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The New Generation of SEO

Zarian Lewis

Topics: SEO

If you’re still stuffing keywords into your website, chances are you aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for. This old-school SEO mentality is being left behind by many experts for a newer, more broad approach that centers around topics rather than individual keywords.

The Old: Keywords Aplenty

The old way of doing things centered heavily around researching and targeting keywords that you attempt to rank for. For example, if you’re a CPA you may want to target the keyword “Best CPA.” There are two problems with this approach:

  • You’re not the only CPA who’s going to be targeting this keyword.
  • As a result, it will be difficult to gain traction in this highly competitive search term.

Even a more targeted approach runs into problems. Let’s say you’re a CPA based in Denver and you want to rank for “Denver CPA.” Of course, it would be great to rank for this term. However, that search yields 447,000 results in Google.

Search engine results

In short, ranking for this search term will be difficult. What’s more, there are only ten results (not counting ads) listed on the front page. How important is the front page? Depending on the source, front page clicks are responsible for between 71% - 92% of all website traffic. That’s a significant number, no matter which one you go with.  The second page of a search isn’t a close 2nd either, accounting for between 6%-10% of all website traffic.

The New: Focus on The Topic of Intent

The new approach to SEO is not to abandon keywords altogether, but rather to approach your strategy from a more topic-based perspective. Search engines are placing increased emphasis on fulfilling the intent of the searcher, rather than matching the words they use.

The specific algorithms employed by search engines are closely guarded, trade secrets. However, it’s no secret that their goal is to fulfill their user’s intent. At its core, every search engine query is a question, and each result is an answer. Search engines like web pages that respond to these questions effectively.

As a Denver-based CPA, you already know you’re competing with 447,000 other results. Rather than focus on arbitrary keywords, instead turn to the broader topic your customer is looking for help with. No one is searching for the best CPA because they’re curious who they are. Rather, they’re searching a broad term for help with a specific question.

The topic-based approach might lead you to target a search phrase such as “how can I deduct my home office?” or “how do I fill out my 1099?” This method tackles the topic your customer is looking for help with.

There are pros and cons to this method. The downside is that these searches are fewer in volume than the broader ones. You’re casting a large net into a smaller area.

On the positive side, you are targeting more specific queries, proposed by potential customers with a specific intent. If you can meet the needs of their intention, your chances of converting those prospects into clients are greater.

The Best of Both Worlds

As in many industries, there is no one size fits all approach to SEO. Keywords still have their place, and while topic-based targeting isn’t the norm yet, it’s growing in popularity. A hybrid approach can snag the best of both worlds and capture a large section of conversion-ready traffic.

If there’s one thing that search engines like, it’s websites that answer their user’s questions. If you can do that, your site will perform well.