8 Quick Tips To Increase Content Relevance and Boost Ranking16 min read
You may have a solid content marketing strategy but if you don’t pair it with content that’s relevant to a search query…you may as well not bother.
It sounds harsh but if you’re looking to boost your ranking, Google’s number one goal is to satisfy search intent and so ‘content relevance’ is directly linked.
The days of typing in a full website address are almost gone, having been replaced by keywords and search engines. Even your favourite social media platform includes a search engine these days.
If you want to ensure you’re appearing at the top of the first SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page), you need to create the right content that’s detailed and solves a problem.
With the steady rise of ‘zero-click searches’ (we’ll get to those later), it’s now more important than ever to rank highly.
Content marketing 101 – what does ‘content relevance’ mean?
For the algorithms to favour you, this is paramount.
It’s measured by how ‘relevant’ search engines determine a piece of content is in relation to a particular search term or topic. As you’ll soon learn, it’s a digital marketing ‘must’.
As Searchmetrics summarised:
In a nutshell, relevant content should:
- Solve a problem
- Be based on keyword research
- Be timely
- Include plenty of detail to answer search intent
- Target a particular group
There are hundreds of ranking factors to take into consideration and they must all work in harmony to take you to the top spot. Understanding Google SERP features is a great place to start if you’re fairly new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
This quick guide will shine some light on creating effective content for this important element of SEO that’s, somehow, quite often missed.
Relevant content always solves a problem
When people use search engines, whether or not they realise it, they’re looking for a solution to a problem.
To reassure the user that this problem will be answered on your site, it must be immediately obvious. Do this and you’ll reduce ‘bounce rate’ and increase the time users spend on your page.
This means your content needs:
- A solid headline
- A clear format and structure
- Plenty of internal and external links
- Lots of visual stimuli
This also results in a solid user experience, win-win!
These days, around 50% of Google searches end without a click to other content. We know what you’re thinking…“did I just read that right?”
Sadly, yes. Check out Rand Fishkin’s zero-click searches study in association with Jumpshot.
Note: Jumpshot is no more, so these are the most up-to-date stats we could find. If you know of another source with updated information, please let us know about it!
In any case, you’d better make sure you keep anyone who does click on your page interested.
Keyword research is essential for SEO
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with keyword research, Moz describes it perfectly:
“You may have a way of describing what you do, but how does your audience search for the product, service, or information you provide? Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process.”
It works by finding and analysing words/phrases that people type into search engines, to then use that data for (mostly) SEO. Keyword research is designed to uncover queries that are relevant to your niche, their popularity, how difficult it will be to rank for them and more.
According to HubSpot, there are three main factors for choosing good keywords:
- Relevancy (our subject matter)
- Authority level of the sites ranking highly (and how you compare)
- Volume of searches
Top tip: For small businesses with zero budget, here are 10 free options (curated by Ahrefs).
The steps to success are as follows:
- Create a list of words and keyword phrases you’d like to rank for (perhaps your products, services you offer, industry terms etc.)
- Use keyword research tools to expand your list by uncovering related keywords, topics and questions you may have missed
- Narrow down your top choices (this number will vary depending on the size of your business/content marketing team)
- Put these terms into Excel and assess the value and cost of each (including search volume, impressions and clicks)
- Pick your top-rated and start planning!
Relevant content must be timely
As Neil Patel said, “Many marketing campaigns are timely but not relevant. Often, these campaigns fail. Make no mistake––timeliness is crucial. But you can still fail if you send a message at the perfect time.”
So what do we mean by ‘timely’ content?
While a Tweet may not be in the same ballpark as blog posts or articles, they’re still a form of content. The important pairing of ‘relevance and timeliness’ was perfectly demonstrated in response to this serving suggestion from Weetabix:
But Weetabix didn’t just tweet then drop the mic. No, no.
They took full advantage of their timely viral hit to respond to some of the best replies with equally funny responses.
Once the first few replies started rolling in from big brands, social media managers around the globe rolled up their sleeves and got involved.
It’s a simple example but clearly demonstrates the power of timely, relevant content.
So how does this translate to your content? REQ details 5 top tips:
- Build a content library: Stockpile as much high-quality content as you can write that can be brought out as and when you need it.
- Keep on top of trending topics: Pay attention to global events and campaigns (on and off social media). Social listening tools can be really handy to find out what people are talking about. Some that we love include Mention, Sprout Social Listening and Brand24.
- Create content with space for last-minute details: If you’re writing about a major sporting event that happens every year, you’ll only know the two teams that are in the final in the latter stages.
- ‘Newsjacking’: This involves linking your business to a current, trending event for exposure. Oreo provided the finest example of this during the 2013 SuperBowl blackout.
- Engage with your audience: Get involved in conversations with your followers and answer questions from your target market. Influencers build their dedicated followings with this strategy – it takes time but it works.
You must find out what your customers want, where to reach them to provide this and how it will benefit them. If only there was a way…
Enter: Search intent
Include plenty of detail to answer search intent
Behind every Google search is some form of search (or ‘user’) intent. The type of content search engines display depends on the assumed thinking behind specific keywords.
Speaking frankly, the relevance of your content (and ranking) depends on this.
Search intent falls under four categories:
The content you produce for your chosen keywords should fall under one of the above.
The best way to determine this is to search the keywords and check out the top SERP webpages. You don’t want to copy anyone but if the first few results for ‘golf swing’ are things like ‘10 tips for beginners’ or a ‘guide to improving your swing’, it’s clear what people are looking for.
