I like keywords just as much as the next SEO’er does, but it’s time we stopped focusing on keywords so much. A keypage strategy is a way to help us focus on our end goal of attracting the right traffic to our site without relying on powerhouse keywords.
We Need To Measure a Different Metric
We’re not throwing away our keyword research techniques as all of this is still very necessary for a successful keypage strategy. What we will be doing is shifting the way we measure our success. Instead of measuring our keyword position, we are going to measure the traffic we are receiving.
We are focusing on the actual effect of ranking high for popular keywords, which is that we will be receiving lots of traffic from the search engine. This is achieved from having well structured pages that all support each other with good content and a clear intent for each page.
The Old Way of Measuring Keyword Performance
In the past we may have measured the ranking of a specific keyword in the search engine results pages (SERP’s). This was based on the idea that ranking high for a popular keyword would bring us website visitors.
So if the keyword was “Digital marketing” and our website came up first for that keyword when someone typed it into the search engine, then we could expect to get a lot of traffic from that keyword due to our ranking and the fact that it has a lot of people searching for it every month.
We would be able to track our keyword performance over time, to watch it climb in the rankings.
This makes total sense and still holds true to this day and probably will for a very long time to come, but some things have changed that shows the need for an update to this strategy. One of the biggest changes made by SERP’s is that they are protecting their users privacy, by stopping webmasters from knowing which keywords a user used to bring them to your website.
Search Console Can Still Help US Identify Keywords Driving Traffic to Our Site
Webmasters making use of Google’s search console will still be able to see a list of keywords driving traffic to their sites from Google, but the connection between users and the keyword they used is now broken. Within Google analytics we are shown the dreaded “not provided” phrase that has replaced most of what use to be detailed keyword lists.
So it is becoming very difficult to get good data on a very specific keyword and how successful it is in relation to your web visitors.
We can Still Track the Ranking of a Keyword
We can still use SEO tools like SEMrush to track changes to a website’s ranking for a particular keyword. This helps us gauge how well we have done to convince a search engine that we’re the right website for that particular keyword.
But this practice of competing for these highly competitive keywords is a race to the bottom. Search rankings change as soon as the search engine releases an update to the algorithm. What’s more is that your competitors can eventually dethrone you from a particular keyword if they put up enough of a challenge. This is for the most part an unpredictable strategy and businesses don’t like unpredictable scenarios.
Long Tail Keywords Becoming More Popular
People are getting more used to typing longer phrases into the search engines now. Every day search engines show results for searches that have never been shown before.
We can’t expect to be able to include every keyword combination somewhere on our site, so we need to adapt our thinking and start structuring our sites to support a better user experience. This is what will drive traffic from search engines in the future.
A Keypage Strategy Helps Us Become an Authority on a Subject
Search Engines are not just looking for the keyword on your pages anymore, they want to know you are the authority on the subject matter. They’re getting really good at identifying the topic and meaning of what a searcher wants, rather than just simply matching the keywords together.
The search engine knows all the websites that are the authority on certain subjects and they know that those websites are the best websites to send the searches to. So A keyword strategy is designed to help us create content so we can be seen as an authority on a subject in a structured and efficient way.
A Good User Experience
We were never really supposed to be cramming keywords into our sites anyway, because it is not helpful to our users. Targeting them with a very specific keyword by cramming that keyword into a webpage as many times as possible in-order to trick the SERP’s into showing that page actually goes against the objective of what the search engines are trying to achieve.
Google started out relying on matching keywords on a site to a search made by someone on their search engine. This used to be a simple concept and it worked for a while because it helped a lot of people find the information they needed.
It doesn’t work anymore because it’s way too easy to manipulate the system so that you can get your site to the top results. It needs to be about quality of content now and search engines are getting smarter at identifying which sites have the best quality content for a search.
A good user experience usually means that the SERP’s are sending people to webpages that have helpful content on them and will hopefully help that person to get an answer to the question they had. A bad user experience is when they arrive on a low quality page stuffed with keywords and a bad user experience means the user will feel frustrated, which is bad for search engine business.
You Can’t Replace Good Keyword Research
Go ahead and produce your list of keywords that you research based on volume, and competitors and so on, we are going to take it a few steps further now. We’re going to group those keywords into topic hubs and sub topic hubs and we’re going to use these hubs to inform our content writers on what content they need to be writing about.
Each topic hub has numerous subtopic hubs. So It’s like having a hub inside a hub, but don’t worry I’ll give you examples below to help you understand how it works. What you need to understand now is that a hub is a central page that serves to connect many pages together and also, hopefully, attracts a lot of relevant traffic.
What is Keyword Intent?
Let’s say you’re considering becoming a qualified plumber and you’re looking for colleges that offer plumbing courses. You type the phrase “plumbing courses” into google.
The intent of the searcher is to be able to find a plumbing course and the topic is plumbing courses. A good user experience would mean that the searcher is directed to a page that offers information about a plumbing course offered by a college.
For every page in a keypage strategy, you should know what the intent the searcher has when they land on that page. We use intent to decide which keywords should be grouped together and we use intent to tell us what content we should put on the page.
What is a Topic Hub?
The topic hub is the central page that represents a broad intent of the searcher. So if we were a college offering many different courses, the courses themselves would be the topic hubs.
In our example with abccollege.co.uk the first topic hub that we are focusing on will be plumbing courses. People who are looking for a plumbing course.
A different example for another company could be for a company selling sports shoes online. The topic hub for such a company would be sports shoes. The actual topic page would be a page that is intended for people who are looking for an online sports shoe website.
What is a Subtopic Hub?
