“Write for the user, not the search engines,” continues to be a mantra of content marketing. In reality, smart content creators write for both.
Quality content is interesting, informative, original, AND it includes keywords, ultimately leading to more visits and helping you achieve your why. Quality content naturally builds links, which improves the site authority, which in turn boosts rankings, and gets more eyeballs on your content.
Integrating SEO with your content is the first step. But to really write smart copy, you should look at terms related to what you are targeting and how Google associates those terms. Then incorporate those terms into your content. Or you can use those findings to identify related topics you may want to write about down the road.To really write smart copy, look at terms related to what you are targeting, says @magzsbarr. Click To Tweet
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What is semantically related?
From a high level, semantics looks at the meaning behind words. By taking a semantically related view, we look at the relationship between words. Applying this concept to content marketing, we talk about the types of keywords and phrases typically used when writing about a topic. And we bring in SEO by determining which related terms Google expects to see on a page that can ultimately help your content rank better.
Let’s give an example. Say you are writing an article about the best running shoes for women. You do your research process and select your keywords. But what other words are semantically related to “best running shoes for women”?
As you scan the content ranking for that phrase on the first search engine results page (SERP), you notice a lot of similar language in the more detailed descriptions – comfortable, miles, track, treadmill, trails, lifestyle, 5K, marathon, etc.
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Google AdWords Keyword Planner (free)
Google Keyword Planner often is one of the first places many SEO professionals start their keyword research, but it also can help you look at how Google is grouping keywords.
TIP: Google ties its Keyword Planner to your Google account so you need to log in to access the planner.
Here’s an example. You’re writing about hamburger recipes. You type “hamburger recipes” into the keyword planner and get a variety of keyword ideas. Click on the Ad Group Ideas tab to view terms related to hamburger recipes by related term groups – easy, best, beef, meat, meal, ideas, patty, simple, gourmet, and quick. Click on a group to drill down to more related terms.
Pinterest is a hidden gem for helping you understand semantically related terms and topics. Type a high-level term to see related topics that align with your original topic.Pinterest is a hidden gem for helping your keyword-related term search, says @magzsbarr. #SEO Click To Tweet
For example, type “dolls” and you’ll see specific brand names (American Girl and Barbie). You’ll also see costumes, makeup, clothes, house, and DIY. Types of dolls (porcelain, handmade, vintage, etc.) are also grouped by categories. You’ll also see industry jargon such as BJD (ball-jointed dolls).
If you narrow your search with a long-tail keyword search, you’ll see additional variations. For example, “18-inch doll accessories” shows categories like easy DIY, free pattern, how to make, products, etc.
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BrightEdge’s DataCube can help you find related topics and terms. Put a keyword into its program to see a list of related terms (similar to how Google AdWords Keyword Planner works). You can sort the terms by high search volume (higher than 1,000), long-tail keywords (more than three words), or high value (score of 80 or more, which is calculated using cost-per-click [CPC] value and search volume).
For example, you’re writing a piece on amusement parks and use that as your search term:
The results offer other terms you might want to include in your copy, such as “things to do,” “golf courses,” “water park,” etc.
Conductor’s Audience Intent Explorer helps you discover topic suggestions for your new or existing content based on how consumers are searching for a phrase or discovering content.
For example, type in “golf.” You see a list of keywords that relate to how consumers are searching for that term on Google. To the left, you see filters showing topic suggestions by group. This area is valuable to quickly understand the different themes associated with golf, such as tour, channel, PGA, leaderboard.
At the keyword level, you see data on the phrase, including for what stage of the customer journey it’s used, search volume, search volume trend by month, and competition for that phrase.
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Google Correlate (free)
Google Correlate is another place to find related keywords and phrases. For example, if you are writing about sunblock, you may want to include in your copy some of the terms that Google Correlate shows are related to the term “sunblock.”.@Google Correlate is another place to find related keywords and phrases, says @magzsbarr. Click To Tweet
Not surprisingly, you see a lot of pool, water, and summer terms. Some phrases won’t make sense for your copy – don’t force them. But looking through Google Correlate can help generate a list of semantically related terms to try and include in your content.
Google related searches and auto fill (free)
Another place to check out potentially semantically related terms is the related searches section at the bottom of the SERP. For example, if you search for the term “piano” in Google, you’ll see this:
Don’t forget to check out the auto-fill suggestions too for some good ideas for related keywords and topics.
Moz related topics (fee)
If you have a campaign set up in Moz, be sure to use the related searches feature. Click on page optimization, then type in the keyword and the target URL. Then click on related topics. You’ll see a relevance score and can look at top-ranking URLs for each topic.
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Keywordtool.io (free and fee options)
Another great tool for spotting semantically related terms is keywordtool.io. Type in a keyword and you can quickly scan the list to get an idea of potential related topics and semantically related keywords.
Pop over to the questions tab and you’ll see related question searches, which are great for generating article ideas with topics related to your original query.
Does Your Content Answer Searchers’ Questions?
Incorporating semantically related terms into your copy
Once you’ve done your research using one or more of these tools, you have an idea of terms that might make sense from a keyword perspective to pull into your copy. Should you include them all? Probably not. Not every keyword makes sense for your content. But look for opportunities where it makes sense to naturally weave in some of these semantically related terms.
Keep in mind relevancy is key. If the keyword has no place in your content, don’t force it or your content will sound spammy. Pushing a lot of spammy content on your site will backfire, hurting your authority and creating a bad user experience.
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Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
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Cover image by Wilfred Iven, StockSnap, via pixabay.com