SEO Tips Optimize your content for people before search engines. Implement a historical optimization strategy. Optimize your content for people before search engines. Only then should you start optimizing it for search engines. To do this, we analyze the keyword’s search engine results page and determine the problems users are trying to solve when searching for this query. To help search engines recognize our content as a trusted authority on certain topics, we decided to implement the pillar-cluster model on our blog. Here’s a visualization of what our site architecture used to look like: But by organizing our blog into topic clusters, our site architecture currently looks like this: Not only is it easier for Google to crawl our blog, identify semantic relationships between our content, and boost our search engine visibility now, but it’s also easier for our audience to search for the content topics they’re looking for, find related content, and spend more time on our blog. Compress your images When you think about optimizing your content for search engines, compressing your images’ file size doesn’t seem like it should be a top priority. Yet, the compressed image still has the same perceived quality as the uncompressed image, and it’ll load much faster. Even though we uncovered five tactics that helped us devise an SEO strategy that shattered a year-long traffic plateau and broke monthly traffic records, it’s entirely possible that they could become obsolete one day.
In 2017, HubSpot experienced something that has never happened to us before — our blog’s monthly traffic flattened. Even worse, it started to decline. So after months of stressing over the mysterious cause of our blog’s traffic plateau, we decided to sit down, chug a bunch of coffee, and find the culprit.
What we discovered is that our strategy of brainstorming topics and relying on our intuition to determine our audience’s content preferences didn’t suffice anymore. And coupled with almost every social media platforms’ unwillingness to send users outside of their website and the ever-growing mountain of emails piling up in people’s inboxes, we knew we needed to overhaul our editorial strategy. So we decided to focus our energies on the channel that has consistently generated the majority of our blog’s traffic for its entire existence — organic search.
Today, almost a year after we implemented our organic-only strategy, we’ve exceeded the majority of our monthly traffic goals and even broke some monthly traffic records. Needless to say, we’re thrilled (and relieved) that our new organic-only strategy refueled our growth in traffic and shattered the great traffic plateau of 2017. And we’d love to share the essential SEO tips that helped us devise this strategy.
- Optimize your content for people before search engines.
- Leverage the pillar-cluster model.
- Develop a link-building strategy.
- Implement a historical optimization strategy.
- Compress your images.
1. Optimize your content for people before search engines.
Even though an algorithm dictates the order of Google’s search engine results pages, you must remember that Google designed its algorithm to reward the web publishers that craft the best content on the internet, not the web publishers that are the best at gaming their algorithm.
In fact, part of Google’s search algorithm ranks your content based off engagement metrics, like total traffic, organic traffic, direct traffic through Chrome, time on site, bounce rate, SERP CTR, brand mentions on authoritative sites, and return visits.
So, to boost your website’s engagement and domain authority and, in turn, generate even better results in the long-term, there’s really only one way to do it — you must attract and engage a loyal audience by creating high-quality content. Only then should you start optimizing it for search engines.
The first step we usually take when optimizing our content for people is understanding the intent behind a keyword we want to target. To do this, we analyze the keyword’s search engine results page and determine the problems users are trying to solve when searching for this query.
After that, we figure out how to effectively solve these problems by mining information from trusted sources, examining our own research, and asking HubSpot employees who experience similar problems how they solve them.
The final and most important step of our content creation process is crafting the most engaging content possible. To do this, we tell stories and relate to our audience’s problems in our introductions, write clear, concise, and compelling copy, highlight interesting findings, data, and quotes in our body text, and include vivid images and videos to provide a variety of stimuli. At the end of each blog post, we keep the momentum going and remind our audience of the thoughts and emotions they just experienced, which leaves them yearning for more content.
2. Leverage the pillar-cluster model.
Since people heavily rely on search engines to provide accurate and relevant answers for most of their questions today, search engines need to understand the intent and context behind every single search. To do this, search engines have evolved to recognize topical connections across users’ queries, look back at similar queries that users have searched for in the past, and surface the content that best answers them. As a result, search engines will deliver content that they deem the most authoritative on the topic.
To help search engines recognize our content as a trusted authority on certain topics, we decided to implement the pillar-cluster model on our blog. By creating a single pillar page that provides a high-level overview of a topic and hyperlinks to cluster pages that delve into the topic’s subtopics, we could signal to Google that our pillar page is an authority on the topic.
Since hyperlinking all of the cluster pages to the pillar page shares domain authority across the cluster, our cluster pages will…