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How to Do Keyword Optimization for SEO (3 Steps)

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How to Do Keyword Optimization for SEO (3 Steps)

Keyword optimization is the process of increasing the relevance of a webpage’s content to a given search query.

It’s a fundamental process in SEO because Google aims to serve the most relevant content to its users.

In this post, you’ll learn how to optimize your new and existing content for any keyword.

Step 1. Make sure you’re optimizing for the right keyword 

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Whether you’re optimizing existing or new content, you need to make sure that keyword optimization is worth the effort and that your chances of ranking are good. 

This step is arguably the hardest part of the process, so here are some considerations to think about right from the start. 

Search traffic potential

Measuring the potential of a keyword to bring you traffic can be tricky. Most SEO tools try to solve this with search volume, but that’s not enough:

  • Some searches don’t result in clicks on pages For example, clicks on ads or searches that provide sufficient answers right on the SERP. 
  • Pages can rank for hundreds of keywords while being optimized just for one – So you can actually get more traffic than the search volume indicates. 

A better way is to estimate the traffic that the ranking pages get. In Ahrefs, this is automatically calculated with the Traffic Potential (TP) metric. 

The TP metric sums up traffic estimations from all keywords that the top-ranking page for your target keyword ranks for. This shows you how much traffic you could be looking at if you outranked this page.

Traffic Potential metric in Ahrefs
The TP for the keyword “submit website to search engines” is almost 10 times higher than the search volume.

Value to your website 

Optimize for keywords that can bring you valuable traffic. 

When picking a target keyword, ask yourself what is the practical use of attracting searchers. Is it direct sales, or maybe brand awareness, or building a readership? 

You can map each keyword on a scale that matches your overall goal. For example, your strategy may be to create content that helps the reader solve their problems using your product (aka product-led content). Then, your scale can look something like this: 

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Business potential score

So while there will be no harm in generating traffic with 0 business value from time to time, you may want to focus on optimizing content with a high business potential score. 

Keyword difficulty 

Some keywords will be harder to rank for than others. 

To get a quick overview of the ranking difficulty of a keyword, look at the number of unique domains linking the top 10 ranking pages. The more linking domains, the harder it will likely be to rank because backlinks are still one of the most impactful ranking signals for Google.

In Ahrefs, Keyword Difficulty (KD) is calculated automatically based on backlinks on a scale of 0 to 100. 

Keywords with shoes, different keyword difficulty

So for example, if your website is new and doesn’t have a strong backlink profile yet, you may want to focus on low-competition keywords below KD 20.

There may be other factors that can come into play, such as familiarity with the brand. Learn more about estimating keyword difficulty here

Search intent 

Search intent is the reason behind the search. Usually, searchers either want to learn something, buy something, or find a specific website. 

Search intent matters for keyword optimization because Google tends to rank content that matches the dominating intent behind the query. 

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Your task here is to identify what searchers are after and decide whether you can offer that and whether it’s worth it for you. 

To illustrate, it could be tough for a “non e-commerce” website to break the mold for a query like “women’s shoes.” It’s product pages from top to bottom. 

Top-ranking pages with the same search intent
The entire first page for “women’s shoes” shows product pages.

We’ll talk about search intent more in the next step of this guide. 

Your expertise 

In Google Search, the messenger is at least as important as the message. 

Google expressed philosophy on that through E-A-T principles (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). E-A-T is known to have a significant impact on queries in the Your Money or Your Life domain (i.e., health, financial topics, safety, etc.).

Google further emphasized the role of the authority of the website (maybe even gave it more significance) in the recent “helpful content” core update:

Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?

Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?

Google wants to show quality content to its users. Knowing that something comes from a trusted source simply makes it easier for a search engine to recognize quality content. 

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So for example, a blog on health should ideally be written or at least reviewed by someone with formal medical training. Also, it should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. 

Health article reviewed by an expert

Sidenote.

If you’d like to learn more about finding, choosing, and prioritizing your keywords, we’ve got a full guide on that.

Step 2. Align with the search intent 

Let’s ask Google what kind of content searchers want to see. We call this analyzing the three Cs of search intent. 

