According to recent reports, it is estimated that over 70% of businesses will require some form of digital transformation by 2023. As such, the need for businesses to leverage search engine optimization (SEO) frameworks and understand the trends associated with digital transformation is paramount for success. Businesses that don’t take the time to understand these trends and implement an effective SEO framework may be disadvantaged.
An effective SEO framework can help businesses capitalize on current trends, allowing them to remain competitive and gain an edge over rival companies. Additionally, it can help businesses achieve their goals faster and more easily. Establishing a strong SEO framework is the first step in successful digital transformation, and it should be done in conjunction with understanding the trends associated with digital transformation. This will ensure that businesses can build a strong digital presence, maximizing their potential for success.
However, Here’s the Catch…
SEO has evolved a lot over the last two decades.
Gone are the days when you could simply add some keywords, build some backlinks and instantly, your page comes up at the top of Google.
Even backlinks are becoming less and less relevant these days. Check out the Google hangout below:
Skip to TimeStamp: 06:08
Evolving Landscape of SEO
Google has moved on from traditionally believed ranking factors like keywords and backlinks and puts more emphasis on Semantic SEO, relevance, and user experience.
One of the reasons why content is the number one ranking factor today is that Google wants to make sure the content is relevant and useful to the user.
Today, Google is changing rapidly, with 100s of robust ranking factors delivering the most relevant content to the users.
As per the latest article in the Search Engine Journal, Google released more than 450+ updates to its search, roughly putting it to 12 times a day.
Do Businesses Need to Worry?
I won’t coin the term as being doesn’t “worried”; rather businesses need to be cautious. Most business owners don’t really have the time to keep up with the latest SEO trends and outsource the work to different so-called “SEO Experts”.
Unfortunately, with a rapidly changing search engine ecospace there are very few credible “SEO experts” and “Agencies” out there that can truly benefit your business and work as a partner.
How is SEO Spearheading the Digital Transformation of an Online Business?
Normally when a business needs to expand its marketing online, they typically have 4 major sources of customers:
- Search Engines (SEO / Ads)
- Social Media
- Referral From Other Websites (PR, Affiliates)
- Brand Searches
Also, any target audience can be categorized into three sections that essentially determine their readiness to buy a particular service.
1. Cold – Unaware of their problem
2. Warm – Aware of their problem and actively searching for services, products, and solutions.
3. Hot – Have done the research and are in the market to get the best deal.
Here’s how different platforms are used to target the above categories of audience.
As seen from the above pic, Google and search engines, in general, are used to target all segments of a buyer category. However, they are especially used to target hot audiences and the market segment of people.
This is the only reason why traffic from search engines is so valuable to a business.
SEO Vs Ads – Which Option is best to Target Search Engines?
I will briefly cover this topic since the details are beyond the scope of this blog.
In essence, Advertising and SEO are needed to satisfy two different needs of a business. While a carefully executed Ad campaign can boost sales that a new business may need, a carefully crafted SEO campaign can bring in dollars to your business for years to come without effort from you.
The main fundamental fact that sets SEO apart from paid advertising is that ROI from paid ads always decreases with time.
SEO is a marketing technique that captures and gains more organic visibility with time. So inherently, a successful SEO campaign will always give a positive and increasing ROI with time.
You can learn more about SEO VS PPC on our blog
Latest SEO Trends and Tactics Breakdown
In this article, we will explore the fundamental and advanced SEO concepts and redefine them using the latest trends and tactics.
In doing so, we will develop an SEO Framework that when implemented, can get higher rankings for any SEO campaigns and improve organic visibility in 2023.
Map User Search Intent with your Keyword Research
Search Intent is essentially the intention behind a search query. There are generally four types of search intent.
Each search intent has its own distinct type of content that ranks well for that keyword.
Here’s a small example: for the keyword “golf ball” we get the following SERP.
Most of the ranking pages are e-commerce category pages. Hence we understand this keyword has a transactional intent.
Now let’s check the SERP result for the keyword “best golf clubs under $500”.
In this case, there is a dramatic change in the type of page ranking. Notice these are all Blog and Review pages.
Hence the intent of the keyword: “best golf clubs under $500” is commercial.
