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New SEO Techniques Should Change Your Keyword Strategy

Keyword Strategy

If, like me, you are tired of hearing how “SEO is dead” every time Google changes its search algorithms, I bet my house you’d listen to anyone who can explain how else you can drive quality traffic to your website with keywords.

Let’s be frank, we work in an industry where some players are quick to shout out catchcries, clichés and jargon, yet shirk responsibility for why they have failed to meet the expectations of their customers.

By focusing on short term results without a long term strategy, thousands of business owners have been left wondering why they invested so much time and money in keywords because it didn’t generate leads that routinely converted to sales.

Turn the clock back a few years and you would find most SEO companies throwing resources at:

  • Creating domains that exactly matched keyword searches
  • Feverishly joining iffy link networks
  • Stuffing keywords into spammy copy and html tags
  • Duplicating their content by guest blogging on poor quality

Sure, regularly hitting these targets improved Google rankings but they didn’t necessarily deliver what businesses craved – qualified leads.

Thankfully, times have changed. Not only did Google wake up to the techniques, reputable digital marketing firms were already playing a different game.

In 2013, we looked at where Google was heading with its much vaunted algorithms. Ever since, the focus has shifted to rewarding websites with a strong structure, quality content and niche authority built over time.

Far from being dead, SEO has matured – and the grown up version is good news for businesses that are prepared to look at long term strategy, rather than employing short term tactics.

As roi.com.au founder and CEO Ewan Watt says: “What happened to the company that ranked number one for home loans every time I searched on Google? That business went backwards for years. The real questions they should have asked were ‘how much of my market am I reaching’ and ‘how well does my website deliver good, relevant, content’.”

Ewan2
Founder and CEO Ewan Watt: “Is your keyword strategy old school or new school?”

With this in mind, we analysed five major markets and looked at four key factors that feed into how Google ranks websites today. The factors were URL, Page Title, Headings and Keyword Density.

We acknowledge that Google considers more than 200 factors when it ranks websites and individual pages, but we wanted to learn what impact relatively minor changes might have on page rankings.

Google search Home Loans

In the example above, the search term was ‘Home Loans’.  All websites that ranked in the top 5 had the words ‘home’ and ‘loan’ in the URL. Three had the words in the title tag and the page headline, and the keyword density for these pages peaked at less than 4%.

Overall, the URL, the Page Title tag and the headline were keyword-friendly in three of the five pages.

Keyword: Home Loans
Ranking Position
URL
Title Tag
H1
Keyword Density
1
https://www.aussie.com.au/home-loans.html
No (“home loan”)
No (“home loan”)
2.27%
2
http://www.ratecity.com.au/home-loans
Yes
Yes
3.97%
3
https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/home-loans.html
Yes
Yes (visually hidden)
0.97%
4
http://www.canstar.com.au/home-loans/
Yes
Yes
2.79%
5
http://www.homeloans.com.au/
No (“home loan”)
No (“home loan”)
1.47%

 

Our second example showed Google search results for the term ‘Car Insurance’.

Google search Car Insurance

In this instance, the top ranking website did not feature the word ‘Insurance’ in it’s URL, while the other four did. All five of these pages featured the keywords in the Page Title tag or the heading. The keyword density peaked a little over 5%.

Keyword: Car Insurance – Marina
Ranking Position
URL
Title Tag
H1
Keyword Density
1
http://www.allianz.com.au/car-insurance/
Yes
Yes
5.70%
2
http://www.iselect.com.au/car/
Yes
No (no H1 on page)
3.40%
3
http://www.comparethemarket.com.au/car-insurance/
Yes
No
4.90%
4
http://www.aami.com.au/car-insurance
Yes
Yes
4.40%
5
http://www.nrma.com.au/car-insurance
Yes
Yes
3.60%

 

Both SERPs are surprising because they demonstrate keyword relevance in the URLs, the Title Tags and the headlines are now much more significant than the frequency the keywords are used in the copy on the page.

Keywords & Strategy

In his article 6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO blogger Eric Enge said Google had done a “brilliant job” of punishing tactical SEO practices and rewarding a more strategic approach.

“The focus now is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site – properly architecting your site so that the search engines can understand it,” he says.

“Google operates from a frame of reference that they want to find and reward outstanding sites, pages, and authors that offer outstanding answers to user’s search queries.”

If Google has so radically changed the way it ranks websites and searchers have changed the way they search, businesses should think about how to respond to this with the way they bid for keywords, how they design their websites, and what content they are creating to provide a better experience and deliver what people expect when they click through to their pages.

Bidding for keywords the old way is not a sensible strategy in 2015.

Our data shows us that pages which are rich in quality images, contain good information about products and services, and inform their customers about what they want to know are outperforming the competition.
Register for a free website performance analysis and see if your SEO strategy matches up against competitors in 2015.

Related Articles

  1. Rank #1 on Google and Go Backwards
  2. How Hummingbird & (Not Provided) Keyword Data Affect SEO
  3. SEO & Keyword Targeting in 2015

Other Resources

  1. Contently – Need to Know: New SEO vs. Old SEO (Infographic)
  2. Quicksprout – What SEO Used to Be Versus What SEO Is Now
  3. Hubspot – The Evolution of SEO [Infographic]