Content type

Content type refers to the goal the searcher is after. The content type will usually be one of the following:

  • Blog post/article
  • Product page
  • Category page
  • Landing page

The task here is to take top-ranking pages for your keyword and look for the dominating type of content among them. The top three ranking pages and SERP features (People Also Ask box, featured snippet) will be most impactful here. Then match that with your content. 

For example, for “best all season car tires,” we see almost only articles (except for the #1 result). So if you were to compete for this keyword, your best chance to do so would be with an article too because that’s the dominating content type.

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SERP for "best all season car tires"
9/10 results are articles.

Content format 

Content format refers to how users seemingly prefer information served to them. The content type will usually be one of the following:

  • How-to” guide
  • Step-by-step tutorial
  • List post
  • Opinion piece
  • Review
  • Comparison
  • Product page (homepage or subpage)

For example, “home decor tips” is dominated by listicles; most of them have numbers in titles and/or the main content is structured in ordered lists. 

SERP for "home decor tips"

Analogically to the other Cs of search intent, the idea is to identify what content format dominates the SERPs and use it for your page. 

TIP

Note: SERPs are not always this obvious. Sometimes, Google ranks different types and formats of content. 

One reason for this may be that Google moves to serve search journeys rather than search queries. 

In SEO, this is called mixed or fractured search intent. See what you can do in such a situation: 

You may come across a chance to rank a different type of content from the dominating one. This usually happens in broad terms where people can look for different things. Indications of this can be found in:

  • Questions in the PAA box.
  • Presence of certain rich search results, such as the “Things to know.” 

There’s an interesting analysis of the “coffee” keyword by Kayle Larkin. I highly recommend it if you want to get a hint on how to spot these kinds of opportunities. A bet on that tactic, however, may be riskier.

Content angle 

Content angle is the unique selling point of a page. It should catch the attention of the searcher and indicate what is special about the page.

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To illustrate, consider the query “how to become rich.” Some angles for this query are:

  • Before 30
  • In a smart way
  • Fast 
  • According to experts
  • Best
  • From nothing 
  • In five years
SERP for query "how to become rich"

Makes sense, right? That’s why the content angle should be tightly matched with the topic. A topic may require the freshest view of said topic, while another may require a list of free online tools. SERPs are again the best place to look for that information.

For example, it won’t make sense to use “before 30” or “in five years” for a query like “how to peel a banana.” We can see on the SERPs that what seems to be valuable to users is learning how to do it the right way (i.e., like a monkey).

SERP for "how to peel a banana"

Step 3. Follow on-page SEO best practices 

Once we have picked our target keyword and identified the search intent for it, it’s time to write our content with SEO in mind. 

For this, we need the so-called on-page SEO. In other words, tried and tested things that you can do on the page itself to help Google and searchers better understand and digest your content. 

If you’re optimizing old content, it’s a good idea to go through the process with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Audit (also available for free in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools). It will help you catch all the missing tags, unoptimized images, and more.

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All issues from the Content report in Site Audit

Give searchers what they want 

You may have a completely unique opinion on your topic. You may want to approach it in an unconventional fashion. That’s all fine because Google wants unique content. But if you want your content to rank, you need to meet searchers’ expectations too. Google is quite clear about it

Provide an appropriate amount of content for your subject … . So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.

You can get a pretty good idea of what searchers want by looking at the topics covered by the top-ranking pages. The more commonalities between pages, the higher the probability that a given subtopic is important to the searchers.

You can automate this process using Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool. Simply enter the URLs of top-ranking pages and get the keywords that they rank for. The keywords will indicate subtopics that you should consider including in your content. 

Content Gap tool in Ahrefs
Step 1. Make sure to leave the last input blank.
Results from Content Gap tool
Step 2. Look at the keywords to spot topics and patterns.

You can then also adjust the “Intersect” settings to pick only the biggest commonalities. 

"Intersect" settings to filter Content Gap report results

This report also makes it easier to optimize existing content. You can add your page in the last field to see keywords that your content doesn’t rank for compared to your competitors. 

