Those writing for SEO need to be conscious of how users are being more conversational in their search queries and how search engines are analyzing phrases over keywords.

This is part two of a four-part series about writing for SEO for supply chain marketers.

Last week, we kicked off our Writing for SEO series by taking a look at how search engines are changing. As we delve further into updated strategies for effective SEO writing for supply chain marketers, today we’ll explore the ways in which people are changing their search behaviors, and what that means for your content.

Search queries are turning conversational

Before we start quoting studies and scholarly research, think for a minute about how you search the web, and how that’s changed over the past several years. Chances are, you do lots of searching on your phone, sometimes using voice search. (“Siri, what’s the fastest pizza delivery in my neighborhood?”) And you’re probably “talking” to the internet more like a friend than an encyclopedia.

The studies back us up. According to HubSpot’s blog, “Amplified by the rise of mobile and voice search, queries have become more and more conversational.” While a few years ago, people tended to enter a single term into a search engine, they’re increasingly asking questions and using full, complex sentences.

Search engines are responding. In order to understand this new type of query better, much of Google’s product development in the past 3-4 years has been about natural language processing. The 2013 introduction of Hummingbird, Google’s search algorithm, is a prime example.

Writing for SEO with topics over keywords

Search algorithms like Hummingbird have begun analyzing phrases rather than relying solely on keywords. This is big news for writing for SEO. As Google and other search engines move from keyword to topic-focused SEO, you need to be adjusting your content strategy to maximize your visibility.

We pointed out last week that keyword rankings aren’t as reliable as they used to be. In summary, search engines have evolved beyond the point that everyone gets the same results from a query (depending on location, search history, etc.). Therefore rank can change drastically depending on context. Now we’re looking at the same issue from the user end.

“The traditional view of ‘keywords’ in search has changed,” according to HubSpot. Traditional writing for SEO technique tells us that there were about 10-20 “big keywords” that were sought after for ranking within a topic. Now, there are hundreds or thousands of “long-tale variations” that people regularly search for within a topic — and change based on location.

To boil it all down, it’s no longer enough to dominate a few words. What’s important is broad visibility across a topic.

Make sure to read the other posts in our series, part 1: Writing for SEO: Search Engines are Changing and part 3: Writing for SEO: Topic Clusters and Pillar Content (NOT Keywords).

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