Topics are the new Keywords

$100M SEO for Startups Course

Written by Jan-Oliver Seidenfuss

If you want to rank content in 2024 you have to understand the difference between keywords and topics.

But don't fear - you've come to the right place!

Here is what you'll learn

If you want to rank content in 2024 you have to understand the difference between keywords and topics.

But don't fear - you've come to the right place!

Here is what you'll learn

If you want to rank content in 2024 you have to understand the difference between keywords and topics.

But don't fear - you've come to the right place!

Here is what you'll learn

About this Course

Course Chapters
Course Chapters

This is chapter 2 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 2 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 2 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

What are Keywords

Every search query in Google is by definition a keyword.

And every keyword has an intent - a reason to use the search engine.

Googles job is to figure out what content fulfils the intent best.

Not an easy task!

While nobody knows exactly how Google ranks pages, keywords are known to play an important role.

They help Google to understand what your page is about.

Here is what Google says about keywords on their “How Search Works” page:

Thus, to make sure Google ranks the content for the right queries, people optimise their page by putting important keywords into e.g. H1, meta title, meta description.

Places that have the highest relevancy.

We’ll learn more about how to optimise a page depending on the content type in the page type specific chapters (Block 4 & 5).

But when optimising our page, how do we know which keywords to focus on? How do we know what people are actually searching for and how often?

This information is crucial. You don’t want to optimise your page around keywords nobody is searching for, right?

That’s where keyword research tools come into play.

These tools tell you exactly how many people search for specific keywords per month - called search volume. And even give you suggestions for potential other keywords.

We'll learn how to use them when setting up our free SEO toolchain. For now just know that keyword research tools help us understand essential metrics like search volume and give us new keywords ideas.

The most popular keyword research tools are Ahrefs & Semrush. I am sure you've heard of them.

Every search query in Google is by definition a keyword.

And every keyword has an intent - a reason to use the search engine.

Googles job is to figure out what content fulfils the intent best.

Not an easy task!

While nobody knows exactly how Google ranks pages, keywords are known to play an important role.

They help Google to understand what your page is about.

Here is what Google says about keywords on their “How Search Works” page:

Thus, to make sure Google ranks the content for the right queries, people optimise their page by putting important keywords into e.g. H1, meta title, meta description.

Places that have the highest relevancy.

We’ll learn more about how to optimise a page depending on the content type in the page type specific chapters (Block 4 & 5).

But when optimising our page, how do we know which keywords to focus on? How do we know what people are actually searching for and how often?

This information is crucial. You don’t want to optimise your page around keywords nobody is searching for, right?

That’s where keyword research tools come into play.

These tools tell you exactly how many people search for specific keywords per month - called search volume. And even give you suggestions for potential other keywords.

We'll learn how to use them when setting up our free SEO toolchain. For now just know that keyword research tools help us understand essential metrics like search volume and give us new keywords ideas.

The most popular keyword research tools are Ahrefs & Semrush. I am sure you've heard of them.

Every search query in Google is by definition a keyword.

And every keyword has an intent - a reason to use the search engine.

Googles job is to figure out what content fulfils the intent best.

Not an easy task!

While nobody knows exactly how Google ranks pages, keywords are known to play an important role.

They help Google to understand what your page is about.

Here is what Google says about keywords on their “How Search Works” page:

Thus, to make sure Google ranks the content for the right queries, people optimise their page by putting important keywords into e.g. H1, meta title, meta description.

Places that have the highest relevancy.

We’ll learn more about how to optimise a page depending on the content type in the page type specific chapters (Block 4 & 5).

But when optimising our page, how do we know which keywords to focus on? How do we know what people are actually searching for and how often?

This information is crucial. You don’t want to optimise your page around keywords nobody is searching for, right?

That’s where keyword research tools come into play.

These tools tell you exactly how many people search for specific keywords per month - called search volume. And even give you suggestions for potential other keywords.

We'll learn how to use them when setting up our free SEO toolchain. For now just know that keyword research tools help us understand essential metrics like search volume and give us new keywords ideas.

The most popular keyword research tools are Ahrefs & Semrush. I am sure you've heard of them.

Every Keyword has an Intent

An interesting thing when using keyword research tools is that you realise how many different ways there are to search for the same thing.

Take Flappie as an example.

People are searching for “cat door with prey detection”, “cat flap with mouse detection” or “ai cat flap” but are all looking for the same thing.

They are looking for products like Flappie.

All of the keywords have the same intent.

We’ve also discussed that Google has one job: Show the most useful content for search queries to the user.

Useful meaning, content that fulfils intent.

Now let’s apply some logic. Are you ready? Brain cells in maximum position?

If people searching for “cat flap with mouse detection” and “ai cat flap” have the same intent & Google shows the content that fulfils the user intent, Google should shows similar results for both keywords, right?

