Time was when websites wanting to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) would stuff their content with keywords. However, for a few years now, marketing pundits have been predicting that the unique importance of keywords, which have long been a mainstay of SEO strategy, would ultimately fade away. The reasoning has been that search engines would eventually evolve to the point where they better understood user context and intent. Also, given time, search engines would be able to determine a website’s authority on specific topics and better judge how relevant they would be to the user.
Well, it looks like this is exactly what is happening. What will replace keywords? Topic clusters and pillar pages.
Inbound marketing and sales software HubSpot deactivating keyword tool
HubSpot, a popular inbound marketing and sales software has deactivated their keyword tool and replaced it with a “Content Strategy” tool. Its purpose is to simplify content creation by focusing on core topics that are relevant to a website visitor.
HubSpot Academy has a page dedicated to the explanation of this new tool and new terms which I will liberally cite from below.
What is a pillar page?
According to HubSpot, “A pillar page is a comprehensive resource page that covers a core topic in depth and links to high-quality content created for the supporting subtopics. This page should apply consistent on-page SEO best practices, referencing the core topic in the page title, URL, and H1 tag. Ideally a pillar page sits on the top level of your website in a space that already gets a lot of organic traffic.”
The whole idea is that the content on a pillar page is geared to convert visitors into leads and leads into customers.
What are topic clusters?
HubSpot defines topic clusters as follows:
“Topic clusters are comprised of a pillar page and subtopic content that you've compiled for each of your core topics. A topic cluster should contain around 6-8 subtopics that address specific questions your customers may be exploring related to the core topic of your pillar page.
When you create a new topic cluster, you'll define it with a name that summarizes the core topic it will address. The content strategy tool will display the following three metrics in the Core topic validation section to determine if this topic is worth writing about:
- Domain Authority: This is a scale from 1 - 100 that determines how authoritative your domain is, and how likely you are to land on page 1 for that term.
- Monthly Search Volume: This is the approximate number of searches that show up each month for that term.
- Relevancy: This is a 0 - 100% score that tells you how relevant the topic you’ve chosen is to all of the content on your domain.”
What are subtopics?
“Subtopics,” according to HubSpot, “are shorter pieces of content that answer a specific question about the core topic covered in your pillar page. When you add a new subtopic, you'll be able to view analytics in the “subtopic validation” section to determine if your subtopic is a good fit. In addition to Domain Authority, Monthly Search Volume, and Relevancy, you will also see Core Topic Similarity, which measures how closely your subtopic relates back to the core topic on a scale of 0 - 100%.”
Are keywords really gone forever?
The short answer as to whether keywords are really gone forever is “no,” but they won’t carry the same weight that they used to. Google and other search engines have become very intuitive when it comes to search queries. Instead of rewarding pages that contain target keywords, they now reward those pages that answer the searcher’s question best.
The best advice has always been to write relevant, well-written content. Some experts advise you to focus less on keywords and more on organizing your content into topic clusters, with links to and from your subtopic pages. They believe that search engines will identify the topic clusters on your site and then recognize you as an authority in a particular area. The ideal result would be to put you closer to the top of the SERPs.
Google and other search engines are always changing their algorithms and seeking the best experience for their users. This can be unsettling to some, trying to keep up with each of the important new changes. To ease some dismay, recall that in 1996, Bill Gates proclaimed that “content is king.” That still hasn’t changed.
Group Matrix Blog – March 21, 2018 – by Sharon Bowles