Marketing

Topics vs. Keywords: What’s More Important for SEO?

Topics vs. Keywords

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important process to consider when coming up with content ideas for your blog. Often, marketers will focus on two different things when generating ideas: topics and keywords. But what’s the difference between these two terms, and which one is more important for optimization?

To answer this, let’s take a close look at how search engine technology has evolved over the years and how this affects the most important SEO factors to consider when generating ideas for content creation.

What's the difference between topics and keywords?

What’s the difference between topics and keywords?

Topics are the subjects your content is organized around. If the main topic of your blog is copywriting, this can influence the content ideas for your blog posts. For instance, your copywriting blog may be organized around subtopics like email copywriting, social media copywriting, and public relations copywriting.

Keywords, by contrast, are the search terms you enter into a search engine like Google. A user looking for a blog post about email marketing might enter the keywords “email marketing defined” into a search engine. As a content creator, it’s important for you to include commonly used keywords and phrases in your blog posts to help readers find your content.

Are topics or keywords more important for SEO?

Done correctly, keyword targeting can help your blog posts rank higher in search results, increasing your blog and website traffic. But in the early days of SEO marketing strategy, content creators would “stuff” keywords into their content, repeatedly using the same words to get a better SEO ranking and improve their position on the search engine results page (SERP).

This often led to poor content since posts that just repeat popular keywords don’t read very well. Users would stop seeing the blog as a source of valuable content and its SEO would suffer.

Over time, Google’s semantic search capabilities also improved thanks to semantic search algorithms like Google Hummingbird. This algorithm can evaluate the search intent behind a query and determine if a user is looking for transactional, navigational, or informational content.

In other words, if you type “how to find good fundraising software” in a search bar, Google won’t just find articles with the keywords “good fundraising software” or “find fundraising software.” Instead, its algorithm will determine whether you want to purchase good fundraising software and offer topic options like “Top 7 Fundraising Software Options Your Nonprofit Should Know” or “Best Fundraising Software 2022.”

Unique blog topic ideas that reflect the relevant topics your audience is searching for now have a tendency to rank higher in search engine results than blog posts built specifically around keywords. #searchengineoptimization Click To Tweet

Topic research should be a fundamental part of any SEO strategy

This is why it’s becoming more important to do topic research when generating ideas for your blog. Unique blog topic ideas that reflect the topics your audience is searching for now have a tendency to rank higher in search engine results than blog posts built specifically around keywords.

That’s not to say keyword targeting is completely obsolete, though. Keywords still play a big part in matching users with the right content. And knowing which keywords are best to target helps Google find your blog when your posts’ keywords connect with high-volume search queries.

Let’s examine how topics and keywords should factor into the content ideas of your SEO blog today.

How to choose topics for a well-optimized blog

How to choose topics for a well-optimized blog

In contrast to early SEO content ideation strategies that seek out high-volume keywords and then generate blog post ideas based on them, an SEO topic research strategy prioritizes knowing your audience’s search intent to come up with relevant topics. To gain these insights, take the following steps:

Get to know your audience

If your blog’s audience is made up of your company’s customers, it’s helpful to talk with employees who interact directly with your customers on a regular basis. You might ask your sales team:

  • What challenges are many of your sales prospects trying to solve?
  • How do our competitors come up in sales conversations? What advantages do we offer over our competition?
  • What alternative products or services are your leads considering, and how do our products and solutions compare?

Based on their answers, you’ll uncover common customer pain points and relevant topics to build your blog content around. For instance, if you learn many of your customers are concerned their email newsletters aren’t converting enough recipients into leads, you may want to create blog posts on “Tips for Writing Better Lead-Generating E-Newsletters” or related topics.

Alternatively, you can ask for feedback directly from your clients. Email newsletters, for instance, offer a way to ask your subscribers to share their most prevalent personal or business challenges. Once they start responding, you’ll be able to identify the most relevant topics to develop your blog content.

