JAMstack SEO Guide: Content SEO

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JAMstack SEO Guide: Content SEO

In part one we’ve discussed technical SEO now it is time to turn to content SEO and on-page and off-page optimization.

Nebojsa Radakovic

By Nebojsa Radakovic
September 17, 2019

Welcome back! In the previous post, I’ve talked about technical SEO and how it complements your content on your road to rank better.

See what I did there?

When you have a huge post like this one, it is better to break it into a few pages. First of all, even fast loading JAMstack pages like ours would load slower with complete content on them. Secondly, the fact you’ve clicked through page #1 gives a signal to Google that you liked the content on the page. Thirdly, with more pages, you can rank for more keywords. Finally, it raises dwell time on your pages and also influences bounce rate and a number of average page sessions (all of which are content quality and ranking signals).

The JAMstack part kind of ends here. However, being that we all are into web development it might be wise for you to read the content part as well where I cover the basics of content SEO. In case you want to understand SEO on a much deeper level, I strongly advise you to read the whole guide (and DOWNLOAD this guide as .pdf with BONUS material. I’ll explain this in a minute).

Broadly, content-related SEO tasks fall under one of these two segments:

  1. the on-page optimization which includes keyword research, the content itself, keyword placement, meta tags, content structure, H tags, content pruning, etc.
  2. and off-page optimization which includes domain authority, backlinks, shares, etc.

Now, there’s no shortage of great posts with in-depth explanations of these two segments (just look at the search results or our .pdf).

However, I’d like to approach the content SEO in a slightly different way than most guides do. I’d like to propose a content SEO follow approach rather than on-page/off-page optimization tips and tricks (check out the image below) which, I believe, is a much better way of explaining things to a novice and expert alike public.

content seo flow

Keyword Research

While your service, product or content are the core of your business, the right keywords that your audience is searching for are the cornerstone of your content and your overall digital marketing strategy.

Basically, keyword research is there to help you find strategic keywords you ought to target with your website’s content. Or so the most guide and articles on that topic say.

Don’t get me wrong here, that’s true to a certain extent. Let me rephrase the above sentence:

keyword research is there to help you find strategic keywords you ought to target with your website’s content and that are in line with your website’s ability to rank for them.

That’s all fine and dandy but where do you start? And how do you know which keywords you should target?

See what I did here?

I’ve made a DOWNLOADABLE pdf with complete guide + EXAMPLE of content SEO follow I used for this guide and links to TOOLS and RESOURCES for further reading. You can either read the rest then check the example or jump to the .pdf file right now.

DOWNLOAD JAMSTACK SEO GUIDE .PDF 📄 HERE

Before you start, keep in mind that your keyword research depends on your website ( authority, are you a trusted resource, number of pages, etc.), your goals (are you aiming at branding, exposure, traffic or gathering leads and sales?), your competition (and their authority, etc.), and finally the industry you are in. In that sense so does keywords you can rank for.

Start by making a list of important, relevant keywords and topics based on what you know about your business and/or goals you are trying to achieve. If you already know them, check the competition and see what they have been doing in that regard. If not, find them through the keywords you’ve chosen.

Your best friends at this point are Google and a couple of free and paid keyword discovery tools:

  • Google search results
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google auto‐suggest
  • “similar searches” in Google
  • Free tools like Ubersuggest and Answer the Public
  • One of the paid tools like Ahrefs, Moz or SEMrush

Basically, you’ll use all of them to tap into what’s already going on in your industry and get a clear picture of what your target audience is searching for, how they conduct search, which keywords are they using, how popular are the keywords, what is the search volume for them, general intent shown in search results for the keywords, and what will it take to actually rank for those keywords.

You’ll use them to understand your competition as well, analyze good and bad sides in their keyword and backlink profiles and strategies. Keep in mind that your business competitors and your content competitors are not always the same. The answer is in the search results.

With that being said, if you are using one of the paid tools you’ll notice a metric often labeled as keyword difficulty (KD), which aims at providing you with a rough sense of difficulty to rank for a specific keyword. First, keep in mind that KD value differs from tool to tool (each tool has a different way of measuring it). Second, do not rely completely on KD. Always check search results manually to judge/evaluate real‐world keyword difficulty and search intent before targeting that keyword.

At the end of the day, proper keyword research should help you find relevant and worthwhile keywords that will not only help you boost your SEO efforts but also convert relevant traffic into revenue. After all, there is no point in driving a lot of traffic if you can’t convert it.