Content Gap tool, comparing to existing content

Recommendation

Sometimes, you can smell an “optimized” text from a mile through keywords shoehorned into every second sentence. This kind of quasi-optimization is something you should avoid, as it’s based on two SEO myths: LSI and TF-IDF keywords. 

Here’s the thing. You don’t need to tactically sprinkle closely related keywords (the idea behind LSI), nor do you need to repeat them a certain number of times (TF-IDF). 

But mentioning related keywords, phrases, and entities in your text can boost your SEO. It has nothing to do with gaming the system. Rather, it’s about understanding what type of information searchers may be looking for. The difference may sound subtle, so feel free to learn more here.

Make your content easy to digest 

Easy-to-digest content in the SEO world means these three things:

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  1. Writing in simple words, avoiding complex sentences – Of course, you can and probably should use technical terms when the topics require them. 
  2. Making content skimmable Two reasons: (1) Most people aren’t here for the whole thing—just specific info, and (2) people skim content to decide whether it’s worth their time.
  3. Using images They make content more comprehensive and break walls of text. 

Imagine Google serving results that most people can’t digest. If you were Google, that’s the kind of results you’d like to avoid. 

Learn more: Flesch Reading Ease: Does It Matter for SEO? (Data Study) 

Optimize page title 

Both searchers and Google use the title of the page to understand the context of the page. So you need to optimize the page title for both parties:

  • Make your target keyword part of the title – Just to be clear, Google is advanced enough to rank relevant pages that don’t use the search query in the title. But including the keyword in the title tag is your best bet here. 
  • Make the title informative yet attractive to the reader 
  • Not too short, not too long – Use a tool like SERPsim to check your titles before you publish. 

Learn more: How to Craft the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4-Step Process) 

Match the H1 tag with the title tag

The consensus among SEOs seems to be that your H1 tag should be consistent with the title tag. This means two things.

First, these tags can be slightly different. However, it’s best if the H1 also contains the target keyword. 

For example, a product page can have a title tag that describes the value proposition of the product, while the H1 tag can be just a heading for the content that follows below. 

Similar title and H1 shown by Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

But it’s perfectly fine if both the H1 and title tag are the same. This is a rule you may want to go with for blog posts. 

Write a compelling meta description

In case you’re wondering, what you put inside the meta description tag most probably won’t impact rankings. 

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But it’s still a good idea to give that little piece of content some thought because it may entice readers to choose your page among others on the SERP.

Here are a few tips on crafting your meta descriptions:

  • Think about what searchers expect from a page found on the #1 page of Google – This comes back to search intent. It helps if you check your meta description on a mobile device. It’s more prominent there, so you’ll instantly know if the meta is enticing and helpful.
  • Mind the length – Use something like SERPsim. 
  • Write in newspaper headlines – For instance, compare this “TireHeaven has a wide variety of tires and wheels in stock. We have all of the top brands of passenger and truck tires, along with lawn, trailer, and tire …” to “Tires and wheels for all vehicles. Top brands. Fast and free shipping to an installer near you.” 
  • Take cues from descriptions on search ads – Marketers actually spend a lot of time tweaking those. 
  • Have a unique meta description for each page

Learn more: How to Write the Perfect Meta Description 

Sidenote.

Google may still replace your title tag (study) and meta description (study) with something that, according to the system, fits the search query better. But writing your own title and meta is your best bet for displaying what you want and not what Google wants.

Use H2–H6 tags for subheadings

Here, the solution is straightforward: The best use you can make of tags H2–H6 is for subheadings. 

Subheadings are good for creating a skimmable hierarchy in a document. A good hierarchy should allow the reader to understand what they can find in the text just by skimming through the page. 

Create a user-friendly URL

Although John Mueller said not to worry about URLs, I think Google said it all with this in its SEO guide: 

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Quote from Google's SEO guide

Bad URLs are a slant against Google’s grand design of serving helpful results. 

URLs do appear in the search results, and some users may read them to make sure they’re clicking on legit pages. But since Google doesn’t always show the full URL on the SERPs, I guess this is not something to ponder too much about. Just a clear, simple, and human-readable structure is all you need. 

