after determining your main keywords, the next step is to use a tool that can help you monitor your ranking. Various tools in the market can help you do this, such as Positionly, Moz, and RavenTools. For beginners, the best tool is Positionly, as it is more straightforward. With Positionly, you can keep track of changes every day, and see how your competitors are performing. On top of this, Positionly also offers services such as:
• Website optimization grading
• White labeling
• Automated reports
• Competitor analysis
However, one of the cons of using Positionly is the frequency of data. There are days where you might log in and discover that your rankings on various keywords have dropped without any logical explanation, although this is not as dire as it appears.
3. Make sure you get the content type right by considering user intent
One of the essential points to remember in content creation is that you should never generate any content without identifying user intent first. This is an excellent practice to adopt, as it will help you to match context with content and identify some possible content ideas.
For example, your keywords might include bathroom remodeling, bathroom sinks, bathroom toilets etc. Now, think about these words as they relate to the user’s intent. Who is the target audience? What do they want? What is the intent of their search? More specifically, you need to ask:
• Where do they live?
• What do they want from you?
• Do they want a quote or decorating tips?
• When are they looking for your services?
• Is their bathroom in total disrepair or does it just need a facelift?
When you consider all these questions, your content will need to be either transactional (intended to drive a sale), promotional (giving something for free, like an eBook, in exchange for a commitment from them), or educational (articles and blog posts relating to the what, why, when and where of their initial search). However, it can be a combination of all three.
4. Include your content ideas and keywords in your editorial calendar
Once you have determined what your content type should be, you can proceed to include your keywords within any copy you produce. One strategy that you can adopt to accomplish this is concentrating on one keyword every week and adding it to your content. To remind yourself, you should make a note of this on your editorial calendar, which will help you plan accordingly. This is great for seasonal keywords, and once you add them to your schedule, your editorial team can make use of certain keywords once the time comes – this is a big tick for contextual content!
Preplanning your keywords beforehand makes you more organized, and enhances the efficiency of your content marketing. Once you have come up with your keyword goals, it is essential that you keep referring back to Positionly to ensure that your keywords are still performing well. It will also point out where you need to improve.
5. Optimize your content to suit your keywords
Once you have selected and scheduled your keywords, the next step is to ensure that your content correctly matches your keywords. Several tools can assist you with this. They include the Scribe plugin by Copyblogger and WordPress SEO, developed by Yoast. If you have budget constraints, then Yoast is the best alternative for you as it is a free plugin, and allows you to do 90% of the work without having to pay a cent. Moreover, it is also easy to use.
Both plugins work the same way. At the start of your content generation, you first have to declare the keyword phrase that you intend to use. Once you have generated your content, the plugin will then tell you how well your content matches your keywords. The plugin assesses your post using the following factors:
1. Article headline: It will check to see if the keyword phrase is in the title of your post.
2. Page title: Your page title is the small amount of text that appears in the browser tab. It is essential to include the exact keyword phrase in full in the page title.
3. Page URL: The slug of your URL should include your keyword. WordPress allows you to customize the URL before you even post your content.
4. Content: Both tools require that you include the keyword in the main body of your content, but you shouldn’t stuff them. You can also include keywords in the various subheadings that you have outlined in your content to get additional recognition.
6. Ensure that your site works well using SEO friendly plugins
Even though most of the tricks that were previously used for SEO no longer work, there are still several of them that you can adopt. The reason behind this is the fact that most SEO is handled within the page itself. Therefore, if you do not structure and optimize your website effectively, improving your ranking will be much harder than it should be. With the help of Positionly, you can quickly determine how your site performs. Additionally, there are several plugins that you can use to help you properly maintain your website.
This is a plugin for WordPress that can impact the speed with which your site operates. Unlike other plugins, it does not affect the functionality of your website.
In-depth article generator
This plugin adds metadata to your page to better your ranking on the SERPs. Furthermore, it also has the added advantage of being simplistic in design and is easy to use.
The future of SEO: Getting contextual with your content
Many people think that with the rise in contextual content, SEO is dead. But it has simply changed, and content creators have to evolve with the times. By combining contextual content with several SEO techniques, you can significantly increase your visibility in the market.