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A Guide To Article Splitting For SEO
Creating content isn't all about slapping together a few words, inserting some keywords and pushing it live. Well, it used to be, and in many niches and markets it works, and as humans are creatures of habit, so we continue to do the same thing even if we see diminishing returns.
As long as it gets some traffic, you're still on the right course, and to an extent you are correct. However, creating content has evolved over the years. As rankings become more dynamic, as keyword intent is better understood, Google and Bing are starting to crave relevancy.
They want to serve content that speaks directly to the user's query or intent, and best satisfies the searcher. In the past having a jam-packed article would mean bagging the top rank and along with it the majority of the impression and clicks but as I mentioned today as Google reviews intent it's going to try and serve the best-suited content.
To split or not to split?
To some, SEO is a guessing game, to others, it's a science and to the majority its an unknown factor. Those of us looking to leverage SEO know that content is critical, but theirs so much conflicting information online. Some are claiming 500 words, 700 words, 2000 words. Some say combine it into a comprehensive piece others are saying split it up into niche offerings, so what is the best way when there are advocates on both ends?
This splitting issue is something I aim to address with my experience in getting search engines to validate my contents existence. Having spent my years hoping Google looks at me the way Hugh Grant looks at Julia Roberts in Notting Hill I've come to my conclusions which I would like to share with you.
I'm just a piece of content, standing in front of a search engine, hoping for some traffic. - Julia Blog Flirts
What I am about to share with you isn't some law of thermodynamics, but it undoubtedly has shaped my content strategy over the years to significant effect.
Determining your niches worth
Diving into creating content these days without doing any research first would most likely result in a belly flop. I recommend doing your keyword research first to start to get an idea of the keywords people are using when searching for the content in your niche.
The keyword data will give you an overarching sense of what people are looking for and the questions they have around a product or service. Protip! Trends and questions
While keyword research is fundamental to a content strategy if you want to make sure you're on the right track, you should do keyword trend research as well as question trend research.
You can do this type of research using tools like Google Trends and Quora. What this will do is give you an idea of how popular a term ahs become or question has grown over time. It helps you focus your content on the highest intent first and then prioritising specific keywords and questions over that of others.
This data will help you when creating a consolidated piece by breaking it up with your header tags to give users quick access to the answers they want. It can help by ensuring you provide the most popular solutions first or it can be used to decide which pieces should have stand-alone pieces and which should you combine into one article.
Once you've grouped all the keywords in your niche, its time to categorise thein, this step in the process is where the power of keyword research lies and becoming a productive researcher means spotting and grouping several keywords by intent.
Let's say, for example; I wanted to produce content for a travel site in Cape Town. I know water sports and activities are a big attraction for tourists, so I start grouping various water sports-related keywords.
Based on intent
So you're looking at your keyword research for water sports, and I see the word lessons or classes feature in combination with water sports. I can use this intent to create a post that feeds into this intent.
- Top spots in Cape Town for beginners to learn water sports
- Ideal water sports gear for beginners
Based on interest
SI then notice a more significant intent for surfing queries than kayaking, kite surfing and snorkelling. To me, this is a strong indication that there is a higher demand for surfing related content and that I should focus my efforts they're or even split it into a stand-alone piece.
- Top water sports in Cape Town - Would be my generic broad appeal post
- Top Surfing spots in Cape Town - Would be my niche post catering to the higher proportion interest
When grouping keywords, you also need to look at the number of variations available. I would say if there are more than ten variants on a specific intent, you can safely look at splitting without competing for the same keywords.
What you want to avoid is creating content that competes with each other for the same search traffic. Google has seen this as spamming, and through the last two core updates, we've seen plenty of sites predominantly large media sites lose tons of web traffic due to keyword cannibalisation.
A situation where I would splitIf a particular interest set or intent set has less than five variant keywords, I would feel confident that I could create one post that could compete for the majority of those keywords if not all five.
A situation where I would consolidateIf a particular interest set or intent set has more than ten variant keywords, I will look at how I can focus one post on a specific keyword set and the other set can be targetted with another post.
Considerations when splitting
If you do plan on splitting your content which everyone eventually has to once they reach a certain point in their content strategy you need to remember that each post on your site has to meet a certain purpose for the user and for you as the site owner.
Some posts are meant to educate, others may be to convert, and they all have their place on your site. SEO doesn't have the level of granularity that paid search has when targetting a specific keyword because creating content that hits the right intent isn't easy.
Creating a feedback loop
It comes from trial and error; some consolidated posts won't rank for certain keywords, while some split posts won't be as competitive, but you have to make these calls.
Over time with the data you get from search trends, you can see which content pieces should be split and which were better as a consolidated effort.
As you create content, you create feedback loops you can use to refine your posts; you can see which ones convert better, rank better, reach better and then use this data to improve your content efforts.
Remember I mentioned Google trying to match keyword intent, well it doesn't do the best job, it also cannot account for people using a keyword but wanting a certain set of information. As a content creator, you should be building funnels between your various split pieces and leverage internal interlinking.
A user may enter via a large scale educational piece and then be encouraged to click into a mid-funnel post or product page/conversion content. They might also land on your site via a product page and require more convincing, so they're looking for more information which your blog could provide.
If we refer to my water sports example, they could read a post on events and want to know about the gear they need so if it's not mentioned explicitly in the post or you're linking to a post that caters to the spin-off intents you're going to lose users.
Building funnels between your content if done correctly, will increase your time-on-site and lead to conversions far more often.
Not the only reason for separation
These are only my reasons for splitting an article for the maximum SEO impact. Still, you may also want to consider splitting pieces for purposes such as:
- Articles that are heavily image-laden
- Content that changes annually
- If your target market uses slow connections or mobile devices
- If your sites technical aspects already have long page load times
- If the content is highly technical or complicated
There you have it, my guide to splitting out or keeping content together. How do you decide on splitting or combining content? How has your strategy worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below; we love a good old debate.
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If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles.
If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on content marketing & SEO.
- How to Align Content Writing and SEO for Ecommerce
- How To Optimise YouTube Videos For SEO
- When Should You Consult an SEO
- How Your Niche Website Can Benefit From SEO
- Does Website Downtime Affect SEO?