So do this:

/how-to-peel-a-banana

Instead of this:

/how-to-peel-a-banana-like-a-monkey-the-right-way-10-2022 

Optimize images (filenames and alt tags)

It isn’t just text that’s important for keyword optimization. Images help Google understand what a page is about too. 

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Makes sense if you think about it. If Google finds a lot of images about dogs on a page, it has a very good reason to think that the page is about dogs. 

Moreover, images can rank in Google Image Search. Additionally, your images may show up as previews in Search or in Google Discover

Google looks at a number of things when it comes to images. You can find the entire list here. In short: 

  • Use relevant images – It’s best if they’re original. 
  • Use descriptive, succinct filenames and alt tags – Avoid generic names, and don’t make them too long. Something like “house-on-a-hill.jpg” is better than “image1.jpg”.
  • Place your images close to relevant text 

Learn more: Alt Text for SEO: How to Optimize Your Images 

Link to relevant internal and external resources

When the content demands a link to some other page, don’t hold back. Both internal and external links help Google understand the context, and that’s a good thing for keyword optimization. They can also help establish E-A-T—just make sure you link to pages that you trust. 

Healthline linking to sources

But where you link to is not just about the context. Internal links can be used tactically to boost rankings because they are known to pass link equity. 

Learn more: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide

Optimize for featured snippets 

Featured snippets are bits of content that Google pulls from pages to answer search queries. 

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Featured snippet example

Basically, when Google thinks there is a short and sweet answer to the question, it tends to show it right on the SERPs without making people click on anything. 

Optimizing for featured snippets is basically about:

  1. Providing the answer to the main question early in the text. 
  2. Making the answer succinct.
  3. Structuring your content in an organized, clear way.
  4. Using easy-to-understand language (avoiding jargon too). 

If you plug in your target keyword in Google, you will see right away if there’s a featured snippet you can optimize for. But if you’re working with a bigger list of keywords, you may want to use a tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Simply enter all your keywords and set the “SERP features” filter to “Featured snippet.” You can do the same with your existing content and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

 "Featured snippet" filter in Ahrefs

Learn more: How to Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets 

Optimize for rich results 

Rich result is any type of visually enhanced search result with information pulled from relevant structured data. It likely doesn’t impact rankings. But it can make your page more eye-catching. 

Rich results example

Some content formats are eligible for special types of search results, such as this recipe carousel.

Rich results carousel

To make a page eligible for rich results, you need to add some simple code called schema markup. Each content format that supports rich results has its own set of markup properties. 

Here’s the process. You should: 

  1. Check available properties for your content in Google’s documentation.
  2. Deploy the code. Use a markup generator or write it yourself.
  3. Test the code using this Rich Results Test tool.
  4. Use the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console to see if the site looks OK. If there are no issues, Google recommends using the request indexing tool to let it know about changes.

Final thoughts 

Keep in mind that the aim of keyword optimization is not to game the system in some cyberpunk fashion. The goal is to help Google and searchers find and understand your content.

So once you’re done with all the points from this guide, it’s a good idea to circle back and take this self-assessment test to make sure your content is “helpful, reliable and people-first.”

Once your content is live, here are two things you can do next:

  1. Build links to your content to boost rankings. Check our guide to link building to start off on the right foot. 
  2. Monitor your ranking progress to check if your tactics are working or when to update the content. But don’t do it manually on Google; rather, use a rank tracker. Here’s why.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter

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Top Priorities, Challenges, And Opportunities

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Top Priorities, Challenges, And Opportunities

The world of search has seen massive change recently. Whether you’re still in the planning stages for this year or underway with your 2024 strategy, you need to know the new SEO trends to stay ahead of seismic search industry shifts.

It’s time to chart a course for SEO success in this changing landscape.

Watch this on-demand webinar as we explore exclusive survey data from today’s top SEO professionals and digital marketers to inform your strategy this year. You’ll also learn how to navigate SEO in the era of AI, and how to gain an advantage with these new tools.

You’ll hear:

  • The top SEO priorities and challenges for 2024.
  • The role of AI in SEO – how to get ahead of the anticipated disruption of SGE and AI overall, plus SGE-specific SEO priorities.
  • Winning SEO resourcing strategies and reporting insights to fuel success.

With Shannon Vize and Ryan Maloney, we’ll take a deep dive into the top trends, priorities, and challenges shaping the future of SEO.

Discover timely insights and unlock new SEO growth potential in 2024.

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View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

10 Successful Ways To Improve Your SERP Rankings [With Ahrefs]

Reserve your spot and discover 10 quick and easy SEO wins to boost your site’s rankings.

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E-E-A-T’s Google Ranking Influence Decoded

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E-E-A-T's Google Ranking Influence Decoded

The idea that something is not a ranking factor that nevertheless plays a role in ranking websites seems to be logically irreconcilable. Despite seeming like a paradox that cancels itself out, SearchLiaison recently tweeted some comments that go a long way to understanding how to think about E-E-A-T and apply it to SEO.

What A Googler Said About E-E-A-T

Marie Haynes published a video excerpt on YouTube from an event at which a Googler spoke, essentially doubling down on the importance of E-A-T.

This is what he said:

“You know this hasn’t always been there in Google and it’s something that we developed about ten to twelve or thirteen years ago. And it really is there to make sure that along the lines of what we talked about earlier is that it really is there to ensure that the content that people consume is going to be… it’s not going to be harmful and it’s going to be useful to the user. These are principles that we live by every single day.

And E-A-T, that template of how we rate an individual site based off of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, we do it to every single query and every single result. So it’s actually very pervasive throughout everything that we do .

I will say that the YMYL queries, the Your Money or Your Life Queries, such as you know when I’m looking for a mortgage or when I’m looking for the local ER,  those we have a particular eye on and we pay a bit more attention to those queries because clearly they’re some of the most important decisions that people can make.

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So I would say that E-A-T has a bit more of an impact there but again, I will say that E-A-T applies to everything, every single query that we actually look at.”

How can something be a part of every single search query and not be a ranking factor, right?

Background, Experience & Expertise In Google Circa 2012

Something to consider is that in 2012 Google’s senior engineer at the time, Matt Cutts, said that experience and expertise brings a measure of quality to content and makes it worthy of ranking.

Matt Cutts’ remarks on experience and expertise were made in an interview with Eric Enge.

Discussing whether the website of a hypothetical person named “Jane” deserves to rank with articles that are original variations of what’s already in the SERPs.

Matt Cutts observed:

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“While they’re not duplicates they bring nothing new to the table.

Google would seek to detect that there is no real differentiation between these results and show only one of them so we could offer users different types of sites in the other search results.

They need to ask themselves what really is their value add? …they need to figure out what… makes them special.

…if Jane is just churning out 500 words about a topic where she doesn’t have any background, experience or expertise, a searcher might not be as interested in her opinion.”

Matt then cites the example of Pulitzer Prize-Winning movie reviewer Roger Ebert as a person with the background, experience and expertise that makes his opinion valuable to readers and the content worthy of ranking.

Matt didn’t say that a webpage author’s background, experience and expertise were ranking factors. But he did say that these are the kinds of things that can differentiate one webpage from another and align it to what Google wants to rank.

He specifically said that Google’s algorithm detects if there is something different about it that makes it stand out. That was in 2012 but not much has changed because Google’s John Mueller says the same thing.

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For example, in 2020 John Mueller said that differentiation and being compelling is important for getting Google to notice and rank a webpage.

“So with that in mind, if you’re focused on kind of this small amount of content that is the same as everyone else then I would try to find ways to significantly differentiate yourselves to really make it clear that what you have on your website is significantly different than all of those other millions of ringtone websites that have kind of the same content.

…And that’s the same recommendation I would have for any kind of website that offers essentially the same thing as lots of other web sites do.

You really need to make sure that what you’re providing is unique and compelling and high quality so that our systems and users in general will say, I want to go to this particular website because they offer me something that is unique on the web and I don’t just want to go to any random other website.”

In 2021, in regard to getting Google to index a webpage, Mueller also said:

“Is it something the web has been waiting for? Or is it just another red widget?”