Commercial and transactional intent usually leads to eCommerce pages, highlighted by the shopping carousel under the search bar.
In the case of informational and navigational, this can take a little longer to work out. It’s best to begin with the types of content you’re seeing. Is there a trend towards webinars, infographics or white papers?
Keep in mind the elements we explained back in the ‘solves a problem’ section, as these apply to search intent too.
Search engines love evergreen content
While we’ve covered the importance of ‘timely’ content for relevance, we’re about to (kinda) contradict ourselves.
At the peak of all relevant content lies a type you’ve probably heard of (even if you didn’t know what it meant) – evergreen content.
Named after the evergreen plant (which retains its green leaves throughout the year), it stays fresh, has plenty of time to rank highly, build backlinks and has a constant green light for organic traffic. How? Because its topic never goes out of date.
Here are some examples of evergreen topic keywords (including first-page SERP examples):
Examples of non-evergreen keyword phrases could be:
- ‘LinkedIn marketing trends 2015’
- ‘Upcoming iOS 8 update’
- ‘Christmas events in New York’
Do you see the difference?
To ensure your content lasts through the ages, follow these steps:
- Do some solid keyword research
- Find keywords with consistent search volume/intent
- Create content for those keywords that’s better than anything else out there (‘10x Content’)
- Avoid time-constrained language (e.g. ‘Last month’, ‘Today’)
- Avoid using current trends as an angle (e.g. ‘Life lessons from Game of Thrones’)
“Ok…if this kind of content is so great, shouldn’t all my content be evergreen?”
Despite the long-lasting appeal, as we’ve detailed above in earlier sections, it’s not always applicable. Evergreen content usually can’t centre around a specific person or event as it will soon lack more up-to-date facts and stats.
By generalising your content, you could potentially be decreasing its relevance by omitting certain specifics. If you’re trying to jump on a trending topic, you will need those included to get involved in the conversation.
This is why (to conquer content relevance and boost your ranking) you need to be creating a mix of timely and evergreen content.
Top tip: If you’re looking to learn more about the pros and cons of each, check out this handy guide from Fractl.
Repurpose and update older content
Marketers, listen up.
You have a potential goldmine of content under your digital feet and you don’t even realise!
Marketing campaigns don’t always have to revolve around constantly pushing out new content. Some of your older, more established pieces could be given a new lease of life.
In some cases, your older content could even be damaging your rankings due to broken links and images or for no longer fulfilling search intent. It’s a case of ‘improve or remove’ in the words of Search Engine Journal.
According to this study by Ahrefs, only 5.7% of all newly published pages will get to Google’s top 10 within a year. Those that rank in position one are (on average) almost 3 years old!
Are you confident in the state of your older content? Or could it be holding you back?
If you’d like to reach a new audience and reinforce your content’s message at the same time, here are 8 quick ideas:
- Create an infographic from a wordy blog post
- Break up a listicle post into separate articles
- Update blogs with more recent facts and stats
- Adjust to meet search intent and include a study
- Promote on social media (we can help with that!)
- Turn a post into a digital newsletter
- Turn text into a podcast or video
- Post it on community sites like Quora
Top tip: WordStream has some more ideas (like the screenshot above) if you’re still feeling stuck!
Target a relevant audience with local content marketing
The last question to ask is, ‘who is your target audience?’
Most content cannot be relevant to everyone, so it’s better to direct your work to potential customers. If you have a solid grasp on the type of person you’re aiming for, great! If not, it can be helpful to look at your metrics to create a customer persona.
As Hootsuite summarised, “A buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This is not a real customer, but a fictional person who embodies the characteristics of your best potential customers.”
Things to take into account:
- Where they are located (including the language they speak)
- Age (roughly by decade)
- Spending power and patterns (dependent on their stage of life)
- Interests (including other businesses they interact with)
- Pain points (challenges they face)
It may seem obvious but for those in the back, the language of content must match that of the search term for relevance.
Top tip: If you’d like to make this even more clear for search engines, you can use a ‘hreflang’ tag attribute. This clarifies the language you’re using on a specific page (especially helpful if your site is multilingual).
We’ll stop there as audience research is a whole topic in itself. For a little more insight, watch this video:
But back to local SEO. With studies showing 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, it’s critical if you want your business to stay relevant. Setting up your Google My Business page is the first step on this journey.
Although writing about broader topics applies to a larger number of people, sometimes it’s beneficial to focus on your local area. What could be a more relevant audience to target than those nearest you?
According to Google, the three main pillars for ranking in local SEO are:
- Relevance (achieved by following this guide)
- Distance (how far each potential search result is from the location term used)
- Prominence (trust and credibility determined by links and reviews etc.)
This must apply to each piece of content you create but it’s also about your business/site as a whole. Potential customers must have a fully-formed image of your company. You also need to be visible in search engines and deemed trustworthy.
We promised to keep these tips quick, so for a more comprehensive guide, check out HubSpot.
So there you have it.
If you want to satisfy search intent and claim the top spot every time, content relevance is a key factor. The better your content matches the query, the higher it’ll rank.
The more you do this, the more your domain authority will increase and the easier it’ll get.
Once again, our 8 tips for success are:
- Learn what ‘content relevance’ means to better apply it
- Always solve a problem
- Keyword research. Every. Time.
- Create timely content
- Answer search intent with detail
- Mix it up with evergreen content
- Update and repurpose older content to make it relevant again
- Target your most relevant audience with local SEO
Plan well, create useful content with tons of value and you can’t go wrong.
Do you have any sure-fire content marketing tips for relevance you think we’ve missed? We’d love to hear in the comments!