Caz Adlington, Natural Search Content Producer at iCrossing, explains how to ensure your content is seen in the right place and at the right time
In case you hadn’t noticed, content marketing is the hot topic in digital right now. Everyone is in agreement that great quality content is one of the essential ways for brands to connect with their customers online. In the world of search, links are still our main tool for increasing visibility and driving traffic to our clients’ sites; but that doesn’t mean the content marketing train is passing us by. Brilliant content is how we can earn quality links, which means all the content that a business puts out there needs to be providing maximum SEO value.
It’s not just about the volume or authority of the links your site attracts. The relevance and topicality of the context in which a link appears can make or break the value of that link. You can write the most entertaining or informative article of your career, but if it’s picked up by a site that Google deems irrelevant to your niche the link could be interpreted as spam.
The upshot is that you need to have a strong voice in your own market. You need to be getting featured on relevant, topical websites. And you need to ask writers to include links to the most relevant possible page on your website.
To get this right, it helps to understand how Google decides what is relevant to your website and niche. In all likelihood, Google is using something called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) as part of its algorithm.
LSI helps to determine the meaning behind the text on a webpage by identifying groups of words and phrases that frequently appear in close proximity to one another all over the web, and are therefore likely to be semantically related. This is much more intelligent than simply finding any old webpage which has an exact match for your search query. It’s Google learning to think less like a machine and more like a person.
Here’s an example. If you own an office chair company your keyword portfolio will probably contain terms like:
- office chair
- mesh back chair
- ergonomic office chair
- leather seat
Because these are all different types of chair it’s pretty easy to conclude that the terms are semantically related. An LSI algorithm would take this a step further – it would know that all six of those key terms regularly appear on webpages that also contain a range of other words belonging to the wider semantic category of furniture (e.g. table, desk, stool, curtain, carpet, lamp etc.).
This allows the relevance of two interlinking sites to be determined based on the co-occurrence of semantically related concepts, rather than keywords alone. So if a website which is predominantly about desks links to your website from an article about office furniture, Google will be able to recognise the relevance of the link because its algorithm can see that both websites are talking about things which belong to the broader category of furniture – even though they each have a different overall focus.
Being aware of LSI can relieve some of the pressure on writers and creative folk to feel like they have to stuff keywords into text in order to meet the SEO objectives of their business. Researching the wider semantic categories that are relevant to your website and overall niche is an important step towards understanding how you can write for both your audience and for Google without compromising the integrity or quality of your content.
Anyone who creates content for your business should be aware of the potential SEO benefits their work could provide, and optimising that content for search should be an integral part of the content creation process. In the future it is likely that we will see relevance become an increasingly important signal for Google to determine the value of a link, so getting to grips with how the algorithm works will help you to stay ahead of the game and make your content work even harder.