On a rather chilly afternoon in October, we were back online to enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling you get when SEOs share knowledge on the hot topic of keywords. In their presentations, our three expert speakers, Jamie Grant, James Brockbank and Alina Ghost, shared their best practices for using keyword research to form intent optimisation strategies.
Jamie Grant – Blue Array
Jamie is an SEO Executive at Blue Array, and our in-house expert on everything keyword-related – so much so, we call him the Keyword King! He loves working with clients to form new content strategies almost as much as he loves football.
In his talk, Jamie shared his learnings and top tips he’s picked up on how best to conduct keyword research over the last few years at Blue Array.
Key takeaways from Jamie’s talk included:
- Don’t open SEMRUsh just yet – Though it’s tempting to dive straight into keyword research, it’s important to plan ahead first. Start by manually analysing existing content, speaking to the business to understand the type of keywords that matter to them and then planning the ideal structure for content hubs and keyword categories.
- Be thorough with your keyword research – Build a comprehensive keyword list by analysing your own and competitors’ sites before filling in any gaps using keyword research tools like SEMRush. Categorise the keywords in your list based on where they would fit within your site structure to avoid overwhelm.
- Do on-page optimisation the right way – Keep URLs useful for users, but don’t stress about changing them to include keywords as this will only have a tiny impact on rankings. Instead, focus on including keywords and synonyms of those keywords naturally in meta data as well as throughout body copy. Don’t forget image optimisation too!
- Bonus tip – Don’t put your feet up! Once you have created/optimised your content, create a process to constantly analyse and update it to improve its performance. Use Search Console to identify low hanging fruit and uncover keywords that weren’t discoverable via third party tools. Also keep an eye on industry trends and competitor sites to inform the improvements you make.
James Brockbank – Digitaloft
James is the founder and Managing Director of SEO & Digital PR agency Digitaloft, working across industries to drive organic growth and success. A self-confessed SEO geek, James is a regular writer for Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch and has spoken at a number of industry events including BrightonSEO.
In his talk, James shared his insights into the often misunderstood topic of keyword cannibalisation including what it’s caused by, how to identify it, and how to fix it.
The key takeaways from James’ talk included:
- Keyword cannibalisation is all about intent – Though regularly stated, multiple pages targeting the same search term isn’t actually keyword cannibalisation. Multiple pages targeting the same keyword and user intent is. For example, an informational page and a transactional page are serving different intents for different stages of the purchase journey, so would not cause an issue if they are targeting the same keyword.
- Look for the common signs to find cannibalisation issues – You are likely to be suffering from cannibalisation issues if you spot any of the following happening on your site:
- The ranking URL keeps changing in the SERPs
- Your main page keeps fluctuating in rank
- You are struggling to increase rankings for key search terms
- The wrong page is ranking (cannibalising conversions, not just rankings)
You can also use tools such as the organic keywords tool on Ahrefs, the cannibalisation tool on SEMRush, Google Search Console or the fantastic Cannibalisation Explorer by Hannah Butler to confirm your suspicions.
- Fix cannibalisation issues – There is no one size fits all solution for fixing these issues; you need to look at them in isolation. Consider:
- 301 redirecting cannibalised pages
- Implementing canonical tags
- Re-optimising pages
- Merging or consolidating pages
- Creating new pages
Alina Ghost – Amara
Alina heads up an in-house team of SEOs at luxury interiors brand Amara. She has over a decade of experience in ecommerce and has spoken at numerous industry events including Brighton SEO, Search London and the International Search Conference. Alina’s podcast ‘SEO with Mrs Ghost’ is a fantastic resource, covering the latest SEO news and best practices, so do give it a listen!
Alina’s talk focused on a few hidden gems of keyword and content strategies, from mobile and competitiveness, to image optimisation.
The key points of Alina’s talk included:
- Tailor content for mobile – As we are consuming more and more content through our mobile devices, we need to consider mobile appropriateness and how to create content for that specific device type. Eye-tracking studies show we skim read, focus on headings and pay most attention to content above the fold. Strategically position your main search terms in these key areas – headings, subheadings and at the start of the page.
- Don’t forget image optimisation – Make your imagery work harder to bring in more traffic through image search. Use keywords within the file name as well as in alt text for accessibility and context. You can also use synonyms in these areas strategically – for example, if your luxury brand won’t use the word ‘kids’ in on-page content as it doesn’t fit the tone of voice, use it in the file name and alt text of imagery to capitalise on its search volume.
- Consider content competitiveness – Use a balance of long tail and short tail keywords when creating a successful content strategy. Conversion rates tend to be higher for long tail keywords, but shorter tail keywords may bring in the majority of your traffic. In order to demonstrate Expertise-Authority-Trust (E-A-T) to search engines and readers, make sure you write around your topic to create a hub of content that targets a wider variety of keywords.
And that’s a wrap on our action-packed October event! Thank you to everyone who kept the questions and comments going in the chat, and a huge thanks to our three expert speakers for their actionable advice.
Our next meetup on 11th November will be focused on developments in search in 2020. Make sure you’re following the event on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RemoteSEOMeetup for details on how to secure your spot coming soon.
See you next time!