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How to Amplify SEO to Rank Well on Today’s Smart Search Engines

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the deluge of SEO information?

You’ve got the basics down, but every day there’s something new; more content spewing from the blogosphere, speculating about what Google will do next and how SEO is changing.

This constant rush of information can cause anxiety and uncertainty among marketing teams that just want to gain exposure and revenue. When you start to feel buried, just remember that all of these changes are minor adjustments to the direction search engines have been heading in for years.

So, what does Google want from your website?

It wants great communication. It wants fresh, unique information that’s easy to find and valuable. It wants crawlers to easily understand your content and how it fits with user intent. It wants hints in the code that help crawlers prioritize the pages on your site.

SEO is changing only in that users and search engines are getting better at communicating with each other. By understanding a few concepts, you can make your website a better communicator, too, and become a highly-ranked, go-to destination — for both B2B and B2C SEO.

How to Implement a More Meaningful Keyword Strategy

On-page SEO is not dramatically different than it was five years ago. You still need keyword-focused page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and content, and they still need to communicate meaning to search engines. What has changed is Google’s expanded ability to understand what people want when they search, and semantic search is a big part of learning SEO.

Semantic search is the ongoing effort by Google, Yahoo and Bing to improve search engine results pages through better understanding of the contextual meanings behind user queries. Spurred by Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013, semantic search helps search engines focus on individual words in a query and how they are arranged to convey meaning.

Making sure your content communicates meaning is more important than ever. So what should you do differently?

Find Associated Words

It’s no longer enough to pick through Google Keyword Planner and choose keywords with the highest search volume. You need to gather related terms that people think of when they search for core keywords, i.e. how different humans might search for the exact same content.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Brainstorm with your staff and write down as many word associations as you can

  • Look at competitor websites and see what related topics they’re writing about

  • Follow influencers on social media, and keep an eye on hashtag feeds on Twitter and Instagram

  • Look up industry terms on search engines and see what related searches they suggest

  • Research topics in your industry forums

  • Use SEO and keyword research tools like SEMRush, Word Tracker and Ubersuggest

Sort by Relevancy

Now that you have a broader list of keywords, you need to sift through them and find the gems that will help you convert customers. Focus on quality rather than just search volume. A good, niche long-tail keyword is often more valuable than several root keywords, especially the ones that signal commercial intent. Someone who searches “get an interior painting quote” is likely in the market to buy, and a local painting company might want to optimize a page for that person.

Build Your Pages for Smarter Search Engines

Search engines are getting better at understanding context and user intent. So, how can you make content that communicates with a smarter search engine?

  • Use long-tail keywords: These keywords are specific. Often phrased in the form of questions, they offer more context than other keywords and are more likely to convert.

  • Use synonyms and related topics: Include words that often appear alongside your keywords online. It will add more meaning to your content, which search engines may recognize.

  • Use schema markup: Schema markup allows you to insert microdata into your HTML code, helping search engines get a deeper understanding of your content. These values let you isolate information on your page and tell search engines what your content means instead of just what it says.

If you’re operating in a competitive marketplace, it can be extremely difficult to reach top organic search rankings. However, you can grow your website by focusing on niche keywords that have a high commercial benefit and low difficulty score. Then you can craft your content so that it speaks to search engines more effectively than your competitors.

For more information and insights regarding advanced ecommerce SEO, download the free guide below.

Patrick Dodge avatar

Patrick Dodge is a marketer in Burlington, Vermont who helps businesses create deeper relationships with customers using website development, SEO and content marketing.