Finally on expansion, most times as SEOs, we’re not the experts on the business itself, so make sure you speak to those who are the experts.
A great way to start a new project is to have a set of questions which you can ask the experts so you can learn from them. Common customer queries, pain points they face, barriers to purchase and so on. Your secret weapon for this is to actually sit down with them, buy them a drink and talk to them.
It’s a great way to get real answers and you will get better information than by just sending an email. Speak to the experts, whether you’re in-house or agency side.
My fourth tip is about grouping keywords. You’ve found topics to help build better content experiences. Find all the angles of a topic. You’re looking to find and group keywords with the same intents, where you just build one page and target all those keywords that have the same user end-goal. Find where there are multiple pages we can build and a whole range of potential articles around a topic.
This used to be called the hub and spoke model in SEO. Thanks to HubSpot their article, you can see it’s often referred to as topic clusters or content hubs. The idea is we build hubs of information. There was a great article about this by Samuel Schmitt, it’s an example of how he used topic clusters to build huge amounts of traffic by turning a large article into a pillar page and a series of subpages.
By doing the research and studying the different subtopics in one area you can create a hub so Google thinks you’re not just an expert on one keyword, but on a whole series. The idea of a cluster is about building authority in that topic through a series of articles that interlink with each other.
SEO tools can help you out with finding these topics. Ahrefs use the parent topic mechanism they have, where they put a bunch of keywords under a parent topic, because if you rank for that keyword, you tend to rank for the other ones as well. It’s an idea of building a topic out, so do that when you do your keyword research. Another tool that does this is Moz, where you can group keywords by lexical similarity to show topics.
Last but not least, mapping keywords out by intent. Intent has become a really big thing in SEO in the last couple of years but I still don’t see people using it enough. We want to know what the intent of a search is, or what Google thinks the intent of that search is. We want to know what kind of content we have to build to satisfy that search.
Back in 2007, Rand Fishkin, named four kinds of search intent: navigational, informational, commercial investigation, and transactional. Lots of work since then has expanded this. There’s an article from Content Harmony, where Kane Jamison expanded on this idea to about nine different intents. The idea is to build out the potential intents and the cool thing is there are tools that will give you this intent. SISTRIX, use the intents that are listed in the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as a way of breaking intent down.
This interpretation is based on SERP features. If you have a map pack, there’s probably some ‘visit-in-person’ intent. If they are shopping ads or product ads, then there’s likely to be some commercial intent, and so on. You can learn more about User Intent in our guide here.
I don’t mind how you work it out, what tool you use, but know the intent of your keyword before you start producing content or even think about targeting it. Because if you don’t, how do you know whether you’re actually in a position to address that intent or not, and actually start ranking?
I’ve got an example below of the SERPs. If you look at the SERPs for ‘keyword research tools’, there’s actually mixed intent here. There are some articles and tools directly. You should ask yourself if you can produce the right kind of page that’s going to rank for this keyword. If nothing else, know if your keyword is informational or commercial in intent. If you do that, you can break things down.