No page exists in a vacuum.
A search engine sees any website as a spider web of interconnected URLs, each impacting the relevance and importance of another. Yet, SEO standard practice is to optimize pages in isolation — optimizing page content one by one.
SEO 3.0 is an improved model of how a search engine functions and how businesses need to align with it. It measures each URL on a site in the context of the whole – does it add value to the site or does it actually interfere with some other pages?
This framework puts you in the driver's seat by helping you to get the full picture. It's the perfect way to stay ahead of the game in an era of topical authority and AI content generation.
We'll take you through the concept step-by-step, so let's start from the beginning!
SEO 1.0 | One Page = One Keyword
We all know the 1.0 framework — each page is optimized towards one target keyword.
This framework is mostly facilitated by tools like Yoast and RankMath. The main keyword goes into your URL, metas, title, mention it a few times in the content and you get the green light.
But have a look at the Google Search Console query report for a well-performing page you’ve created. How much of the total clicks come from the main keyword?
Chances are that it’s less than 10%.
It's the hundreds (or thousands!) of search term variations that are really driving the success. SEO 1.0 completely ignores that.
Let’s take a closer look at the next stage of SEO evolution.
SEO 2.0 | One Page = Hundreds of Target Keywords (a keyword cluster)
Essentially, SEO 2.0 is reverse-engineering the competition to make your content match what you’re up against. And hopefully, you can add that extra 10% that dips the scales in your favour.
This model is far more accurate than SEO 1.0 and leads to actionable insights which allow you to optimize the entire page, not just the heading.
This framework is mostly facilitated by tools like SEO Surfer, Clearscope and Frase.
However, new issues surface:
- The insights you get are without context. It does not help you establish or follow an overall information structure on your website. Is this new idea adding value on top of the pages I already have, or is it actually cannibalizing them?
- One-upping competitors usually just leads to longer, less helpful content. Mention more keywords, include more subheadings, more lists, and more images. But it might not be in the reader's best interest.
"This is also one of the reasons you need to scroll three miles to find the ingredient list for that new mac n’ cheese recipe you looked up".
- You still need to come up with the right idea. Navigating the endless sea of topics you could (or should) be talking about is still up to you. The right idea makes all the difference, but it can be hard to pinpoint.
This leads us to the next step.
SEO 3.0 | Whole Domain = All Keywords Relevant to the Business
In practice, this means that you need to take ALL the URLs on your website and match them to ALL relevant keywords for you.
You have to assign each page one specific target keyword cluster, and they have to be exclusively linked.
One page can have only one matching keyword cluster and vice-versa.
Doing this will add a new important dimension to the domain structure.
The outline of each new page builds upon every other previously published post.
Here is a thought exercise:
Think of your page and all the keyword cluster combinations you have set. Now open up your Google Search Console and answer the following:
- Are your pages getting impressions from the search terms you intended to target?
- Are your search term impressions landing on the right pages?
This process shows you which pages are performing their intended purpose, which ones are sabotaging others, and which lack any purpose entirely
Enabling you to:
- Replace entire sections with an internal link if the content already exists elsewhere.
- Break apart a long article into separate URLs to increase relevance for long-tail keywords.
- Merge several pages that cover the same idea into one cohesive piece.
All these insights come from comparing the page + keyword cluster combinations you have set and the real-world data from Google Search Console.
The 3 Data Points That Validate Your Page + Keyword Clusters Fit
The SEO 3.0 framework introduces a new metric “Cluster Match Impressions” which is key to optimizing an entire domain.
These metrics help you look at your domain through the lens of a search engine:
- URL Impressions - the total impression count for one URL across all keywords.
- Cluster Impressions - the total impression count for one keyword cluster across all URLs.
- Cluster Match Impressions - the impressions that happen only between this pair of target URLs and target Cluster. In an ideal situation, an URL would rank with keywords from only one Cluster (the target Cluster or the “Cluster Match”) and vice versa.
ContentGecko Uses SEO 3.0 to Calculate Suggested Actions
SEO 3.0 — how to optimize each page for the strength of the domain as a whole?
Quick recap of the SEO 3.0 principles:
- Every page on a website targets a specific set of keywords (a cluster).
- The keywords within one cluster are matched with only one page and vice versa.
- The metrics that indicate how well we are doing are URL impressions (UI), Cluster Impressions (CI) and Cluster Match Impressions (CMI).
OK, but how does ContentGecko use this?
Comparing the 3 metrics lead to specific actions for each of your pages.
UI, CI and CMI are roughly equal - this is the ideal state.
The URL gets most of its impressions with its target cluster and vice versa. We have maximum relevance and minimum internal competition.
UI are higher than CI and CI are roughly equal to CMI - the page is trying to do too much.
The URL gets impressions with several clusters other than its intended target. By being more specific with our content, we can increase relevance to the target cluster and interfere less with other clusters/pages.
Both UI and CI are higher than CMI - the page is missing the search intent.
We can align the page better with what people are looking for by changing the focus of the page and the angle from which we approach the subject.
CI are higher than UI and UI are roughly equal to CMI - the page is too narrow.
The target cluster leads to impressions with several URLs other than its intended target. We can improve relevance by adding content to the target page that covers more of the keywords. In some cases, we can just merge content from the competing pages into this one.
When analyzing the entire domain against all relevant keywords, it’s inevitable that some URLs will be without a matching cluster.
This usually means that the URL is too similar to some other page. A cluster can only be matched with one URL so out of these similar URLs, the bigger one wins.
This means that the smaller one serves no SEO purpose and is actually causing a negative effect through internal competition and index bloat.
That’s why, in most cases, we can improve results by just removing these pages — delete the content and 301 redirect the URL to the similar URL that will remain.
There is one special case here to look out for - if the URL that has no cluster match is getting a significant number of URLs from one cluster.
This is a clear signal that results could be improved by merging this content onto the URL match of that cluster.
Stay Ahead With SEO 3.0
In conclusion, SEO 3.0 is a more advanced approach to understanding how search engines work and how businesses can align with them.
This framework involves evaluating each URL on a website in the context of the whole, determining if a URL adds value to the site or if it interferes with other pages.
This is a more comprehensive way of approaching SEO compared to the traditional one-page, one-keyword approach, which only looks at optimizing content page by page.
By following this framework, businesses can stay ahead of the game in an era of topical authority and AI content generation, as it helps them to establish an overall information structure on their website, allowing them to make better decisions about what content to create and how to structure it for optimal performance in search engine results.
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