From Keywords to Topics: The Shift in Search

Search engine algorithms are continually changing. Nowhere is this better represented than by Google, the search engine leader. Whereas only a few years ago spamming a lot of text in a white font color at the bottom of the page might have been the trick, things have drastically changed since. While many businesses are still seeking to become the Google online leader, most entities are still running into the same issues. Whether it is difficulty in determining ROI, lack of ranking regardless of keyword use, or general confusion in how to use the keywords they have identified, simply creating more content alone won’t cut it. The issue preventing most from reaching the goal of being the Google online leader in their field lies at the core of their content strategy.


The Shift In Search Engines 

Similar to the good old white text days, the changes in search engine queries are typically tied to the prevailing tactics that are being used. Currently keywords are the primary means of becoming a Google online leader, however, an initial issue here is that keyword ranking varies depending on context, meaning how and from where you search. Another prevailing issue for those seeking to optimize their ranking is the change in content structure. Google has recently been rolling out more “snippets”, which are top-ranking content in a Google search that provide a numbered or bullet point answer to your search. Those using snippets will see a ranking boost over those sites that are not using them. Finally, Google has also added some AI functionality behind the scenes to gain a better understanding of the intent behind the search. Combined, all of these items point in one direction, and those who want to become the Google online leader must be aware that the focus is now on the individual who is searching.

Changes In How We Search 

Both voice and mobile searches have been on the rise, up to 20% of all searches are now done by voice. This change requires Google’s algorithm to be more cognizant of context, instead of just focusing on keywords. The same applies to marketers as well. Becoming the Google online leader can no longer be achieved by simply attempting to own the keywords with massive amounts of content, it’s going to require an entirely new strategy.

Topic Based Dominance 

At this point you may be wondering what to do, if keywords aren’t going to bring the results they used to, then how can you remain at the top of the results page? A new approach that takes the change in how people search into consideration is to focus on a topic rather than specific keywords. However, picking just a core topic alone won’t cut it. In addition to your core topic, you will need to select related sub-topics as well. As an example of this, if your core topic was fashion, your sub-topics could be men’s fashion, women’s fashion, children’s fashion, seasonal fashion, etc… All are related to your core topic, but uniquely branch off into a more specific category.

Creating Topic-Based Content 

The content you create for your core topic should be general and broad, this should also be where you have built in your desired outcome, such as conversion or subscribing. However, in addition to creating content for your core topic, you will also want to create content for each area of your sub-topics. To get you started on creating your first topic cluster here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Determine 5-10 key issues that your target market has
  2. Gather those issues into broad topics
  3. From the core topic, create additional, specific sub-topics using identified keywords
  4. Develop a content plan for each core topic and their sub-topics
  5. Do research to confirm you’re making the right decisions
  6. Develop content, check results, and adjust accordingly

While these steps may not seem too difficult, it will still take clear decisive action to become the Google online leader.


Measuring Success 

Measuring success with any online marketing effort can be difficult, but if you’re shifting gears in how you produce content ensuring its effectiveness is important. Becoming the Google online leader for your core topic may be one goal, or you may be more concerned with branding or conversions. Thankfully, taking the approach of a topic group instead of simply keywords you can achieve and track progress toward multiple goals. The key change with a topic group strategy is that you should expect and work towards different results from each sub-topic. A few things to consider when evaluating the success of your topic group are:

  • What topics are better at driving traffic
  • What topics are growing your leads
  • What topics are driving conversions
  • What topics are growing your brand

When you observe and understand which topics are bringing you which results, you will be able to better plan your strategy around them.

Build For the Searcher 

Online marketing is always changing, and always will be. Keywords optimization still offers a benefit toward becoming the Google online leader, but that landscape is changing rapidly. As Google and other search engines continue to refine their algorithms to better match the way that people search, it will require a new strategy to stay in front. Approaching your content with a topic group mindset will help you create content that is sure to provide answers and put you in the position of Google online leader. As always, it will take planning, observation, and refinement, but in the end, your results will be worth it.

To Your Best Online!

Ingrid Maddox, Internet Marketing & Strategy Consultant. bluedress INTERNET MARKETING, an Internet Marketing Company headquartered in Knoxville, TN. Internet Marketing Developed, Implemented, and Managed to Full Circle! Organic Internet Search Engine Guru. Turn-Key Internet Optimization Programs Placing You Everywhere and Anywhere You Need to Be Online.
[email protected]

Leave a comment