Mert Azizoğlu reminds SEOs in 2023 that the main logic of SEO has always remained the same. You still need to be aware of how the content that you create is relating to the intent of the users that are searching for it.
Mert says: “In 2023 you should be looking at the relationship between content and search intent.”
What is the content relationship?
“First of all, you should clarify what is happening with the algorithm updates and look at what Google is telling us with them. You will then understand the relationship between content and search intent.
The main logic of SEO has remained the same: it’s to provide a crawlable platform and create useful content for the users. For example, with there being more mobile devices than ever before, mobile-first SEO has become important. Also, EAT guidelines and Core Web Vitals are centred around users being able to access the right information quickly with a good experience. There has also been an increase in AI-based content that is being addressed with Google’s helpful content update.
The common point in all of this is that Google is trying to ensure that users can access the correct information with the best experience. That’s why you need to pay attention to the relationship between content and search intent.”
How do you know that you’re creating the correct information for the right user?
“If you have a landing page that calculates something, for example, you need to host a calculation tool in your content. It would also be important for your content to mention what the calculation does and how it’s used. You’d need to explain the calculation details and add a calculation widget to the landing page because users will be searching around this calculation. It’s important to give the right information that people are searching for.”
Should you take a keyword phrase and look at the SERP to see what’s already ranking for that to determine what content to write?
“Yes, exactly. The discovery/search intent is based on great keyword research. You should execute your keyword research to perfection.”
What’s your process for great keyword research?
“Use it as the roadmap for finding the right search intent for your landing pages. You should start with keyword research and then group all of your keywords into categories based on intent so that you understand the purpose behind them. You can divide your keywords into transactional, informational, navigational, etc.”
When determining what keywords to target at the beginning, how do you go about doing that?
“First of all, you need to know your target audience very well. Then, you need to know your direct competitors and your site competitors. You may know your direct competitors but it’s important to check the SERPs to determine all of the competitors that you have, from the SEO perspective.
Your direct competitors are businesses that sell similar products and services, whereas your site competitors are people that are ranking for the keywords that you want to target. You can have different competitors for your landing pages and different competitors for your service pages.
Then, you can start your keyword research by using SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Keyword Planner. It’s all about high-quality content targeted at the right users.”
In your experience, what is high-quality content and does it change depending on what country or industry you’re operating in?
“High-quality content is based on a well-designed landing page. Regarding text content, you should support this with videos, podcasts, or some widgets. You should follow the old-fashioned steps to creating high-quality content.
You need to pay attention to the search intent that is driving users to the exact landing pages that you are working on if you want to secure high-quality content. AI-based content is improving daily. Google launched the helpful content algorithm update to emulate them. It will be curious to see what’s coming next and what will be expected on the content creation side.”
Some SEOs embrace AI content and others recommend just including it on minor pages without much traffic. What’s your opinion on AI content and how we can effectively use it?
“It’s not only creating the content but creating title and meta descriptions using AI as well. Let’s assume that you have a big eCommerce website with lots of product pages. If you want to get indexed quickly or reduce your work time, you can use AI to create titles and meta descriptions and even product details.
Right now, it’s uncertain how Google detects whether the content is AI-based or not. It would need some NLP data with the help of crawling and indexing as well. AI is a concept that’s worth being open to, but not committing to wholeheartedly.”
How do you produce content that puts the user experience first but at the same time ensures you have SEO in mind?
“This touches on the idea of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), however, you need to pay attention to the user experience for technical SEO too. You should follow the steps to align with the Core Web Vitals guidelines. There are some really good software solutions like PageSpeed Insight and Google Search Console that will help you to improve the website experience according to those guidelines.
You can use some software like Ahrefs to measure your visitor’s interactions, and use CTA buttons as part of your content and measure your user’s interactions with those. You should optimise your content according to the data that tells you how your users are actually experiencing your pages.”
Does improving the UX of your website result in a measurable improvement for your SEO?
“Yes. Five or six years ago, this wasn’t as relevant but now it’s really important from an SEO perspective because users want to access the correct information very easily. You shouldn’t have lots of interstitials or pop-ups on your website, you should focus on giving the correct information to the correct search queries as directly as possible.
Your users need to have their needs met as soon as they reach your site. That’s why you should pay attention to the UX while users are visiting your landing page.”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately counterproductive?
“We used to think that a long word count was good, but John Mueller made a statement about this in 2022. He said that poor content isn’t about word count, it’s about the relationship between search intent and landing pages. That’s why we should pay attention to high-quality content.
Stop producing pages that have no obvious relationship with other things on your site. You can demonstrate what that relationship is by incorporating schema on your pages. Certainly, if you’re an eCommerce site you’d be making a mistake to publish product pages without any markup data on them. Forget word counts and focus on the quality of content and support it with the right schema markups.
Schema markups didn’t used to be important in the past. However, now they are really important and are improving daily. If you’re an eCommerce website, schema tags are becoming more and more important, for example. It’s crucial to make schema improvements to present your product pages better as well.
Otherwise, we should keep the same logic and appreciate the importance of backlinks. We should analyse our backlinks, where internal links are essential. When creating high-quality content you should combine this with other content within the site. For example, if you create a blog post you should add an internal link to important landing pages or the home page. Keep doing what has always been relevant and important, but focus on the relationship between content and intent.”
Mert Azizoğlu is Senior Technical SEO at SEO Sherpa and you can find him over at mertazizoglu.com.
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