The answer is yes! This is the case today. But it used to be different.

A few years back, Google didn’t have the technology to understand the intent of a search query. They heavily relied on exact match keywords in the pages content.

Meaning, if you searched for “cat flap with prey recognition” but your page was optimised for “cat flap with prey detection”, you didn’t show up.

In short, if a page was optimised for a keyword, it ranked when searching for this specific keyword. If not optimised, it didn’t rank.

The outcome back then were hundreds of pages with basically the same content but optimised for slight variations of a keyword: “buy cool tennis shoes”, “buy tennis shoes”, “buy good tennis shoes”, etc.

All had their own pages. Their own urls.

Today, thanks to their introduction of e.g. BERT in 2019, the same page ranks for all of these keywords.

So what can we conclude? What’s the learning here?

Google knows when two keywords have the same intent.

They found out by constantly A/B testing pages. If people are satisfied with the same pages, the keywords have the same intent.

Meaning the same urls show up in the top 10 search results for the two different keywords.

But there's a problem. We can’t say from just looking at the keywords if people want the same thing. Luckily however, we can reverse engineer the intent by checking the top 10 urls on Google.

If the urls for two search queries overlap, the keywords have the same intent. If not, then different intent.

Easy.

We'll make this "overlapping thingy" clear in a second but let's first introduce topics.

An interesting thing when using keyword research tools is that you realise how many different ways there are to search for the same thing.

Take Flappie as an example.

People are searching for “cat door with prey detection”, “cat flap with mouse detection” or “ai cat flap” but are all looking for the same thing.

They are looking for products like Flappie.

All of the keywords have the same intent.

We’ve also discussed that Google has one job: Show the most useful content for search queries to the user.

Useful meaning, content that fulfils intent.

Now let’s apply some logic. Are you ready? Brain cells in maximum position?

If people searching for “cat flap with mouse detection” and “ai cat flap” have the same intent & Google shows the content that fulfils the user intent, Google should shows similar results for both keywords, right?

The answer is yes! This is the case today. But it used to be different.

A few years back, Google didn’t have the technology to understand the intent of a search query. They heavily relied on exact match keywords in the pages content.

Meaning, if you searched for “cat flap with prey recognition” but your page was optimised for “cat flap with prey detection”, you didn’t show up.

In short, if a page was optimised for a keyword, it ranked when searching for this specific keyword. If not optimised, it didn’t rank.

The outcome back then were hundreds of pages with basically the same content but optimised for slight variations of a keyword: “buy cool tennis shoes”, “buy tennis shoes”, “buy good tennis shoes”, etc.

All had their own pages. Their own urls.

Today, thanks to their introduction of e.g. BERT in 2019, the same page ranks for all of these keywords.

So what can we conclude? What’s the learning here?

Google knows when two keywords have the same intent.

They found out by constantly A/B testing pages. If people are satisfied with the same pages, the keywords have the same intent.

Meaning the same urls show up in the top 10 search results for the two different keywords.

But there's a problem. We can’t say from just looking at the keywords if people want the same thing. Luckily however, we can reverse engineer the intent by checking the top 10 urls on Google.

If the urls for two search queries overlap, the keywords have the same intent. If not, then different intent.

Easy.

We'll make this "overlapping thingy" clear in a second but let's first introduce topics.

An interesting thing when using keyword research tools is that you realise how many different ways there are to search for the same thing.

Take Flappie as an example.

People are searching for “cat door with prey detection”, “cat flap with mouse detection” or “ai cat flap” but are all looking for the same thing.

They are looking for products like Flappie.

All of the keywords have the same intent.

We’ve also discussed that Google has one job: Show the most useful content for search queries to the user.

Useful meaning, content that fulfils intent.

Now let’s apply some logic. Are you ready? Brain cells in maximum position?

If people searching for “cat flap with mouse detection” and “ai cat flap” have the same intent & Google shows the content that fulfils the user intent, Google should shows similar results for both keywords, right?

The answer is yes! This is the case today. But it used to be different.

A few years back, Google didn’t have the technology to understand the intent of a search query. They heavily relied on exact match keywords in the pages content.

Meaning, if you searched for “cat flap with prey recognition” but your page was optimised for “cat flap with prey detection”, you didn’t show up.

In short, if a page was optimised for a keyword, it ranked when searching for this specific keyword. If not optimised, it didn’t rank.

The outcome back then were hundreds of pages with basically the same content but optimised for slight variations of a keyword: “buy cool tennis shoes”, “buy tennis shoes”, “buy good tennis shoes”, etc.

All had their own pages. Their own urls.

Today, thanks to their introduction of e.g. BERT in 2019, the same page ranks for all of these keywords.

