Are you still thinking that your SEO success can be measured in keyword rankings? If you are, you are a bit behind the power curve and your SEO thinking is passé.
Today, SEO is all about audience and relevancy, not just keywords and rankings. Yes!
I do not deny that until we can telepathically transmit our queries to an all-encompassing search engine, we will be using language. Language is created from words, but words have multiple meanings. Words are freighted with emotional baggage. The same word can connote or evoke a different response from different individuals.
In the early days of search, we were forced by the technology to focus on text and words. This was because the earliest search engines used word/text matching to find the documents that fit the query. They were essentially large-scale word matchers.
What has changed? Search technology has evolved and artificial intelligence is no longer a science fiction oxymoron. Today, search engines can use both the searcher’s own search history and performance data gleaned from each site to inform the search results delivered. This has forced SEO professionals to reconsider the venerable keyword and how they approach and measure success.
Every Site Has an Audience
If you do not have a clear picture of whom you want to reach with your site, then why bother having a site at all?
The greater the clarity around who your customer is and the more knowledge you have about the information your audience might find useful, the easier it is to develop a coherent SEO strategy.
In the past, when search technology was word-matching, we could define our audience in terms of the keywords.
Today, with the advances in search technology and the more sophisticated tools and metrics, we can more precisely target an audience and offer highly relevant content. Audience definition is first a business strategy and then a marketing exercise. If the business management does not have clear vision of who its customer is and why the customer would want to visit the site, then search success is constrained.
There are plenty of tools for the search marketers to use in the process of keyword research once the audience is defined, but without a clear definition of the audience, you are back to relying on inefficient word-matching.
Beyond Content Curation
Success comes when the content offering is highly relevant to the specific target. It is like fishing. Fly fishing enthusiasts will tell you that the successful fisherman knows how to match the hatch to present exactly the fly (or, it works with lures, too) that the desired species of fish expects to see at precisely that time of year.
Today, successful search marketers are matching the hatch so that their carefully crafted content matches exactly what their specific audience is looking for at that moment in time. This requires more than content creation and curation. It is an exercise in creating fresh content to meet the audience’s current wants to pull the audience through search to the site.
Any muddiness in defining the audience and creating optimized content that matches what the target audience is looking for yields a ticket to suboptimal results.
How Do You Know?
Research and metrics are the keys to success. Tracking success is more of a business exercise than a slavish following of rankings performance. The content and the keywords become potent revenue-drivers only when there is a congruence between the business goals, the audience and search as a revenue-pulling source. This does not begin to suggest that you should neglect the elements of technical search. They are table stakes in a bigger marketing game.