This is how to rank for keywords, presented in a new way: that of an analogy. For a straightforward, listlike approach, read my other post about the main checkboxes to tick off to create a “Google will be happy” type of page.
The above heading (“A perfect page of content in terms of SEO”) is an “H1” heading, the ‘1’ meaning the most important of the various ‘H’ headings. You get H1 to H6. What I am writing now is a paragraph, and is also called “body copy or text”, this is of lesser importance than the heading but it adds to the importance of the heading above it.
The best way to think of SEO (if you don’t want to get technical) is to imagine how Google (or other search engines) would have come up with their decisions on how to rank a page in the first place. I like to use the analogy of a book. My favourite book is named ‘War and Peace’ and that is its Title. You then open the book and (aside from things like date of publication) the next thing that stands out to you in the Contents Page. Almost always we we have a list of Chapters, and sometimes an appendix, or list of people, or maps.
Let’s try and interpret this analogy:
- Book title: Website Home Page Title
- Book contents page: Website Menu – typically at the top or bottom of the website
- Book Chapter 1 Title: Website Page Title
- Chapter 1 Text: Website Page body text
Back to searching with Google
Now, with the above in mind (the analogy), imagine you search for the term “War and Peace book” – it will likely want to show you the book title, and the front cover, and in this case: the home page of the website about the book.
Next, imagine you search “Character Pierre Bezukhov from book”, it might show you an excerpt from the book – perhaps in the appendix where it lists all of the characters.
Next, imagine you search “Napoleon battle with Russia in famous book”, that might highlight some text, or a chapter heading from a passage in the book about where Napoleon attacked Russia.
Google can fathom that a website – just like a book – has many parts.
A title, a main heading, supporting headings, and body text.
In addition, there are of course maps, images, people’s names, lists, quotes, references, page numbers, a date of publication, and so much more that makes up a typical book.
Google essentially weighs this all up in terms of priority in two main ways:
- What the searcher is emphasising (In “Character Pierre Bezukhov from book” from earlier, it was clearly the character)
- What a page is trying to convey.
For the latter, if the Title, url, and first heading of a page of content is all about this guy (named Pierre), Google is going to assume for the most part that the page of content is all about that, with supporting information subjugated to those main signals – the signals being: It’s all about Pierre!
To make my point more clear: if the Title, url, and first heading were: ‘War and Peace Book Review”, and then there are eight subheadings, the fifth of which is about Pierre, and the others are about Geography, Russia, Literature, Tolstoy etc etc – it is going to recognise “Ok, Pierre is there, but it’s not the main reason this webpage exists.”
So, let’s get back to the real world, and a real example of a business in Cape Town and what I would do if it were my job to help them rank for a key term.
Worked example of creating only one page of content for a hotel in cape town
If the hotel I was trying to rank for was based in Constantia, in Cape Town I would take a few minutes to look at what comes up when I searched the first few terms that come to mind. Something like: cape town hotel, luxury hotel cape town, southern suburbs hotel, best hotel in south africa, and a few others. I’d get a very tiny gauge of what is going on and I am sure it would show a lot of websites that are platforms. What I mean is: booking.com or trpiadvisor etc.
So, because I don’t want to do my work without meaningful data, I’d use of the various tools I rely on – so about five of them – and collate all the search terms I can think of, and do a basic venn diagram based on three things:
Volume (lots of searches, vs almost none)
Difficulty (hard to rank for, vs easy)
Intent (Are they looking for information, or make a booking)
Knowing humans are not robots (yet) I would cluster all of the keywords into groups based around what I believe could be pages, while keeping in mind, that even with the world’s best content, I may not outrank a site like Airbnb if I am too ambitious. So something generic like “hotel cape town” is likely out.
Moving on, let’s pretend I found out that a keyword like “constantia december vacation accommodation” was like a golden opportunity with monthly traffic of 50 searches, but a super low difficulty, but also clearly with an intent to book accommodation, I’d put in hours of work to rank for that term. Which brings us to the point of this article: how?
Well, based on the above, I’d do something like:
Title: Hotel accommodation in Constantia
H1: Looking for accommodation in Constantia this December?
Body copy: 3-4 opening sentences
H2: Benefits of staying in Constantia this summer vacation
Body copy: List all the benefits in a “listicle”
H3: List various main headings based on “supportive keywords” – ie. ones that would line up under the H2 above, yet we find decent traffic and intent in the keyword research we did earlier.
Body copy: More copy – try and get to 800 words or so, from there up is a sweet spot.
Other key things: Use the right schema, embed images, have clear CTA’s, a performant site – essentially tick all the “technical SEO” boxes, including: link to the content internally from your site, and externally via outreach.
You may wait a full year for results (or 3-4 months) but it will be well worth it when you make 3-4 bookings of R5,000-R15,000 every month thereafter, considering the SEO help and content writing needed might cost you R5,000.