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Topics v Keywords in Search Engine Optimisation

SEO, or search engine optimisation, has become something of an art form over the last several years. In the past, keywords reigned supreme, with SEO copywriters creating a separate page or blog for each and every relevant keyword or key phrase that they wanted to maximise.

More recently, this approach has evolved.

A significant change to the Google search algorithm a few years back changed the game, making it more effective to target broad topics than individual keywords. Today, good SEO professionals know that good, rank-able writing needs a healthy balance of topics and keywords.

Ripple Effect’s SEO Strategy

At Ripple Effect, I look at the broader topic within which several keywords can be used. In the past, an entire web page would be focused on one keyword. Now, a single page will be focused on a topic, and the text will incorporate many relevant keywords in the copy as well as in the titles, headers and sub-headers.

This topic-and-keyword combined approach reduces repetitive content on your site, is engaging to a wider pool of visitors and, crucially, makes for a stronger search engine ranking.

Local Plumber Example: Mister Plumber

Let’s put this to practice using the example of a local plumber. Some of Mister Plumber’s customers will want to know if he does roofing as well as plumbing, but simply including the keyword ‘roofing’ does little to engage readers.

It’s far more effective, engaging and practical for Mister Plumber to incorporate the topic of roofing as a page on his website. If we were to draft up a ‘Roofing’ page for Mister P, what information would be useful to include under this topic?

• Do you build new roofs as well as provide maintenance?

• How long will it take to build or repair a roof?

• Is there a preferred season to undertake roofing work?

• What consents and paperwork are required for a new roof?

• What materials and roofing techniques are used?

• Do you take on commercial roofing jobs?

By turning a simple keyword into a broad topic, there is a lot of relevant material to flush out and multiple keywords to include on a single web page. This effective approach increases your website’s quality for both search engines and visitors.

Adding Value

There are other tricks of the trade to increase the quality of your SEO. For instance, strategically adding hyperlinks to relevant businesses or resources as well as linking internally to other pages within your website all adds value, as does including images, graphs and documents.

Another tip for good search ranking is to make use of semantic markup to highlight a web page’s meaning or topic. For instance, including effective heading tags, structured data, image alt attributes and ordered and unordered lists allows search engines to interpret and understand your content easily, which helps categorise and rank your page.

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