Ranking in Google is all about relevance of content to search intent and helpfulness of content to the user. If your website or your content are lacking either one of these, it's simply not optimized.
That means fewer traffic, fewer leads, and fewer customers from organic channels.
In this post, we’ll walk you through how you can adapt your SEO strategy to match the most current best practices so you can improve and maintain your rankings.
Top 3 Ways to Rank Higher on Google
- Topic Clusters
- Featured Snippets
- Pillar Pages
1. Topic Clusters
If you’ve never heard of a topic cluster, you’re not alone, but if you’re trying to rank higher on Google - you should definitely make it a priority to learn about them.
Topic clusters are segments of an overarching topic that share a connected theme. The key to success with topic clusters is thinking of a very general topic or question your target audience would likely be searching for, and break it down into easily consumable clusters.
These segments should be connected to each other - think keyword variations, different aspects of a broader topic, and different questions someone might ask about the topic.
Within each cluster, you should either develop or include existing content that provides key information or answers to major questions about the topic.
For example, here's a topic cluster that a human resources outsourcing company might focus on:
- Topic Cluster:
- Employee Retention
- Subtopics in the Cluster:
- How to Improve Employee Retention
- Employee Retention Webinars
- Employee Engagement
- Company Culture
- Employee Satisfaction
- Employee Attrition
Each of the subtopics are connected to the main topic, and they're all things someone might search for if they are trying to learn more about employee retention.
2. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are results that appear above the traditional blue-link search results. They provide quick tidbits of info, and are used to answer voice search queries.
There are ways you can present content to increase the chances it will show as a featured snippet. Here are some tips:
- Format your main question as an H2
- Directly under this heading, answer the question concisely, either in a short blurb or numbered/bulleted list
So, a featured snippet for content on employee retention might be a heading that says "Ways to Improve Employee Retention" followed by a bulleted list of quick tips. You can provide more detail on each list item after the list itself.
3. Pillar Pages
Pillar pages are comprehensive, multi-stage, multi-level website pages that touch on every aspect of a topic. They will provide both general and expert information; both quick research questions and purchase-intent queries.
Here's an example of what the section headings of an HR company's employee retention pillar page might look like:
- What is Employee Retention?
- What Affects Employee Retention?
- Different Ways to Improve Employee Retention
- Different Services that Can Assist with Employee Retention
- Why Outsource to Solve Employee Retention Issues?
- Is Outsourcing HR for Employee Retention Right for Your Business?
- What to Expect When Outsourcing Employee Retention
- Additional Services that Can Improve Company Culture & Employee Engagement
Three goals to keep in mind when creating a pillar page are: understanding what your target audience is searching for, anticipating what questions they'll have AFTER their initial query is answered, and finally, providing all of that information in one resource.
4 Tips to Make These SEO Tactics Work For You:
- Regularly produce high quality content
- Format your content in a way that explicitly answers anticipated questions
- Optimizing keywords is still important - it’s just different now
- Have a solid understanding of buyer intent throughout the buyer's journey
1. Consistent & High-Quality Content Production
Ranking in Google requires a large volume of relevant content that matches search intent and delivers the information the user was searching for.
If this doesn’t sound like your content library, you will likely need to write more content that is valuable to your audience, and also go back and update your current content to match these best practices.
2. Clear Content Formatting
In both voice and text searches, search queries are starting to lean drastically toward full questions rather than broad keywords because they're looking for specific answers.
To meet this need, you need to know what questions your buyers are asking and what answers they're looking for. From there, you need to explicitly write out both the question as well as the answer to that question within your content.
Doing this helps Google match your content to the specific search queries your audience is posing.
3. Keywords are Still Massively Important
The keyword as we know it has evolved. Previously, the bulk of well-performing keywords included very few words and very broad terms.
Today, successful keywords are much more like entire sentences. Much of this change can be attributed to the rise of voice search technology, with which users can shout any question at their Alexa and get an answer in seconds.
Think about it like this: instead of targeting a single keyword, you need to target
- head terms
- latent semantic index terms (LSIs)
Head terms are the broader keywords that are directly relevant to your business, but may be harder to rank for because of their broadness.
LSIs are the extended, long-tail keywords that typically resemble full sentences. These LSI terms should include and relate to the head term, but they're more specific and easier to rank for.
4. Identify Buyer Intent and Let it Guide Your Efforts
Understanding the intent of any random search query is one thing. It's a whole other thing to pin down the intent of a search performed by your prospects. This includes what terms they use, what information they need or what questions they need answered, and what will keep them on your website once they land there.
Make sure to account for the fact that your audience may use different terminology than you would. Especially if they don't understand industry jargon, and/or refer to your products and services in a totally different way than you do, failing to shape your content around their needs will ruin your chances at ranking higher on Google.
To truly match buyer intent, you must understand and adapt to how they search.
Provide Value to Your Audience
High-quality content is the foundation of SEO - this year, next year, and beyond.
Remember: ranking on Google is all about increasing your website’s visibility so you can provide the best content to your target audience. However, no matter where you rank, your website and your content will never truly be optimized until they are providing that level of value.
Looking for more? Check out this thorough webinar to discover how 3 manufacturer's generate high-quality leads through online marketing in complex industries: