Which Came First: The SERP or the Keyword?

We know, we know – you want your site to rank number one on the search engine results page. You’ve been asking, “How do I get to the top of that page?” as if it bears the same weight as, “How do I get people to buy my product?”

Yes, organic search engine optimization is critical for getting eyes on your website but what you may not know is that SEO has to do with a lot more than just keyword targeting and other magic that pulls your site to the top of the SERP.

Does keyword targeting still make a difference?

As we hone in on the end of another year, we’re older and wiser than we once were. That’s just as true in the digital sphere as it is anywhere else in life, and a lot has changed in our sphere since January 2016. As a matter of fact, Google’s algorithm changes about 500-600 times per year. Google is deep into machine learning, which is the technical concept that explains how robots could take over the world.

Since we’re working day-in and day-out with this robot that loves to keep us on our toes, we’ve been spending more time applying our knowledge to what we know works rather than wasting time trying to figure out how it works. Chances are, it’ll change again as soon as we figure it out, so what is that knowledge really worth?

Keyword research is still an important foundational aspect of search engine optimization methodology, but it is not the end-all, be-all. It never really has been, either. Keyword research and targeting, while seemingly one of the more concrete SEO concepts that non-SEOs feel comfortable latching on to, has always been one of literally hundreds of different factors that come in to play in the work we do for you.

So,what SEO tactics should I be focusing on?

Place yourself in the searcher’s shoes for a moment. Maybe you’ve noticed that Google is now able to answer your longest and most detailed questions. It can also answer questions that are specific to your location better than ever. Above all else, it’s pulling answers off of websites and in to its proprietary boxes and maps to better serve you … all to ensure that you can access the information that you need as quickly and easily as possible.

This is because it knows that you’re searching for that “auto repair shop that deals with weird smells near me” from your phone and, therefore, assumes that you might actually be in said car that needs repair at that exact moment. I mean, you’re probably not driving and searching at the same time (right?! Because no one we know does that …) but still – it knows you need this info quickly.

Long and detailed questions? To SEOs, that’s long-tail keyword targeting. Answers to location-specific questions? That’s local SEO. Boxes and maps? Those handy little things are called answer boxes and local packs. All of these things take dedicated focus to optimize. But all of these things do the same thing overall – they answer a searcher’s question quickly and accurately. And while Google’s algorithm is edging ever closer to being able to do it for us, we SEOs still recommend this above all else: Make sure that the page content is providing unique information and is being presented to the search engine in an accurate way through the page’s keyword targeting.

In short, answer people’s questions and tell them the question you are answering. If you do that, you (or your product or service) will soon become the only thing a searcher is looking for.

How do I know what’s best for my site?

One of the few things we don’t do at Oneupweb is promise better placement on the SERP. We create well-rounded and specific strategies for each one of our clients, applying our knowledge of best practices and Google’s algorithms to your product or service in order to draw traffic to the site. Search engine optimization doesn’t end with the SERP, however. We spend a lot of time thinking critically about what’s on the page of your site and how those who arrive on the page receive and respond to it.

This is, of course, an individualized and specialized process that changes based on myriad factors such as your industry, your products/services, your KPIs, and your overarching business priorities. Just like your sales team, we can’t operate in a bubble in order to produce the results you’re hoping for. So, when you ask, “How do I get to the top of the SERP?” the answer is, usually, “It depends.” Are you ready to take a ride with us to find out?