This thing about being compelling and different than other sites, it’s something that’s been a part of Google’s algorithm awhile, just like the Googler in the video said, just like Matt Cutts said and exactly like what Mueller has said as well.

Are they talking about signals?

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E-EA-T Algorithm Signals

We know there’s something in the algorithm that relates to someone’s expertise and background that Google’s looking for. The table is set and we can dig into the next step of what it all means.

A while back back I remember reading something that Marie Haynes said about E-A-T, she called it a framework. And I thought, now that’s an interesting thing she just did, she’s conceptualizing E-A-T.

When SEOs discussed E-A-T it was always in the context of what to do in order to demonstrate E-A-T. So they looked at the Quality Raters Guide for guidance, which kind of makes sense since it’s a guide, right?

But what I’m proposing is that the answer isn’t really in the guidelines or anything that the quality raters are looking for.

The best way to explain it is to ask you to think about the biggest part of Google’s algorithm, relevance.

What’s relevance? Is it something you have to do? It used to be about keywords and that’s easy for SEOs to understand. But it’s not about keywords anymore because Google’s algorithm has natural language understanding (NLU). NLU is what enables machines to understand language in the way that it’s actually spoken (natural language).

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So, relevance is just something that’s related or connected to something else. So, if I ask, how do I satiate my thirst? The answer can be water, because water quenches the thirst.

How is a site relevant to the search query: “how do I satiate my thirst?”

An SEO would answer the problem of relevance by saying that the webpage has to have the keywords that match the search query, which would be the words “satiate” and “thirst.”

The next step the SEO would take is to extract the related entities for “satiate” and “thirst” because every SEO “knows” they need to do entity research to understand how to make a webpage that answers the search query, “How do I satiate my thirst?”

Hypothetical Related entities:

  • Thirst: Water, dehydration, drink,
  • Satiate: Food, satisfaction, quench, fulfillment, appease

Now that the SEO has their entities and their keywords they put it all together and write a 600 word essay that uses all their keywords and entities so that their webpage is relevant for the search query, “How do I satiate my thirst?”

I think we can stop now and see how silly that is, right? If someone asked you, “How do I satiate my thirst?” You’d answer, “With water” or “a cold refreshing beer” because that’s what it means to be relevant.

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Relevance is just a concept. It doesn’t have anything to do with entities or keywords in today’s search algorithms because the machine is understanding search queries as natural language, even more so with AI search engines.

Similarly, E-E-A-T is also just a concept. It doesn’t have anything to do with author bios, LinkedIn profiles, it doesn’t have anything at all to do with making your content say that you handled the product that’s being reviewed.

Here’s what SearchLiaison recently said about an E-E-A-T, SEO and Ranking:

“….just making a claim and talking about a ‘rigorous testing process’ and following an ‘E-E-A-T checklist’ doesn’t guarantee a top ranking or somehow automatically cause a page to do better.”

Here’s the part where SearchLiaison ties a bow around the gift of E-E-A-T knowledge:

“We talk about E-E-A-T because it’s a concept that aligns with how we try to rank good content.”

E-E-A-T Can’t Be Itemized On A Checklist

Remember how we established that relevance is a concept and not a bunch of keywords and entities? Relevance is just answering the question.

E-E-A-T is the same thing. It’s not something that you do. It’s closer to something that you are.

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SearchLiaison elaborated:

“…our automated systems don’t look at a page and see a claim like “I tested this!” and think it’s better just because of that. Rather, the things we talk about with E-E-A-T are related to what people find useful in content. Doing things generally for people is what our automated systems seek to reward, using different signals.”

A Better Understanding Of E-E-A-T

I think it’s clear now how E-E-A-T isn’t something that’s added to a webpage or is something that is demonstrated on the webpage. It’s a concept, just like relevance.

A good way to think o fit is if someone asks you a question about your family and you answer it. Most people are pretty expert and experienced enough to answer that question. That’s what E-E-A-T is and how it should be treated when publishing content, regardless if it’s YMYL content or a product review, the expertise is just like answering a question about your family, it’s just a concept.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi

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Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result

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Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result

Google announced a new carousel rich result that can be used for local businesses, products, and events which will show a scrolling horizontal carousel displaying all of the items in the list. It’s very flexible and can even be used to create a top things to do in a city list that combines hotels, restaurants, and events. This new feature is in beta, which means it’s being tested.

