Search engine optimization (SEO) has seen a lot of changes in recent years. A few years ago, many people entered fragmented terms into search engines. Now, it’s more common for people to ask complex questions using full sentences. Search engine algorithm updates over the past few years have focused on understanding these types of queries better through natural language processing, marking a major switch from keyword to topic-focused SEO. Based on these new developments, the increasing importance of search topics shows no signs of slowing down.
To deal with these changes, and prepare their site for future updates, NADCA, the HVAC Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Association worked closely with AH to rethink not only the type of content they publish but also the way they optimize them.
Our Two-Phased Approach
Phase I: Laying the Structural Foundation with Technical On-Page SEO Elements
In order to establish an effective on-page SEO strategy, AH conducted an SEO audit to identify any potential issues that might be preventing NADCA’s website from ranking well in search engines. The audit looked at several factors that influence the performance of web pages, such as keyword rankings, title tags, header tags, site structure and speed, linking metrics, and more. Based on the technical recommendations from the audit, our first plan of action was to optimize the on-page elements of the top 20 most visited web pages. This would ensure each page contained the components that help search engines understand what the page is about and which keyword phrases it should rank for.
Phase II: Shifting to a Topic Cluster Content Program
Next, we shifted NADCA’s content creation to a topic cluster model, where a single “pillar” page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic and multiple subtopic content pages link back to the pillar page and to each other. This linking action signals to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic. With the goal to increase NADCA’s consumer reach, we designated “A Homeowners Guide to Air Duct Cleaning” as the pillar page and established a core topic with five (5) subtopic clusters using keyword research.
We then created hyper-focused clusters of content geared toward the subtopics throughout the year. The pillar page linked to each cluster page and each cluster page linked back to the pillar page using the same hyperlinked keyword. This allowed us to manage the internal linking between each page more efficiently, boost NADCA’s search ranking, and provide a better user experience for visitors.
NADCA saw a significant increase in organic traffic and improved keyword rankings when comparing year over year data.
While the structure of how these results were achieved may seem daunting and out of reach, each portion of the phased approach can be done in small spurts over the course of a year, making sure your association’s website has a user and SEO friendly design and a strong content strategy behind it.