So what can we conclude? What’s the learning here?

Google knows when two keywords have the same intent.

They found out by constantly A/B testing pages. If people are satisfied with the same pages, the keywords have the same intent.

Meaning the same urls show up in the top 10 search results for the two different keywords.

But there's a problem. We can’t say from just looking at the keywords if people want the same thing. Luckily however, we can reverse engineer the intent by checking the top 10 urls on Google.

If the urls for two search queries overlap, the keywords have the same intent. If not, then different intent.

Easy.

We'll make this "overlapping thingy" clear in a second but let's first introduce topics.

Topics are the new Keywords

A topic is a cluster (=group) of keywords with the same intent. Meaning that people have the same intention when putting either of these keywords into Google.

The topic name (A) is thereby the keyword with the largest monthly search volume. It is also called the primary keyword.

The total monthly search volume of a topic (B) is the sum over all keywords. If you calculate the sum over all keywords on the left side, you'll see that it is 450.

The other keywords (C) are called cluster keywords. Easy as that!

But while understanding a topic is easy, finding it isn’t as straight forward.

A topic is a cluster (=group) of keywords with the same intent. Meaning that people have the same intention when putting either of these keywords into Google.

The topic name (A) is thereby the keyword with the largest monthly search volume. It is also called the primary keyword.

The total monthly search volume of a topic (B) is the sum over all keywords. If you calculate the sum over all keywords on the left side, you'll see that it is 450.

The other keywords (C) are called cluster keywords. Easy as that!

But while understanding a topic is easy, finding it isn’t as straight forward.

A topic is a cluster (=group) of keywords with the same intent. Meaning that people have the same intention when putting either of these keywords into Google.

The topic name (A) is thereby the keyword with the largest monthly search volume. It is also called the primary keyword.

The total monthly search volume of a topic (B) is the sum over all keywords. If you calculate the sum over all keywords on the left side, you'll see that it is 450.

The other keywords (C) are called cluster keywords. Easy as that!

But while understanding a topic is easy, finding it isn’t as straight forward.

How to find Topics

If you have 1000 keywords, the only way to find the intent is to do 1000 searches on Google (one per keyword), note down the top 10 results for each & then group them together by url overlap.

This way you can reverse engineer the intent. But how much should the overlap actually be?

Usually, I go for an easy overlap rule. If two keywords have more than 30-50% search results in common, they have the same intent & belong to the same topic (Rule of thumb).

As you can imagine, this is quite a hassle & does not scale if done manually.

That’s where keyword clustering tools come into play. The more popular ones are Keyword Insights which again cost you good money.

If you use Spexia you don’t have to worry about this as we cluster keywords for you by default!

“But Olli, what are topics actually useful for”, I hear you ask? Great question.

Topics are the new keywords.

While you used to create one page per keyword, now it’s one page per topic. Or in other words: One page per user intent.

This might sound abstract but is just to say that you would have one page for the topic of “ai cat flap”.

Nice!

If you have 1000 keywords, the only way to find the intent is to do 1000 searches on Google (one per keyword), note down the top 10 results for each & then group them together by url overlap.

This way you can reverse engineer the intent. But how much should the overlap actually be?

Usually, I go for an easy overlap rule. If two keywords have more than 30-50% search results in common, they have the same intent & belong to the same topic (Rule of thumb).

As you can imagine, this is quite a hassle & does not scale if done manually.

That’s where keyword clustering tools come into play. The more popular ones are Keyword Insights which again cost you good money.

If you use Spexia you don’t have to worry about this as we cluster keywords for you by default!

“But Olli, what are topics actually useful for”, I hear you ask? Great question.

Topics are the new keywords.

While you used to create one page per keyword, now it’s one page per topic. Or in other words: One page per user intent.

This might sound abstract but is just to say that you would have one page for the topic of “ai cat flap”.

Nice!

If you have 1000 keywords, the only way to find the intent is to do 1000 searches on Google (one per keyword), note down the top 10 results for each & then group them together by url overlap.

This way you can reverse engineer the intent. But how much should the overlap actually be?

Usually, I go for an easy overlap rule. If two keywords have more than 30-50% search results in common, they have the same intent & belong to the same topic (Rule of thumb).

As you can imagine, this is quite a hassle & does not scale if done manually.

That’s where keyword clustering tools come into play. The more popular ones are Keyword Insights which again cost you good money.

If you use Spexia you don’t have to worry about this as we cluster keywords for you by default!

“But Olli, what are topics actually useful for”, I hear you ask? Great question.

Topics are the new keywords.

While you used to create one page per keyword, now it’s one page per topic. Or in other words: One page per user intent.

This might sound abstract but is just to say that you would have one page for the topic of “ai cat flap”.

Nice!

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.