How to Organise Content for Better SEO Results
Learn how to organise your content to bring in organic traffic, making the best use of your keyword research for maximum visibility.
December 5, 2016
Keywords are dead. Long live keywords.
A decade ago, search engine algorithms relied on keyword frequency to judge how relevant content was for a given search term. That led to unscrupulous types boosting shallow content by stuffing in keywords—sometimes even adding a hidden text that was nothing but fluff.
That kind of stuffing doesn’t work anymore. Modern search engines place a premium on user behaviour. A shallow page stuffed with keywords will have low time-on-page and a high bounce rate, which will move it down in the rankings. We’re moving toward a much more human-friendly school of SEO.
That being said, keywords are still part of the SEO landscape. They’re just not the entirety of it. Think of keywords as giving a somewhat blurry “big picture” to search engines, which your content can bring into focus.
More sophisticated use of keywords gives your content an organic boost. If the content lives up to what your keywords promise, your readers’ interactions with the content will further boost your rankings.
Here’s how to start thinking about content from a modern SEO perspective.
1. Organise Keywords into Topic Groups
The process starts with in-depth keyword research, as described in the linked article. This research determines what topics you are going to cover and what phrases might lead searchers to your topic.
It seems logical to go straight from keywords to content, but there’s an important intermediate step. Building content around a single keyword phrase is far less effective than it used to be. Instead, organise keywords into three categories:
- Primary Keyword Phrase: The search term with the most volume and relevance to the content.
- Secondary Phrases: Similar in form and meaning to the primary phrase, but different enough to avoid repetition or unnatural prose.
- Tertiary Phrases: Different from the primary and secondary in form and meaning, pulling in broader aspects of the topic you’ll be covering.
For example, your primary phrase might be “Buyer negotiation tactics.” That’s the main topic of your content. Secondary phrases might include “Negotiation techniques,” and “Buyer negotiation tips.” Each of these phrases helps demonstrate the piece’s relevance to your primary phrase, without making the text feel stuffed with the word “tactics.”
Tertiary phrases might include “Price negotiation skills” and “Price negotiation tactics.” These phrases expand the vocabulary of your search terms without sacrificing relevancy.
Creating topic groups can give your content a chance at finding a much larger audience than a single keyword might bring in.
2. Use Keywords Strategically in Content
To be fully optimised, your content should include primary, secondary, and tertiary phrases. The way keywords are positioned in the content can send a strong signal of what queries the content is relevant for. Follow these guidelines to match your intent with SEO best practices.
Give your primary keyword phrase pride of place:
- In the title tag
- In your H1 heading tag
- In the first paragraph if possible
Use secondary phrases in your meta description and in the first couple of paragraphs. Then sprinkle in tertiary phrases as they fit, making sure to keep the prose natural and readable. Make sure your content is optimized for human readability first, then take the SEO into account.
3. Crosslink to Send Relevance Signals
Once you have your content optimised with strategically-placed keyword phrases, you can add crosslinking to extend the optimisation beyond the single piece of content.
Crosslinking creates a support network connecting each piece of content on your site to others. These links help readers take the next step, or get information about a related topic. In addition to these benefits, search engines use crosslinks to establish the credibility of a given piece of content.
Add links in existing content to your new post. These links will lend the new post credibility and help it get seen. At the same time, always include at least one link in the new post to existing content. It’s a good way to bring a new audience to old content while giving readers a logical next piece to read. A well-connected support structure keeps readers engaged with quality content, which increases your time on site, which increases your site’s authority with search engines.
As you can see, optimising SEO and optimising for readers are deeply connected. Providing a good audience experience can improve your ranking, and the steps you take to improve your ranking end up providing a better audience experience.
Start with topic research designed to create relevant content. Then use your keyword research to deploy keywords strategically in the content, using crosslinking to create a support structure. That way you’ll have content both humans and search engines can love.
To learn more about content marketing from research to amplification and beyond, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing.