What Do You Need to Balance When Doing SEO?

SEO or search engine optimization can be a real pain in your neck not because it is hard, but because there’s just too much “stuff” to juggle and to keep track of.

In most cases, achieving SEO success is about knowing which part to prioritize and which can be temporarily dialed down.

That’s why, as SEO veterans, we are here to tell you all about what you need to balance when doing SEO.

Meeting User Intent vs. Optimizing for Search Engine

When balancing between matching user intent and optimizing for search engines, user intent always comes first and should be the priority. Optimizing for search engines is also necessary, but not without sacrificing user intent or user experience.  

Back in the day, you could just upload a blog post that implements keyword stuffing techniques and Google would still rank it on the first page.

However, those days are long gone.

Now, the first rule of creating SEO-optimized content is to satisfy user intent. This is because, with the introduction of various SEO and content writing tools and the inclusion of AI, content creation and optimizing for SEO is much easier.  

As a byproduct of using these tools, website owners often create content that doesn’t answer the search query and is stuffed with keywords. This hampered the quality of the SERP and users started relying on other platforms such as Quora, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, etc. to find the information they needed. 

To fight this, Google took some serious steps.

In 2022, they released the helpful content update, where they specifically told webmasters to create people-first content. 

Then added “Experience” to the search ranking evaluation guideline, which was previously “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.”

In the previous year, they released guidelines on AI-generated content, saying that as long as it’s helpful and gives the reader what they want, it doesn’t matter how it’s created.

In the March 2024 Google spam update recognized websites that use AI to bulk post content as spam and completely de-indexed them from the SERP.  

All of these updates point to the war that Google is waging against unhelpful content to preserve the quality of the SERP.

So, it’s obvious how important meeting user intent is and how it is impossible to create helpful content and rank without meeting the search intent. 

But does that mean, the old way of optimizing for search engines is obsolete? 

Technically no, but it certainly has lost its importance. Now, optimizing for user intent is mostly enough to create quality content. That’s because if you cover a topic well, the related keywords will automatically come up within the content. 

Still, you need to research and include the keywords or subtopics that you might’ve missed, which you put more value into your content. To that end, following the SEO best practices is enough to optimize the content for search engines. 

This allows search engines to better understand the depth and relevance of the content, ultimately resulting in a positive user experience and a higher search engine ranking.

Here’s how you can optimize your content to meet search intent while also optimizing for search engines:

  1. Include LSI keywords throughout your content. LSI means latent semantic indexing which are related phrases and words that Google uses to understand the content’s depth and relevance to a topic. 
  1. Make sure to maintain a healthy keyword density as putting too many keywords will be considered keyword stuffing.
  1. Focus on ending the user’s search journey as soon as possible. That means, make sure your content directly addresses the pain points or information needs users have based on their search query.
  1. Provide original research, insight, thought, feedback, etc. Rather than scraping up and merging content from the search engine results, do your best to offer something original to the reader.
  1. Structure your content in a way that it’s easy for the user to find what they are looking for. This involves breaking up the content into headings, subheadings, bullets, etc.
  1. Make sure your content is not full of jargon and instead, easily readable and understandable.    

By following this process to the point you will be able to create high-quality content that attracts natural backlinks. This process of contend-led SEO is also known as Compound SEO

Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords

To balance between short-tail and long-tail keywords, you need to focus and prioritize long-tail keywords to build authority first. Once you have ranked for enough long-tail keywords, you can then focus on creating content addressing the short-tail keywords for maximum output.

We all know that keyword research is a fundamental part of SEO. If you have ever researched keywords, you will know that short-tail keywords have an insanely high search volume and are impossible to rank for because these keywords have high competition and are vague. 

But if you can rank for them, you can get a lot of organic traffic and in turn, you get more natural backlinks, brand exposure, conversion opportunities, and even a huge spike in revenue.   

On the other hand, ranking for long-tail keywords is much easier, but you may not get the exposure and traffic you desire. 

That’s why you need to build topical authority by ranking for low-hanging fruits (long-tail keywords), which will give you the foundation to compete for the high-volume, super difficult short-tail, seed keywords.

For example, you want to rank for “project management software”, which is a short-tail keyword that is an extremely hard keyword to rank for. Initially, no matter how great your SEO and content are, you will probably not rank for it.

That’s why you need to dig a little deeper and identify narrow topics, such as “project management software for small teams”,  “project management software for construction”, “free project management software”, etc. which are some relevant sub-topic of the short-tail keyword. 

Now, find long-tail keywords for each topic, for example, here are some long-tail keywords for the sub-topic “project management software for small teams”

  • Do small teams need project management software?
  • How to choose project management software for a small team?
  • Types of project management software for small teams.

Since these keywords have very low search volume and competition, you can easily rank for them with quality content. Then, you can create content on “best project management software for small teams” and rank for it because now Google thinks you are an authority on this sub-topic.

Don’t forget to use internal linking between the contents of each subtopic and also link the subtopics to the main topic. Doing so will signal the crawl bot that all of these contents are related to each other. 

Repeat the same process for the other sub-topics and finally, you can build topical authority on the main topic “project management software” and rank for it.

Although the process seems very simple on paper, it takes years to build authority in any given topic.  

Obviously, no one can guarantee a place in the SERP for short-tail keywords (or any type of keywords for that matter) only with topical authority. You also need to have a proven link building strategy and a solid technical foundation.  

Informational vs. Commercial vs. Transactional Keywords

When balancing informational vs. commercial vs. transactional, aim for 70-75% of your content to target informational keywords. Include 20-25% relevant commercial keywords and use 5-10% transactional keywords. 

Here is a table that shows a better distribution of these keywords:

Keyword Type PercentageTypes of Content Created
Informational70-75%Blog posts, white papers, tutorials, videos, infographics
Commercial20-25%Comparison guides, listicles, reviews, expert opinion articles
Transactional5-10%Product pages, landing pages, special offer pages

Now, you don’t have to follow these numbers like the Bible. The balancing of these keywords will depend on the product you are selling, the type of goals and audience you have, etc. 

But in any case, the majority of the content you produce should be targeting informational keywords and fill up the rest with commercial and transactional keywords. 

Targeting a high amount of informational content lets you build trust and establishes you as an authority in your field. By providing valuable and informative content, you position yourself as a go-to resource for potential customers. 

Also, since informational keywords are top of the content marketing funnel, you can attract a wider audience at the beginning of their buying journey. 

Commercial keywords are in the middle of the content funnel where the user knows they need a product and they are deciding between brands and features. So, by writing comparison articles, product guides, and reviews you are helping the buyer make a buying decision.

Finally, transactional keywords are keywords with the most buying intentions. That means you want to rank your product pages or landing pages for these keywords to get the user to make a purchase.

Suppose, you sell air purifiers and your goal is to get more sales through your website. The first thing you should do is cover some informational keywords to inform your targeted audience which problems you solve. 

In this case, you could be creating content on keywords such as, “How to Improve Indoor Air Quality”, where you can convince the readers that they need an air purifier. 

Once you have successfully done that, the user will want to know about what are some of the best air purifiers available on the market. To satisfy that need you can write an article on the “10 Best Air Purifiers to Check Out in 2024”, and link it to the  “How to Improve Indoor Air Quality” article. 

This way you can let the reader know about prominent air purifiers including your brand. 

Finally, when the reader has decided what type of air purifiers he needs with what features and is ready to buy, you can direct him toward your landing/product pages that explain the specific features and benefits of your air purifiers. 

Creating New Content vs. Updating Existing Content

The balance between creating new content and updating existing content depends mostly on the age of your website. For example,

  • If your website is relatively new, focus most or all of your efforts on creating new content. 
  • If your website is established and has been around for quite some time, like a couple of years, divide your efforts equally between creating new content and updating your old content.
  • If your website is mature and quite old, focus mostly on updating previous content.  

Let us explain further.

For New Websites

As a new website owner, your priority should be getting noticed by the major search engines, which means you want your website to be crawled and indexed as soon as possible.

That is why, content freshness is key.

Search engines prioritize fresh content, so a steady stream of new information will bring the crawlbot to your website on a regular basis. As a result, your content will be discovered and indexed. 

Also, the starting days are crucial for building your niche authority. The content you publish at this stage will demonstrate your industry knowledge and get you more impressions.

On the other hand, if you fail to publish content on your new website regularly, it will be harder for your content to index and rank. That’s because search engines allocate a “crawl budget” to revisit and index websites. 

If your site’s activity is irregular, it will spend less time crawling it, which will lead to crawling and indexing issues. As a byproduct of this, your current content will also lose its ranking and impressions.

For Established Websites

With a website that’s already established in your niche, you should already have some authority and traffic, which should try to maintain and stay relevant.

You need to keep adding new content to stay relevant in the industry by taking advantage of the new, emerging ranking opportunities.

Besides, you need to update the content that has built the authority your website enjoys now. With time, information gets outdated, new SEO trends develop, and more competition appears. 

That’s why, to maintain and potentially improve your SERP rankings, it’s crucial to update your old content.

Here are some of the things that you need to look out for when updating old content:

1. List down the old content that needs updating. For instance, content that is older than 6 months or a year, is probably the ones that need updating. 

2. Update and add the latest information. For example, if you have an article about “Best Running Shoes”, add new products that fit the bill. Also, remove old products that are no longer relevant.

3. Update titles, meta descriptions, etc. For example, if you have a post title of “Best Running Shoes of 2022”, you need to update the current year. Also, add or update relevant images. 

4. Improve readability and look for grammatical errors.

5. Check and fix any broken links and find new internal linking opportunities.

For Matured Websites

When the website has fully matured, you likely have a vast content library. Due to this, your sole focus should be on how your content is performing, single out the ones that not performing as expected, and optimize them to get the best outcome.

This scenario requires you to perform an elaborate content audit.

To perform a content audit, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Set clear objectives (e.g., improve SEO) and choose success indicators (e.g., track organic traffic) to measure progress.
  1. List all your content and categorize it for easy analysis (e.g., type, author, target audience stage).
  1. Use analytics tools (like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc.) to assess how each piece performs based on your chosen metrics.
  1. Review each piece’s performance and alignment with goals. Decide whether to keep, repurpose, update, or delete it.
  1. Create a plan for each content piece based on goals (e.g., update keywords, social media marketing, email marketing, link building, etc.).
  1. Maintain a regular audit schedule (at least once a year) to track progress and adjust your strategy as necessary. 

Technical SEO vs. On Page SEO vs. Off Page SEO

First, focus on technical SEO as the foundation of your website. Once you have a solid technical foundation, you can build upon this with high quality content. When your content matures after some time, you need to promote your content through off-page SEO tactics.

What we mean is that when it comes to these three SEO fundamentals, you can not prioritize one over the others. All of them are equally important and need your undivided attention, at different stages of your marketing campaign.

To understand this better, let us explain with an analogy.

Imagine you want to build a house. You wouldn’t just start laying bricks on the ground. First, you’d need a strong foundation – a sturdy base that can support the entire structure.

Technical SEO is like that foundation. It ensures your website’s underlying structure is sound. This includes elements like site structure, mobile-friendliness, page speed, etc. 

Just as a house would break down without a foundation, your website will too without technical SEO.  Neil Patel also agrees with us, as he said, 

“No website can stand without a strong backbone. And that backbone is technical SEO.”

After you build a house, you can focus on the design and interior. This is where you make the house beautiful and functional. You’d choose the right paint colors, furniture, lighting, etc., to create a space that’s both visually appealing and comfortable to live in. 

For a website, this would be the content. Your website content should not only be useful and relevant to your target audience but also cater to user experience.

Last but not least, if you want to invite guests to your house, they must know about the visual appeal and comfort that you offer. This is why, you need to have a good relationship with your neighbors, who will advocate for you, and spread the word on your behalf.

This is what off-page SEO will do to your website. Creating good content is not enough if it is not promoted properly. 

With off-page SEO efforts, like link building and social media promotion, you can build a loyal customer base and relationship with the industry influencers and authorities, who will do your marketing for you. 

Topical Authority vs. Domain Authority

Between topical authority and domain authority, you should prioritize topical authority first to gain credibility in your specific subject. Then once you have that, you can use it to build domain authority for greater credibility. Both of these are vital for a successful SEO campaign but gaining topical authority is important at first. 

Gaining topical authority means proving to the search engines that you really are an expert in the subject you create content on. You can achieve this by making a topical map with the right keywords and creating high-quality content. 

Domain authority, on the other hand, denotes your overall reputation on the web. It’s a broader measure of a website’s overall trust and authority. The domain authority depends on the overall quality and quantity of your website’s SEO content, your backlink profile, the age and history of your website, etc.

But, why should you prioritize topical authority first?

Because, first of all, gaining topical authority is easier and takes less time than domain authority. Also, since building domain authority depends on your website’s overall quality and link profile, having topical authority can help you gain domain authority.

For example, when you establish strong topical authority, you naturally attract a more selective audience who are genuinely interested in your niche. This group of visitors is more likely to engage with your content and develop trust in your expertise. Ultimately, convert into paying customers and build your website authority.  

So, to sum up, you can’t have domain authority without having expertise in your niche.

Applying New Strategies vs. Doubling Down on What Works

You should invest most of your efforts into doubling down on proven strategies. Once you are getting the results you desire and meeting your SEO goals, it’s time to invest a little in finding out and keeping up with new SEO optimization trends

There is a continuous debate among SEO experts around the world about how to approach SEO strategy in the coming days. Should we go all out on what we already know or should we research and develop innovative ideas? 

Undoubtedly, the best method would be to achieve a balance between these two schools of thought. But the question is, how do we implement innovative strategies in an environment that is already thriving? Here’s how-

  1. First, you have to keep an eye on what is changing in the SEO industry. Keep in touch with the SEO gurus, attend SEO conferences, and read journals, publications, and case studies. This will enable you to predict any major changes and help you develop new tactics.
  1. Then, we recommend having an expendable site for experimentation where you can test out new theories and strategies without really losing anything. It could be a personal blog,  a subdomain specifically dedicated to testing, or even a temporary website created for the sole purpose of SEO experimentation. 

When experimenting with new strategies, instead of making bigger changes all at once, make one small change. In this way, you can identify and track what is affecting the metrics.

  1. Next up, monitor the results of your experimentation. Is there a slight change in traffic or CTR? If so, is it a single action or a combination of multiple changes? Document every change associated with any changes that you make.
  1. After that, make a detailed plan about how you can implement the newfound tactics to your original website. 

Remember, you should only go for researching new strategies when you have successfully implemented proven strategies. This ensures a strong foundation for your website and minimizes the risk of jeopardizing your current SEO effort.

Too Frustrated Balancing the SEO Tasks?

Balancing SEO can be frustrating, and we know exactly how you feel. That’s why we recommend you leave this tedious work to us experts in VizibleSEO. 

With a combined experience of 23 years, what is a problem for you is just another day at work for us. So, give us a call and we’ll give you a free audit and the best SEO service possible. 

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