Most guides point that you should look for high‐volume, low‐competition keywords. By all means, judge the business value of the keywords with these two ‘filters’ and keep in mind that those low competition keywords are not just easier to rank for but once you rank for them they will provide a foundation and authority that will help you go after those more difficult, volume-rich keywords.

Remember, good keyword research does not mean you can get away with crappy websites and content.

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Search intent and domain/page authority

Search intent and domain/page authority

Looking at the subtitle I bet you’re thinking - odd coupling, right? The first one is a genuine ranking factor while the other is a provisional number used by top SEO tools. Before you start firing hear me out.

Search intent

Google is always in pursuit of answering a searcher’s query with the most relevant results. That means being able to understand searcher’s intent behind a search query is their ultimate goal.

For you, it means that if you want to rank in Google’s search results in 2019 understanding and creating content with search intent in mind is crucial. It’s the _intent _behind the query/keyword that matters, and how well your content solves it.

There are four types of search intent (take the term types less specific and less concrete than the term in the sentence implies): Informational, Navigational, Transactional, and Commercial investigation.

Informational: In case you are asking a specific question in your search query or want to know more about a certain topic, you are most likely expressing informational intent. Questions like ‘who is Brad Pitt?’ or ‘what is JAMstack?’ and direction queries like ‘airport directions’ and topic/keyword queries like ‘soccer’ or ‘university education’ fall under this type.

Navigational: When you are searching for a certain website, for example, ‘Bejamas’ or ‘Gmail sign in’ etc. you are expressing navigational intent.

Transactional: People who have the intention to make a purchase are searching with transactional intent. Queries like ‘iPhone 10 price’ and ‘Namecheap coupon’ and ‘buy secrid Miniwallet’ all fall under this category.

Commercial investigation: Those of you who have the intention to buy something soon, but prefer to get informed before the purchase, you are expressing commercial investigation intent. So, queries like ‘iPhone vs Android’ and ‘iPhone review’ and ‘best wallets’ and ‘record shop near me’ and ‘cheap hotels in London’ all belong here.

Domain/page authority

Domain authority/domain rating is a metric that aims at helping you understand the strength of a website. While Google might or might not use something similar, these metrics are tool defined so treat them as such. What I mean by this is that you should use domain authority, and other similar metrics (such as KD), as an indicator of what might be rather than something that is.

Most tools offer authority metrics in an ‘overall’ sense which, in my opinion, brings even more uncertainty to an already vague metric. I believe adding an industry aspect to it, making it into ‘authority in given industry/topics’ metric rather than overall one would be of a better use for SEOs.

Finally, establishing a site as an authority on search engines, or for ‘authority’ metrics for that matter, takes time and careful planning (keyword research, content quality/quantity, and backlinks). Benefits are significant. For example, domains with high ‘authority’ metrics are usually trusted resources which enables them to publish content and rank much faster than the rest.

Establishing your site and yourself (will talk about it a bit later) as an authority, and earning links from existing authoritative sites, can influence your ranking immensely.

The two together

So, why the two deserve to be taken into consideration together? The answer is in the search results.

See what I did there?

Check out what I did for this guide (keep in mind the same principle can be applied to your website as a whole or for individual pages).

DOWNLOAD JAMSTACK SEO GUIDE .PDF 📄 HERE
With EXAMPLE of content, SEO follow I used for this guide and links to TOOLS and RESOURCES for further reading.

Or take a look at awesome post Optimizing for searcher intent in 7 visuals by Rand Fishkin from Moz.

Content

E A T

Setting aside the quality of your writing, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when crafting content. As explained above focus your content on subject/keyword intent. Then focus on making relevant and genuinely helpful content. That, among many things, means you do not write for SEO but help writing fit into an SEO ‘mold’.

Let’s take the length of content as an example. A ‘guide’ in general implies a lengthy piece, so the keyword ‘Angry Birds guide’ requires much more content than the keyword ‘Angry Birds cheats’. Basically, don’t think about the length of the content in absolute terms. Instead, think about what is written and how resourceful it is.

While running a keyword research take cues about the content showing in search results and scan top‐ranking pages. This will help you figure out what type of content is showing in search results (blog post, product page, category page, video only page, long/short-form content, etc.).

Pay attention to E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). Ever since Google’s ‘Quality Raters Guidelines’ leaked a couple of years ago (there is a link to it in .pdf file of this guide), we are pretty much aware of what Google suggests to its quality raters what to look for in quality content.

It should be expertly written (or written by an expert in the field), authoritative (should bring real benefits to the subject), and trustworthy (is coming from a trustworthy site which is backed by overall site quality and Google acceptance). Basically, with the content, you are influencing your personal and your website’s/businesses EAT.