WHAT ARE DIFFERENT CLASSIFICATIONS OF CONTENT USED TO SATISFY THE SEARCH
This refers to the overall “type” of content in the search results and is usually one of the following:
- Blog post
- Product page
- Category page
- Landing page
This refers to the “format” of the top-ranking pages. Some common formats include:
- “How-to” guides
- Step-by-step tutorials
- List posts
- Opinion pieces
Here’s how we can map each content category to its specific type of search intent.
Understanding search intent is crucial to creating relevant content for each keyword and hence nails one of the most important ranking factors of modern SEO, i.e, relevancy.
Include Zero Search Volume and Long Tail Keywords in your Content Plan
Sure your goal for any campaign would be to eventually rank for the most searched keywords about your service or product, also known as the “money words”. But guess what? So is everyone else.
Here are some interesting statistics.
As you can see, almost 95% of all search queries in Google occur on long tail variations with little search volume.
And guess what? There is no competition for these keywords.
Long-tail keywords are longer in length and generally have fewer searches than short-tail keywords. However, these long-tail keywords tend to have a much higher conversion rate than short-tail ones as they are more specific and user intent is easier to determine.
Additionally, since there is lesser competition for long-tail keywords, it is easier to rank for them and gain a foothold in the market. Thus, it becomes essential to include zero-search volume and long-tail keywords in the content plan of any SEO campaign.
If you are still confused, we have written a detailed blog incorporating https://thatware.co/fast-traffic-growth-using-alsoasked/.
Remember Each Page can have only one Focus Keyword
To maximize the SEO value of each page, optimize the content, title tags, headings, and meta description of a page to include the target keyword. It should be noted, however, that each page can have only one focus keyword due to keyword cannibalization.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on a website target the same keyword and compete against each other in search engine rankings. To ensure this does not happen, create unique content for each page and use different keyword variations on each web page.
Also, an important SEO skill is to understand which long tail keywords include as part of the content of a page and which one qualifies to be given its own content.
Whenever following a content strategy, it is best to try to follow a pillar cluster model, which we will cover in the next part.
Follow a Pillar Cluster Model
One of the most effective SEO content marketing frameworks is the pillar cluster model. Essentially this involves segregating your keywords into topics and clusters.
A topic is the main keyword you intend to rank for, also known as the money keyword. Cluster contents or keywords involve relevant keywords, subtopics or long-tail variations closely related to the topic.
A basic pillar cluster structure consists of a pillar page and a series of cluster content. As the name suggests, a pillar page is the main page that includes an in-depth article on the topic. It should include the target keyword and be the base link for all related cluster content.
The cluster content would revolve around the sub-topics related to the topic and are used to link back to the pillar page, thus strengthening the SEO value.
This most effective content structure helps create contextually relevant and semantic website structures.
A picture from Hubspot accurately describes a basic pillar cluster structure.
Always Monitor your Web Core Vitals
Web Core Vitals are a set of metrics that measure the user experience on a website. They include aspects like page loading speed, visual stability, and interactivity.
Contrary to most people’s knowledge Google has expanded the Core Web Vital Metrics from 3 to 6. They are as under:
Largest Contentful Paint(LCP): This metric reflects the time a page takes to load from the user’s point of view. Therefore, it is important to ensure that LCP falls within 2.5 seconds for the best user experience.
First Input Delay(FID): This indicates how quickly a page responds to the first interaction by the user. Having FID lower than 100 ms is recommended for an optimal experience. It measures the loading performance of a page by recording the time taken by the page’s largest image or text block to load.
Cumulative Layout Shift(CLS): It measures the visual stability of a page by calculating the amount of layout shift of visible page elements.
Total Blocking Time(TBT): It measures the total time taken by the browser to process a task before it can respond to user input.
First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric reflects the time the page starts loading from a user’s point of view. It is suggested to keep FCP to a maximum of 2 seconds for the best user experience.
Interaction to Next Paint(INP): This metric determines the time a page takes to initiate the loading of a new element on the page. Optimally the INP should be lower than 50 ms.
Time to First Byte(TTFB): This measures the time the server takes to respond to a user request. Keeping TTFB under 200 ms helps provide a good user experience.
