Ideas and concepts drive search results in today’s SEO environment. In this new search world it’s about discoverability, not links or keywords. Semantic search, like our own minds, looks for “key concepts” and not keywords.
Think of it this way. A reader will skim your page to see if they are interested. What stands out as they skim are not keywords. They never did. Keywords were for search engines. The reader looks for clusters of words that pertain to the information they want. They skim to see if their question is answered.
Search engine algorithms are evolving. Now they search content for phrases, or word clusters, in much the same way a reader skims your content before deciding to read. These phrases represent the concepts inside your content.
Know Your Topic, Know Your Phrases
The advanced search engines make writing content easier, because what you need to do is write about your topic in a clear, organized structure without worrying about keywords.
If you organize your content, related topics will appear naturally. In the world of search, these related topics are called co-occurring phrases. The way search engines match a searcher’s natural language query to your topics is called conversational search. By matching not only the phrase in the query but identifying related topics, entities, and phrases within your content, the search engine now has the power to retrieve your content as an answer even if the words you use don’t exactly match the words in the query.
How to Prepare Your Context-Based Content
Just because keywords per se have diminished in importance, you can still prepare your content to get better search results. The first step is thinking about your topics—one at a time—before you write.
- Identify your main topic
- Establish your subtopics
- Organize the flow of the content
The topic and the related subtopics are key to engaging a reader once search delivers your content as an answer to their query. Here's the background work you need to put in:
- Understand the way search works to get everyone involved (business owners, marketing directors) with writing for phrased-based content. Emphasize how this helps target featured snippets in search results.
- Identify the featured snippet you want to target with the content. This will help you identify and refine your main topic.
- Expand your topic with additional related keyword research and questions around the topic to increase related phrases, topics, and word clusters within the content.
- Format and structure your content with headers, subheads, bullet lists, and charts to clearly identify your related topics within the content. This helps search engines skim your content and readers find exactly what they need.
- Implement meta tags, the content descriptors that help search engines identify your topics quickly.
These steps increase discoverability of your content to match the entities in the reader’s original query.
The Informed Writer’s Challenge
When you write your own content, making a shift to concept-based content is your choice. But, if you write content for businesses, you need to educate your clients about the way search works now. Education can be doubly challenging if the business has an SEO “expert” who is not keeping up to date with changes in search engine optimization. You are likely to encounter resistance.
Depending on your relationship with a client, you can introduce the concept as follows:
- Clarify how search understands topics and their relationship within a piece of content.
- Explain the importance of rich snippet targeting.
- Point out how topics (phrases/word clusters) take precedence over keywords as search engines scan content.
- Answer questions and agree on a context-based focus.
Streamlined Writing for Better Search Results
Context-based content offers benefits to writers in freedom of exposition and in search results. Benefits include:
- Freedom to dive deep into a topic, incorporating several subtopics naturally into the text.
- Providing direct answers to questions consumers ask will increase dwell time and reduce bounce rate.
- Search results that target the topic will deliver your content to the people who want it most.
Free your writing from building around keywords to compose around a main concept. You’ll discover as you organize your content that related topics come up naturally. Because your content is built around concept word clusters, search engines may target one of your subtopics as the exact answer to a query.
Readability is a component of search engine optimization. Use ProWritingAid to increase readability sentence by sentence, check grammar, and smooth overall style to polish your content.