The new carousel rich result is for displaying lists in a carousel format. According to the announcement the rich results is limited to the following types:

LocalBusiness and its subtypes, for example:
– Restaurant
– Hotel
– VacationRental
– Product
– Event

An example of subtypes is Lodgings, which is a subset of LocalBusiness.

Here is the Schema.org hierarchical structure that shows the LodgingBusiness type as being a subset of the LocalBusiness type.

  • Thing > Organization > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness
  • Thing > Place > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness

ItemList Structured Data

The carousel displays “tiles” that contain information from the webpage that’s about the price, ratings and images. The order of what’s in the ItemList structured data is the order that they will be displayed in the carousel.

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Publishers must use the ItemList structured data in order to become eligible for the new rich result

All information in the ItemList structured data must be on the webpage. Just like any other structured data, you can’t stuff the structured data with information that is not visible on the webpage itself.

There are two important rules when using this structured data:

  1. 1. The ItemList type must be the top level container for the structured data.
  2. 2. All the URLs of in the list must point to different webpages on the same domain.

The part about the ItemList being the top level container means that the structured data cannot be merged together with another structured data where the top-level container is something other than ItemList.

For example, the structured data must begin like this:

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1,

A useful quality of this new carousel rich result is that publishers can mix and match the different entities as long as they’re within the eligible structured data types.

Eligible Structured Data Types

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  • LocalBusiness and its subtypes
  • Product
  • Event

Google’s announcement explains how to mix and match the different structured data types:

“You can mix and match different types of entities (for example, hotels, restaurants), if needed for your scenario. For example, if you have a page that has both local events and local businesses.”

Here is an example of a ListItem structured data that can be used in a webpage about Things To Do In Paris.

The following structured data is for two events and a local business (the Eiffel Tower):

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@type": "Event", "name": "Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise", "image": [ "https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg" ], "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "price": 45.00, "priceCurrency": "EUR" }, "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.2, "reviewCount": 690 }, "url": "https://www.example.com/event-location1" } }, { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 2, "item": { "@type": "LocalBusiness", "name": "Notre-Dame Cathedral", "image": [ "https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg" ], "priceRange": "$", "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.8, "reviewCount": 4220 }, "url": "https://www.example.com/localbusiness-location" } }, { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 3, "item": { "@type": "Event", "name": "Eiffel Tower With Host Summit Tour", "image": [ "https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg", "https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg" ], "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "price": 59.00, "priceCurrency": "EUR" }, "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.9, "reviewCount": 652 }, "url": "https://www.example.com/event-location2" } } ] } </script>

Be As Specific As Possible

Google’s guidelines recommends being as specific as possible but that if there isn’t a structured data type that closely matches with the type of business then it’s okay to use the more generic LocalBusiness structured data type.

“Depending on your scenario, you may choose the best type to use. For example, if you have a list of hotels and vacation rentals on your page, use both Hotel and VacationRental types. While it’s ideal to use the type that’s closest to your scenario, you can choose to use a more generic type (for example, LocalBusiness).”

Can Be Used For Products

A super interesting use case for this structured data is for displaying a list of products in a carousel rich result.

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The structured data for that begins as a ItemList structured data type like this:

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@type": "Product",

The structured data can list images, ratings, reviewCount, and currency just like any other product listing, but doing it like this will make the webpage eligible for the carousel rich results.

Google has a list of recommended recommended properties that can be used with the Products version, such as offers, offers.highPrice, and offers.lowPrice.

Good For Local Businesses and Merchants

This new structured data is a good opportunity for local businesses and publishers that list events, restaurants and lodgings to get in on a new kind of rich result.

Using this structured data doesn’t guarantee that it will display as a rich result, it only makes it eligible for it.

This new feature is in beta, meaning that it’s a test.

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Read the new developer page for this new rich result type:

Structured data carousels (beta)

Featured Image by Shutterstock/RYO Alexandre

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