Going over your head? Don’t worry. Most of these improvements can be done by a developer. Also, if you have a wordpress website, a set of plugins can easily maintain a fast website.
Here’s a set of best practices to keep your web core vitals in check:
- Implement a Caching Solution.
- Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources.
- Use a Content Delivery Network.
- Properly Size and Optimize Images.
- Implement Lazy Loading.
- Optimize Your Website Fonts.
Build Relevant Backlinks
As stated at the start of the blog, backlinks as a ranking factor have a lot less significance now than before. However, link building is still important for SEO. It helps to create a trustable source of information, which is why Google still considers it a factor for ranking. The best way to create relevant links for SEO is by leveraging the content being created.
Also, it is still the most reliable way that Google discovers new web pages and makes sense of them.
Why does Backlink need to be relevant?
Take it like using a Hashtag. Using hashtags allows Instagram to categorize your content into a specific niche, thus allowing them to show it to the right people.
That is exactly what Google does; in a way, backlinks from websites relevant to your niche help Google understand that your website also belongs to that niche.
Not mentioning relevant backlinks carry much more link authority than irrelevant and spam backlinks, which Google considers spam and is immediately deferred by Google’s SpamBrain.
Learn more about How Google fights Spam.
Enhance your SEO Strategy with Semantic Engineering
This is the latest in the SEO industry. Since Google released its BERT update, it has shifted from keywords and backlinks and focusing more on the semantic relevance of content to keywords.
To determine that Google has developed several new metrics and algorithms that can accurately determine the relevance of content to a search query.
Here’s a pic from Moz that depicts some metrics influencing a keyword’s ranking difficulty.
Semantic SEO is a vast subject and may require expert help to optimize a site for Semantic SEO truly.
We have written a dedicated article covering various topics of Semantic SEO tactics that work in 2023. We will cover a few of them here:
Sometimes people are looking for specific answers to a very specific search query. For example: for those of you wondering, “What is passage indexing”.
This new kind of search feature allows Google to answer oneliner queries such as above.
Google Martin Splitt was excited when he announced the breakthrough of Google where they can now index web pages and individual passages in content.
This allows Google to answer specific search queries by showing the most relevant passage above all serp results. Thus satisfying the searcher’s intent to gain a quick answer.
HOW TO OPTIMISE FOR PASSAGE RANKING
We at Thatware have tried with several contents and tried to optimise our pages for passage ranking.
After several experiments, our passages rank for several search terms as above.
Here are our observations regarding how to optimise passage indexing.
1. PASSAGE LENGTH
Let us assume that a particular page has 3000 words worth of content. We organize passages intended for passage ranking not more than 1% or 2% of the total word count. This means each passage should have 30-60 words at most. In other words, passage segregation should be around 1-2% of the intended word count. Such a passage is ideal for serving as an answer to specific queries.
2. PASSAGE <H2> TAG
If a passage consists of a <H2> tag, it should have an LSI keyword. In other words, if a passage is followed by any h-tag then it’s recommended to use an LSI keyword within the H-tag, whether it be <h1> or H2> or etc.
3. USE DATA HIGHLIGHTER
If you are optimising a certain passage from the content, then you have to use data highlighter with the help of Google Search Console’s Data Highlighter tool. The option varies in the list from site to site; suppose you are optimising a passage for an article-based website, and then you have to choose an article from the given list in GSC.
You can check out more about Passage Indexing below:
5. USE IMAGE
You should use at least one image for the page you are optimizing for passage indexing. And it should be placed below a passage. For reference, please see the attached layout by the end of this article!
6. USE VALID SCHEMA MARK-UP
You should use the specific passage in the schema code to optimise the page. It’s advised to use JSON-LD for the markup!
7. NO ANCHOR TEXT IN BETWEEN
The passage should not contain anchors, but internal and external hyperlinks should be above or below. Well, there is no such rule. Still, it’s our practical experience that having no anchors within the passage helps with the optimization. Moreover, having an internal link / external link above or beyond also helps with the process.
Wrapping up this section, you can learn more about Passage Indexing and its benefits here.
TF – IDF MEASUREMENT
WHAT IS TF-IDF?
