No matter where you go looking for information on blogging and SEO, you’ll always find a common piece of advice: write for people, not search engines.
It sounds simple in theory, but what about rankings?
You can write for people, but it doesn’t do them any good if your content is buried under a mountain of other search results on Google.
While the concept rings true, the disconnect lies in the execution. We want to write user-friendly, high-quality posts for our human readers, but we also want search engines to see it as optimized content as well. How can we possibly cater to both parties?
The answer is in advanced SEO tactics that benefit both your readers, and the search engine spiders that crawl your web pages.
3 Advanced SEO Concepts to Elevate Your Content
In order to understand your web pages, search engines ask a very simple question:
“What is this page about?”
As marketers, our job is to answer that question while providing both structure and clues as to what the content on the page means.
This helps the spiders that crawl the page understand how relevant your posts are to certain subjects and queries.
Here are advanced on-page SEO techniques that not only make search engines happy, but also your readers as well.
1. Keyword Usage & Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency
One of the first things we all learned when we started brushing up on the latest SEO tips was the use of keywords. When SEO was first beginning, keywords were thrown in like they were going out of style.
To this day, it still remains a strong foundation for any on-page. Any page you start with will have a focus on the keywords you want to rank for, but just placing them in the content isn’t enough.
You need to ensure that relevant keywords are found on the front-end (the user part) and the back end (where the search engines look). The body of your text should contain these keywords, but don’t forget to include them in these other elements:
- Your H1, H2, and H3 headers
- Within the Permalink structure
- Title Tag and Meta Description
- Image Alt text
Ensure that these elements contain the keywords you want to rank for, in addition to ones placed within the actual body of the post. Remember though, keywords don’t have the same influence they once did. We need to delve deeper to ensure both our readers and our rankings are happy.
I’ve grouped keywords with another concept here called TF-IDF, or term frequency-inverse document frequency. If keywords are the building blocks for advanced SEO, then TF-IDF is the foundation. This concept has a complicated definition, but it boils down to a simple measurement: how important keywords are on a page.
It measures the significance of keywords and phrases by comparing them to a set of documents to see how often it appears in similar content. Words like “the” or “and” appear frequently, but this is true in all documents, therefore they aren’t significant.
That being said, specific words related to your topic that don’t commonly appear in other documents are going to be considered important. Search engines will see these and use these terms to better understand your content.
What does this do for people? It gives you a means of honing in on your topic and finding relevant subjects, ones that don’t appear commonly on other pages. This will help you provide unique and relevant information to your readers.
2. Synonyms and Close Variants
While it may be tempting to only use the keywords and terms you know to be relevant, you are ultimately limiting both your rankings, and the value you can provide to your readers. For search engines like Google to understand the meaning of search queries, they need to understand how one word can have multiple meanings.
This involves giving the algorithm the ability to find relevant synonyms and close variants to the search phrase. Google has a database filled with billions of variations and synonyms for this exact purpose. They use these to find relevant results beyond what the exact search is.
How does this apply to us? Well, it means using natural variations of the keywords we want to target. Doing this allows your content to rank for a variety of phrases that all match the same basic concept. Say someone searches for “car pics”. In your content, you could use phrases like “car photos”, “pictures of cars”, and “automobile photos”.
Using these variations removes any confusion as to what you’re talking about. After all, there are words like “cream” for example that could refer to a lotion, or whipped cream. By providing variations, you clarify your meaning. You also provide your readers with more variety in the content, instead of the same keywords over and over again.
3. Entity Salience
Known as entity salience, this concept goes beyond keywords and TF-IDF. Instead, it examines the relationship between broad subjects, otherwise known as “entities.” For something in a document to be considered an “entity” it needs to be distinct and well-defined. Using the above techniques, you can create strong entities within your content.
The next step is to connect them with other relevant entities. Let’s take the popular Game of Thrones television series as an example. If you’ve established the property as an entity, the next step is to connect it with other entities like the various families in the show. House Stark, House Baratheon, House Lannister, and so on.
Don’t stop there though, take the concept deeper by discussing characters like Jon Snow, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, and so on. Search engines are understanding how concepts connect more and more as time goes on.
This is the next evolution of that ability. By considering this, you’re targeting relevant subjects, and therefore are providing your readers with high-value content that relates to their needs. It’s a win-win.
We started with keywords, then we moved to TF-IDF. From there, we moved into close variants and synonyms, ultimately ending on the broad concept of entity salience. There was a path here, one that led from the mind of search engines and algorithms, to the mind and eyes of our readers.
We start with hard and rigid concepts, but ultimately our goals both now and in the future, are on creating useful and valuable pages for our readers. This flow from keywords to entities perfectly represents that goal and that progression.
How do you reconcile SEO concepts and high-quality content? What tactics do you use? Share your thoughts and your knowledge in the comments below!