Make damn sure your content is well-written and organized, provide real value to the readers, link out to relevant content, and backed out by top-notch tech SEO (did anybody say JAMstack?).

Finally, if search results allow it (have it), give your audience different ways to engage with your content (Text, Video, Audio) and be sure to incorporate clear CTAs to the next stage of your funnel because for most businesses gathering traffic via SEO is just a first step. After that, you need to find a way to make use of that traffic dollar vise.

On-page SEO tips

If you read this guide thoroughly you’ve most certainly noticed See what I did there? parts. This whole guide is made as an SEO case study. As such, on-page SEO tips are shared across this guide.

content backlinks

While this might be my least favorite part of SEO it is almost equally important as the quality of your content. Like other chapters in this guide, this one too deserves a post on its own (check the resources for links).

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that with the right link building strategy your website will climb up the results to #1. Backlinks are only one piece of the puzzle, just as the quality of your content is another. On top of it, the quality of your content helps your overall link building strategy.

Quality of a link depends on a couple of things:

  • domain industry affiliation and authority - for example, for this guide it is not the same if I have a link from searchenginejournal.com or foodmatters.com. While both are valuable, the first one brings on the weight of being an industry known and trustworthy source (remember ETA?). As such, it signals Google what they link/share is of value to the industry they are known in.
  • anchor text of a link - it is desirable to have many different anchors in your backlinks portfolio, but you still get the most out of links that link to you with your desired keyword or a phrase.
  • and, oddly enough, content quality and link place - obviously, being linked within an awesome piece of content that is in your industry is more valuable than being linked in a mediocre one. As for link placement, links that show up higher in the main content hold more value.

See what I did there?

In the example part, you can see how I approached backlinks outreach for this guide. You can either read the rest then check the example or link building for this guide.

DOWNLOAD JAMSTACK SEO GUIDE .PDF 📄 HERE
With EXAMPLE of content, SEO follow I used for this guide and links to TOOLS and RESOURCES for further reading.

Now that we know what a quality link is how do you get one, or a couple of thousands?

There are a couple of ways to look for backlinks and I’ll mention just a few here:

  • check the search results for your targeted keywords and those similar, or in connection with them, and reach out to the websites that rank for them.
  • use one of the paid SEO tools to check competitors’ backlink portfolio and see if you can grab a spot on pages that link to them.
  • find broken links or unlinked brand mentions going to resources or products you mention. Help the page with the broken link and ask for a backlink.
  • find your industry round-up posts or websites that are accepting guest posts.

There are a plethora of options when it comes to link building. Social network links, however, are not one of them as their backlink SEO value is pretty low. They matter more on the user behavior side and influence signals like dwell time, bounce rate, click depth, etc.

How to reach out?

We know what a quality link is and where to find them so how do we reach out? Well, there is no universal trick or a strategy you can use that works all the time. I’ve found that having a personal spin on proven tactics worked the best whether you reach out via email or Linkedin.

Avoid templates and personalize your approach. Do research on who to reach out to and convey a message appropriately. But here lies the big problem of link building and that is time/money availability. You see, doing proper research and personalization takes time but even with all the effort that you’ve put into it, you can still end up empty-handed.

Some would argue there are alternatives to that. Like, focus on your content quality. Or focus on building relationships first, either via Linkedin or Twitter. But that’s a story for an entirely different post.

The end or rather the beginning

The best SEO strategy implies you’ve taken into account all the tech aspects and building content in that sweet spot between what your customers need and want, and what your product/service provides. However, fail to give searchers what they want ie. satisfy searcher’s intent, and your chances of ranking high are close to none.

The goal of this guide is to introduce JAMstackers 👨‍💻 to the SEO and bring JAMstack benefits under the spotlight of the SEO community as well.

DOWNLOAD JAMSTACK SEO GUIDE .PDF 📄 HERE
With EXAMPLE of content, SEO follow I used for this guide and links to TOOLS and RESOURCES for further reading.

Finally, I want to thank Thom Krupa (CTO at Bejamas), Kevin Indig (VP SEO & Content @ G2 and Tech bound newsletter author) and Nick LeRoy (SEO consultant and author of the #SEOFORLUNCH newsletter) for their valuable and sometimes brutally honest feedback (sorry I did not listen).

If you haven’t done it yet, now would be a perfect time to check out my content SEO flow case-study for this guide. The link is above.

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About author

Nebojsa Radakovic

Nebojsa Radakovic

SEO wiz turned JAMstack n00b. A modern-day jack of all trades with 20 years of digital marketing experience.

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