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Topic-Based SEO vs. Keyword-Based SEO: Which One Should You Choose?

For marketers, SEO has been a buzzword for the past couple of years. Any piece of content on the web needs to be search engine optimized. What does that mean for your content?

Greater visibility increased brand awareness and higher on-site traffic. That's only the tip of the iceberg. Before looking into the benefits of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), let's take a few steps back.

With Google coming up with new updates now and then, most SEO best practices have become outdated.

A keyword can rank for multiple other related ones, which seems like it could be better. But can you cover everything under a topic-based strategy?

What approach should you use? Let's help you end the debate between "Topic-Based SEO vs. Keyword-Based SEO."  

What is the Difference Between Keywords and Topics?

When we think about traditional SEO, keywords take precedence over everything. These are the terms typed into search engines to look up related content. Suppose a user wants to find out how to use SEO for brand awareness. They'll look up terms such as: "SEO brand awareness" and other similar words.

Whereas, if we'd go down the topic route, it represents the central concept of the blog post. So the content will be centered around that particular idea. For example, a customer needs to find out about cars skidding. The relevant article would discuss skidding cars, how to avoid them, and so on.

Source: VeHQ

Now that you’re able to differentiate between the two. Which approach would you go for?

Which Strategy is Better: Keyword Based SEO or Topic Based SEO

Traditionally, SEO strategies prioritize keywords, sometimes leading to keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing always does more harm than good in rankings. The popular target keywords were repeated again and again. Moreover, their readability was not up to the mark. Slowly but surely, your content's value decreases, leading to fewer on-page visits.  

With Google being the primary search engine, most strategies focus on its algorithm. Due to new updates, keywords have become secondary. When planning a piece of content, it's essential to see how you can include everything relevant about that topic.

How does one do that? Here are some tools that can help you out:

  • Knowledge panels
  • Keyword research tools
  • Google’s Auto Suggest and Related Topics feature
  • Google Trends Related Topics and Related Queries report

Suppose you want to write an article about improving sleep cycles. Google Trends and its related queries feature can help you figure out which question users are keen to have answered.

Source: Themeisle

This overview can help create the structure of a well-thought-out piece. Of course, not all queries can be answered in a single post. At times, related pieces can be produced to provide a bigger picture to the user.

That doesn't mean we should discard the concept of keywords altogether. Focusing just on a topic-based approach means you're looking at subjective data. You can increase your content's value by answering high-volume queries.

There should be a middle ground where topics use keywords to target the primary search intent of a user.

How To Create A Hybrid Topic And Keyword SEO Strategy

A keyword-based strategy and a topic-based strategy should ideally produce similar results. But that isn't the case. With 15% new daily searches, it can be difficult to highlight all the keywords or topics under the sun.

However, there's still an 85% chance you can cover all relevant material following the framework below:

Use Keyword Research Tools to Find Related Queries

As mentioned above, quite a few tools, like Google Keyword Planner, can help you find the target keywords for your topic. Make a list of all those relevant keywords you can find. Look at the search volume, difficulty, and click-through rate to identify which can drive the most traffic to your content.

You also have to focus on competitor sites. What keywords are they highlighting? Are these the ones you've listed down? What other intents are you missing out on answering?

When you've cross-checked all the related keywords, you can direct your content in the right direction.

Compile Keywords into Topic Clusters

A simple way to arrange the keywords is to identify which topic umbrella it falls under. Say you're writing about "the best massage techniques." You'll find related keywords such as " best massage techniques for relaxation," "best massage techniques for back," "types of massage techniques," etc.

The search intent is to find the methods one can use for massages. You can use "types of massage techniques" as an anchor point to include the other two keywords.

This way, structuring the content becomes simpler. You can further break down the techniques by "body region," " tissue region," and so on. You can encompass all the details in one article without giving up any of your keywords.

Get to Writing Your Blog

Once the framework of content is ready, you need to research. Think from a user's point of view as to whether there are any knowledge gaps in your article. Are you creating topical authority in that arena by providing detailed information? Are you covering all the sup-topics for this search intent?

Once you reach a point where you can answer all these questions, you can start creating your masterpiece. You can even gain insight from Ezee Traffic regarding other aspects to focus on to succeed in SEO.

Merging Them Is The Answer

Sticking to traditional keyword methodology can only take you so far. A topical approach can make your content a one-stop-shop for any topic you cover. That's why you can focus on something other than topic-based SEO or keyword-based SEO.

You must merge the two approaches to pave the right path for your site. Doing so will not only create authority with your audience but also with Google. Plus, you get the bonus of having better site traffic, improved ranking, and on-page SEO.

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