Search engine optimization is not what it used to be.
You can’t just do your keyword research and plug those words into your content anymore. You can’t get a bunch of backlinks by guest posting or signing up for link farms.
Things are a lot more complicated. That’s good for users, but not always good for brands.
If you aren’t paying attention, and if you aren’t staying flexible, you are going to be left behind very quickly.
Here’s what will be important for SEO moving forward, from semantic search and beyond:
Focus on Customer Personas
You spend a lot of time researching your audience to know how to direct your marketing activities.
But creating a single audience profile is not enough. Your audience is comprised of thousands or even millions of people, and they are not a monolith. To be successful with your marketing, you will need to create numerous customer personas to reach more of your audience.
You can then tweak your SEO strategy to make sure you are reaching all the people within those personas.
For example, you can create content marketing that provides solutions for each of those personas. You can diversify the marketing of this content in different ways, such as by promoting it to the people who fall into those specific personas on social media, through email marketing, or even in PPC ads.
You have to create marketing materials that seem cohesive when they are viewed together but that also appeal to those individuals separately. That’s a tall order, but it’s one you have to meet in order to succeed.
Identify Audience Intent
Identifying audience intent is a lot more than knowing what they are searching for.
For example, if someone is searching for “1998 Jaguar,” do you know if that person is looking to buy, looking for parts to repair that model, or just trying to collect information for a school or work report?
You need to look beyond the search terms to know that answer. Fortunately, there are tools available that make that job easier for you.
For advertising, In-feed helps you identify audience intent through an advanced algorithm that analyzes vast amounts of data and turns it into actionable insights. The program then automatically places native ads in the right place at the right time for each visitor. That results in more effective advertising that gets more sales and conversions.
For your content marketing, you’ll have to look at the other information available to you and read between the lines with your keywords. For example, if someone is searching for “best barber near me,” you know that a person is likely a man who is concerned about appearance and quality service. If this keyword term is relevant to your niche, you know that you can create a list of the best barbers in the area, as well as content about male grooming, style, fashion, and associated issues.
Think beyond keywords. Think like your audience and create the content that they will want.
Semantic search is similar to identifying user intent, but it takes a different approach.
When you enter a search term, you may not always find just what you need. What do you do next? Enter a new term and sort through those results. You may repeat this several times before you find what you want (if you do at all).
Many other people do exactly the same thing, and Google is using that to learn more about what they want. It is focusing on the relationship between those terms to better understand what users are trying to find so that it can deliver smarter results. Therefore, it doesn’t just look at the current search term when providing results; it looks at all the search terms entered in that session to better understand the user.
As a marketer, you should be focusing on more than one set of keywords or keyword phrase. You should be identifying secondary keyword phrases that you also include in your content to create multiple signals for Google.
Of course, this means that you also must create multi-layered content that can reflect more than one keyword set. That doesn’t mean writing like you have multiple personalities and exploring multiple topics. You can simply write more extensively about the same topic within one post, ensuring that you explore multiple angles.
Writing and optimizing for semantic search will help you get more traffic because you’ll be meeting Google where it is at.
SEO is always going to be changing. You can’t rest on your laurels and stay content with what has worked for you in the past because it may soon stop working for you.
Start adjusting your SEO strategy to make sure you are including these new areas of focus. You’ll start reaching more of your audience, and you’ll keep your brand relevant.