Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has come a long way since the time that search engines were not able to read all the content or track user behavior on a website.

In the last 7 years, Google introduced a few changes in the way its algorithm handled searches.  The focus on mobile friendliness and the blocking of black hat backlinks are but two.  But in the last few years Google invested heavily into understanding user search behavior.

People searches changed and so Google adapted to it.

In the past, a user search would look something like this:  “Good Italian restaurant in Sandton Johannesburg”.

These days, the same search may look like this: “Italian lunch” or “I am hungry” and, believe it or not, with the new way of searches and the knowledge that Google has about you gives  much better search results.  Why? Because Google knows if you are searching on a mobile device or PC, your location, the restaurants that you visited in the last few months and maybe your preference, as well as how much traffic is in the area where you might be driving, the time of day in the time zone that you are searching from, just to name a few.

This new way of searching and the knowledge that Google has about its users opens a whole new ball game in the SEO arena.  A ‘keyword’ is still important, but even more important is getting Google to display your webpage in its quick answer box.

Laser focus on answering ONE question at a time is the key.  Moving toward clustering content into related topics is the buzz word.  Finding the holes in a topic on your website and writing content to plug them.

Topic relevance is of major importance and needs a lot of attention.  Let’s start thinking on all the questions that a Google searcher might have on the topic. Answering that on our website is the SEO of TODAY.

Another buzz word starting to appear is pillar content.  It is basically a page with foundation content that is ungated; in other words, open to all searches.  The cluster content related to the pillar topic surrounds it.

The main objective in this approach is building authority on a topic out there so that Google will send you the searches related to the topic.

Link building is still important; but even more important are internal links that are preferable between pillar content and its cluster content.

All this said, the next time you have a meeting with your SEO company, and 80% of the conversation does not revolve around content and some of the strategies in this blog, fire them or have an irrelevant website in 2 years.

(excerpts from a Hubspot training session)