Let’s learn about TF or Term Frequency. As the name suggests, it measures the number of times a particular keyword occurs in a document.
TF = (No. of times a keyword appears in a document) / (Total Number of Words)
DF Score or document frequency = (Number of docs) / (Total Number of documents where the keyword appears in a Database)
IDF = log(DF)
When TF is multiplied by the IDF, then the resulting score is lower for commonly used words and higher for niche-specific or intent-specific topics.
When we use keywords with a high TF-IDF score, those words indicate the context of the page more than regular words to Google.
BENEFITS OF TF-IDF OPTIMIZATION
First, to clear it out, TF-IDF is not a ranking signal. But what Google cares about is Semantic search.
For example, let us be a search engine that does not know the meaning of Trout. Let us analyse the following sentences.
- Trout is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Trout has tender flesh and a mild, somewhat nutty flavour.
- When choosing trout, we pay attention to a clear red-orange colour.
Also, let us assume we understand what a Salmon is. That when we encounter the following lines,
- Salmon is a popular type of fish in Western cuisine, which goes well with white wine.
- Tender salmon meat can be added to pasta.
- Salmon skin is super nutrient-dense, so keep it why you cook.
The mere occurrence of Trout with words like “Omega 3, flesh, salmon, pasta” gives us an idea that Trout might be some edible fish.
These are called Co-occurrence words. Google uses co-occurrences to determine semantic relationships between various words for a long time. This is exactly where TF-IDF comes to play.
Using a TF-IDF tool, we can find various Co-Occurrence suggestions based on their high TF-IDF score. This way, we can optimise our content with such co-occurrences, making sure Google interprets the context of the document correctly and, more specifically, increase the weightage of some keywords as we desire.
HOW TO USE A TF-IDF TOOL
- First, we enter the document URL we want to optimise.
- Then we enter 2-3 competitor URLs which are relevant and ranking for our target keywords.
- The tool will analyse the TF-IDF value of various words and identify those with high Tf-IDF Scores.
- It will show a chart of words weighed according to their TF-IDF value for each URL and competitors.
- At last, it will suggest possible keywords not currently in our document that we can implement to ensure our document is optimised for all relevant co-occurrences.
TOPIC MODELLING WITH LDA ALGORITHM
Topic Modelling is the process of identifying distinct Topics or Words with topical significance in a text group. It is essentially useful in the context of topic clustering. Despite several techniques that help us do this, most data scientists prefer the LDA method.
“LDA assumes documents are produced from a mixture of topics. Those topics then generate words based on their probability distribution. Given a dataset of documents, LDA backtracks and tries to figure out what topics would create those documents in the first place.”
Let’s visualise how the algorithm can identify this in real-time. We ran an analysis on a set of SERP data for the keyword “yoga for beginners”.
We visualized the output using the PyLDAvis package.
The left-hand side shows all the major identified topics covered in the document. If you are interested, you can check how the visualization works here. The further away these topics are, the more distinct it is. The right-hand side contains words that create these topics.
This is very interesting as, at a glance, we can understand what search topics Google is most interested in. It can also be used to make content recommendations all over the website and create long-term content and topic model around which we can centre our content marketing strategies.
If this tool can give us so many content suggestions, imagine how efficiently Google identifies topics and content hubs. Using the LDA algorithm to find content and topic suggestions can greatly enable us to find and optimise our pages based on on-demand searchable content.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR TOPIC MODELLING IS WRONG?
Another Note to check is whatever we do, make sure our Web pages don’t look like this:
This excessive overlapping shows that the topics are not distinct enough; hence our original search term might not have enough semantically related but distinct subtopics.
If all these are over your head, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Our expert R&D Team can perform the best Semantic SEO strategies and make sure your website ranks in 2023.
Book a consultation today.
It has become quite clear that Semantic SEO is a must-have for any company looking to rank high in search engine results pages in 2023. With digital transformation trends rapidly changing, it is more important than ever to adopt the latest SEO practices when creating content and optimizing websites. With the tools and strategies mentioned in this article, companies can easily create content that ranks well and meets the needs of their target audience. A well-thought-out SEO strategy can make all the difference when competing in a highly competitive market.