A subtopic hub is a more specific intent that is not as broad, but still related closely to the topic. Let’s say someone wanted to find information about studying to become a plumber, but they wanted to study at night.
They might type the phrase “night time plumbing courses” in the search engine. We could consider this to be a subtopic of plumbing courses, but it needs it’s own dedicated page.
Another example is for the online sports shoes company. For them you could consider football boots to be a subtopic. The intent is to find football boots specifically and not just a sports shoe website. It would be a waste to not focus on this specific intent and to let search engines know you have relevant content around this and not just around sports shoes.
Intent: Find a plumbing course
|Night Time Plumbing Courses|
Intent: Find a plumbing course they can attend at night
Intent: Find a plumbing course
|Part Time Plumbing Courses|
Intent: Find a plumbing course they can study part time on
Intent: Find sports shoes
Intent: Find football shoes
Intent: Find an online shop that sells ladies shoes
Intent: Find an online shop that sells high heel ladies shoes
Topic Hubs & Subtopic Hubs Help US Become an Authority
The search engines will see that we have a lot of content around sports shoes for example. We also dive deeper into sports shoes categories like rugby or football boots, but the idea is to show we are an authority on the topic and the subtopics.
It is in the search engines best interest to send people to our site because even if they don’t find the answer they are looking for on a specific page, it is likely they will find the answer on our website because we have a lot of structured content on the topic and not only that specific subtopic.
We can’t really be a hub if we don’t have lots of other pages connected to our hub. Support pages can support topic hubs and subtopic hubs.
They can be other mediums like an embedded video that has the same intent as the topic hub page or the subtopic page. PDf’s, videos, blog posts, landing pages, fill in the form pages etc.
These pages all help with link juice and are linked directly to the hub. Support pages don’t have to actually be a child url of the hub parent, they can be located anywhere on the site.
We need to be aware of the support pages so that we can insert Call to Actions on them to drive traffic to the hub page and also we want to include them into our reporting for that hub, so that we get a good indication of how well all our related content is doing to drive traffic.(Later on we look at reporting)
Let’s Look At the URL Structure of such a Setup
This whole exercise would be rather pointless if it didn’t help us to also be able to structure our URL hierarchy. So I’m going to show you how a few examples that can be used in a fairly easy to understand url structure.
The basic website structure starts with the home page.
Then we add the topic hub page
Then we add the subtopic hub page
Being a college they offer more than one course. So we would consider the other courses to be a new topic hub
A subtopic of that could be
What Role Do Keywords Play In This Keypage Structure?
We haven’t removed the need for keywords or good keyword research. We still need to get into the data and look for good keywords with high volume and low competition like always. But we aren’t going to rely on those powerhouse keywords to drive traffic to us in their own individual way.
These keywords are now all part of a hub of keywords that are all related by intent. These hubs are designed to use the power of relevancy in-order to give strength to each other and strength to the topic as a whole. They are not standalone keywords dedicated to a single page.
This will depend largely on your individual project requirements, if there was a way or a rule that we could apply that works for every type of website, then it would be easy to do and everyone would be doing it. Let’s look at a few examples of how I would group some keywords together for the same hub page:
If the hub page was for night time plumbing courses:
Keywords That Could Be on The Same subtopic Hub Page
Keywords That Should be on different subtopic hub pages
|Night time plumbing courses||Part time plumbing courses|
|Evening plumbing courses||Weekend plumbing courses|
|Study to become a qualified plumber in the evening||How to become a qualified plumber|
|Night school plumbing||Basic plumbing courses|
|Evening plumbing courses london||Plumbing courses london|
|Evening plumbing courses surrey||Plumbing courses surrey|
Search Engines Are Becoming Smarter
They are not just seeing the keywords and linking them straight to the closest matching website now. They are trying to understand what the searcher is trying to do and then they are showing results that will best help that user accomplish that.
So if someone was searching for “study to become a plumber at night” and there was no website in the world that had that phrase in it, then the search engine will look at your website because it’s got so much relevant information in it that closely relates to that searches intent.
Also, even if there was a website that may use the same phrase the searcher used, it is possible that the search engine will still list your website above that website in the SERPS, because you have much more relevant content and a better chance of being able to provide a good user experience than the website that crammed that exact phrase into it.
Measuring Keypage Performance
We can now set up numerous performance indicators for our keypage strategy to help us measure the success of our initiatives. What’s more is that not only are we measuring the success of our SEO activities now, but we can also now measure our success in the context of a business objective.
We are not just ranking for a keyword, we are now attracting users based on interest which tells us a lot about what people want from our business and brings us closer to understanding motive.
Within analytics we can group all our topic and subtopic hubpages together and we can then measure the amount of visitors we get from organic search engines. It’s important to make sure you are measuring the pages as landing pages, because we want to measure how well the pages are doing at attracting people from the search engine and not from other pages on our site.
Reporting Your Success
Your reports can break down the keypage strategy into the topics e.g. plumbing courses and then you can break it down into subtopic hubs e.g. night time plumbing courses. You can then even go more granular and show which pages are doing really well or which ones are not doing so well.
It is important to realise that it is still keywords driving the traffic but you don’t need to talk about that in the report and you don’t need to go into specific keyword detail because it’s not relevant any more.
Strength in Numbers
If you lose a position or two for a keyword it shouldn’t be the end of the world anymore, your hub should be able to retain its volume of traffic it is still receiving because the search engine will be sending you traffic that is based on intent and not only keywords.
Your success is no longer measured by how well you do at getting a keyword to the top of the SERP’s, it is measured by the amount of relevant traffic you’re receiving from the SERP’s.