Dead Website Trends: Kill Off Traditional Keyword Strategies and Replace Them With Cornerstone Content
Traditional SEO tactics that are no longer relevant
Not to be confused with bird stuffing of any kind, “keyword stuffing” was a once-popular trend that has been baked, for lack of a better analogy. This tactic came into practice when it was easy to manipulate Google and other search engines by simply overloading a website with keywords. While cluttering website pages (even if with unrelated keywords) was a quick fix for increasing rank on search platforms, it created a bad user experience, causing Google and other search engines to crack down on this practice. Now, Google filters keywords in an attempt to promote pages with relevant content, not ones that are simply loaded in the hopes of outsmarting ranking tools.
Although keyword stuffing has positive short-term effects, in the long run, it can be detrimental to your ranking and true page optimization.
Matt Cutts, a former Google engineer, has this to say about keyword stuffing…
We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO’d – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.
Cutts mentioned that Google was working on a way to penalize sites that are “over-optimized” or “overly SEO’ed” nearly six years ago. So why are so many people still attempting to rank higher with keyword stuffing? Likely because they still believe that keyword density is important to search tools, but it isn’t. In fact, SEO expert Moz claims, “the value from an extra 10 instances of your keyword on the page is far less than earning one good editorial link from a source that doesn’t think you’re a search spammer.”
Let’s break it down: Search engines are looking for simple and clean. At the same time, every unique visitor wants a clear understanding of what your website content is about, how to navigate the site, and where to take an action. The more relevant and clean leads to visitors staying on your site longer…which leads to a higher ranked site…which increases the likelihood of future visitors coming and taking action.
How can this be accomplished without the outdated practice of keyword stuffing? We suggest a more user-friendly form of SEO: cornerstone content creation.
An effective substitution: cornerstone content
Cornerstone content is a foundational piece or series of closely related pieces that focus on a specific topic or pain point of key audiences. Cornerstone content can take the shape of a blog, white paper or webinar series. It can live on a landing page to generate leads or be it can be ungated. Regardless, from this piece of cornerstone content, you can extract blog posts, ebooks, presentations, videos, social media posts, infographics and more.
The goal is to create an original piece of content with great relevance and to link back to this piece in as many other resources as possible. On your own social media, in your emails and even through your guest posting strategy. Exposure of a truly quality piece of content helps create traffic and backlinks around this single piece of content, allowing your message to reach even farther and providing two key benefits: organic ranking and increased user engagement.
Ranking through organic link building
According to one Hubspot experiment, cornerstone content campaigns can boost organic traffic up to 43 percent in 3 months. Instead of sharing keywords between diverse topics and trying to rank for all of them, cornerstone content gives you a legitimate (no keyword stuffing) reason to rank for popular keywords — related, of course, to the original cornerstone piece you selected. The key to ranking organically through cornerstone content is to link back to your cornerstone piece as much as possible. This allows Google and other search engines to recognize it as a valid resource related to your selected keyword(s).
Provide visitors with engaging, relevant content
Highly relevant content goes hand-in-hand with increased visitor engagement. If your cornerstone content is valuable to a visitor, they are more likely to 1) spend more time on your site 2) refer other visitors to your site 3) buy into whatever you are selling.
A study done by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that visitors often leave web pages in 10–20 seconds. However, if they stay longer than 30 seconds, there’s a much higher probability they’ll stay for a while, often up to 2 minutes or more. If you can create cornerstone content that is truly valuable for visitors, the potential level of engagement on your website has much higher bounds.
How do you know what’s valuable to visitors? Do your research. Conduct surveys and interviews to see what pain points your customers are experiencing. Research the terms and phrases people are already searching for online. Both of these elements will help you determine the topic and the keywords your piece should target.
Overall, the goal of SEO is to bring traffic to your site and to engage visitors once there. This is much better accomplished through tactics like cornerstone content campaigns (that actually provide valuable content to visitors) as opposed to smoke-and-mirrors tactics like keyword stuffing.
Convinced that cornerstone content is the way to go, but don’t know how to get started? Reach out to us!
Updated: Oct 26, 2020