Find hot topics by joining online communities

Since you want to increase traffic to your blog or website, be sure to look outside your current subscribers for relevant topics. Online communities, such as Facebook or LinkedIn groups, offer a wealth of opportunities to discover the questions, concerns, and challenges people in your target audience are facing. For example, you may find lengthy discussion threads on topics such as common fundraising mistakes or ways to improve customer service.

Once you come across some common questions being posed in these online communities, run a search for them through Google Trends to see how many other people are looking at similar topics. Check out the content already available on this topic and brainstorm how you can expand on it or add a new perspective. As you see how much people are engaging with certain questions or challenges, you can determine if they’re hot topics you should cover in your blog or website.

How to target keywords for SEO

How to target keywords for SEO

Once you generate content ideas based on relevant topics, you still need to help search engines connect your content with your target audience. Thus, keyword targeting is still an important skill to use in your SEO strategy. That said, a keyword’s value is no longer determined simply by its search volume.

Choose keywords that fit search intent

Since semantic search algorithms can now evaluate a user’s search intent, simply choosing a keyword based on its monthly search volume doesn’t always yield good results.

For instance, if you decide your audience wants to read an article about how to come up with a strategy for generating unique blog topic ideas, you might be tempted to use the key phrase “blog post ideas,” which has an estimated monthly search volume of 4,400 searches per month according to Keywords Everywhere.

However, the content these search terms bring up tends to be lists of blog post ideas, not articles on how to develop a long-term strategy for generating content. Thus, using keywords like “content ideation strategy” in your title and headings will help search engines match your blog post with content closer to your article topic. Your search volume might not be as high, but the people who find your posts will be more likely to engage with them — and convert into clients or regular audience members.

Study your competition

Studying the type of keywords your competitors use in their blog posts and websites is a good way to determine how to rank well in search engine results. You can do this by using the same short-tail and long-tail keywords as your competitors in your content to compete for rankings in search results.

Alternatively, you can start targeting keywords your competitors aren’t using in their blog posts and online content to connect with untapped users.

Keep in mind that certain keywords won’t be useful to you if you haven’t established your blog as a trusted authority. If the keywords and search terms you’re using are already bringing up lots of authoritative sources like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic, then your new blog won’t rank that well against big names like that. Instead, create informative content, promote your posts on social media, and build backlinks to your blog to gradually build up your blog’s authority and stand out among your competition.

Importance of keywords and topics in on-page SEO

Importance of keywords and topics in on-page SEO

On-page SEO techniques (also known as on-site SEO techniques) are tactics used for optimizing both the content and HTML source code of webpages, so they rank higher with search engines and gain more relevant traffic.

Websites that follow the elements of on-page SEO are more user-friendly and help visitors know immediately if a webpage will fulfill their search intent. This makes them more attractive to search engines, causing them to recommend your website to users during an online search.

Both keywords and topics factor into on-page SEO although, thanks to modern search algorithms, structuring your website around relevant content topics is more important than including multiple keywords with high search volume in your content.

Webpages that follow good on-page SEO techniques provide content that:

  • Fulfills a visitor’s search intent by using keywords that match the topics being searched for
  • Provides unique material not copied from other websites
  • Cites authoritative and trustworthy sources — or is a recognized reliable source of information of its own
  • Delivers easy-to-read, well-organized material with in-depth explanations or comprehensive coverage of a relevant topic.

In the case of blog posts, offering long-form content (usually around 1,600 words) organized around relevant topics reflected in the titles and subheadings is a good way to use on-page SEO techniques. Using popular keywords in the subheadings can also help optimize the content — however, you should take care that the keywords being used bring up similar content in online searches.

Getting started

Getting started

Are you ready to start offering your readers high-value content that reflects the topics they’re discussing and uses the keywords they enter into search engines? ClearVoice’s content creators are prepared to craft unique blog posts built around the most relevant topics. Get started with ClearVoice today and transform your blog into a source of quality content that’s easy to find online.

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About the author

Michael Jung