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Keywords Are Overrated

Chris Bardsley / 07 June 2024


Keywords are Overrated: Focus on Topics, Not Single Words

Keywords aren’t the be-all and end-all of SEO anymore. To really get noticed by your audience and Google, you need to focus on groups of related keywords that show you’re an expert on a topic. Think less about single keywords and more about comprehensive, valuable content that covers all angles of your subject.

Today, we’re diving into a topic that’s been overhyped, misunderstood, and often downright misused: keywords.

Why Keywords Aren’t Enough Anymore

For years, marketers and businesses have treated keywords like the holy grail of SEO. The idea was simple: find the right keyword, sprinkle it throughout your content, and watch the traffic roll in. But here’s the thing—this approach is outdated and, quite frankly, lazy. Google and other search engines have evolved. They don’t just look at individual keywords anymore; they evaluate the overall context and relevance of your content.

Think about it this way: if you were searching for information on making the perfect pizza, would you prefer an article that just repeats the word “pizza” a hundred times, or one that covers everything from the dough to the toppings, baking techniques, and even pairing suggestions? Exactly.

The Shift to Topics and Clusters

Nowadays, SEO is all about topics and keyword clusters. This means instead of focusing on one keyword, you create content around a cluster of related keywords. These clusters should comprehensively cover different aspects of your main topic, showing search engines that you’re an authority in that area.

For instance, if your main topic is “digital marketing,” your keyword cluster might include terms like “SEO strategies,” “content marketing,” “social media tactics,” and “email marketing tips.” By addressing all these related subtopics, you provide a richer, more valuable experience for your readers—and Google notices.

Why This Matters to You

So, why should you care about this shift? Simple: better rankings, more traffic, and ultimately, more business. When you focus on creating comprehensive, topic-based content, you’re not just playing Google’s game—you’re providing real value to your audience. This builds trust, keeps visitors on your site longer, and increases the likelihood that they’ll convert into customers.

Breaking Down the Process

Let’s break it down into actionable steps:

  • Identify Your Core Topic: Start with a broad subject relevant to your business.
  • Research Related Keywords: Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google’s Keyword Planner to find related terms and phrases.
  • Create Pillar Content: Write an in-depth article on your core topic. This is your cornerstone piece that provides a comprehensive overview.
  • Develop Cluster Content: Write supporting articles that dive deeper into the subtopics related to your pillar content. Each should link back to the main pillar article and to each other where relevant.
  • Optimise for Search Intent: Make sure each piece of content addresses the specific questions and needs your audience has. This means going beyond just keyword inclusion to truly understanding what your audience is looking for.

Example: Turning Keywords into Topic Clusters

Let’s say you’re running an SEO agency (like yours truly). Instead of focusing solely on the keyword “SEO tips,” you’d create a pillar page titled “Complete Guide to SEO in 2024.” This page covers the basics of SEO, why it’s important, and general tips.

Then, you’d create cluster content such as:

  • “On-Page SEO Best Practices”
  • “Off-Page SEO Strategies”
  • “How to Perform Keyword Research”
  • “SEO Tools You Need in 2024”
  • “Technical SEO Tips for Developers”

Each of these articles would link back to your pillar page and to each other where it makes sense. This interlinking signals to Google that all these pages are related and part of a broader topic cluster, improving your chances of ranking well for your main and related keywords.

Putting It All Together

Focusing on keyword clusters rather than individual keywords isn’t just an SEO tactic; it’s a content strategy. It requires you to think holistically about the information your audience needs and how best to provide it. By doing so, you not only improve your search engine rankings but also build a more engaged and loyal audience.

Remember, SEO isn’t about gaming the system—it’s about serving your audience. When you shift your focus from keywords to topics, you create better content, provide more value, and ultimately achieve better results.

So, next time someone tells you to cram more keywords into your content, tell them to think bigger. Focus on the topics, create valuable content clusters, and watch your SEO efforts pay off.

Until next time, keep it real and keep it relevant.