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How Keywords in SEO Are Not What They Used to Be

  • Post published:February 27, 2023
  • Post category:Blog

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to creating a successful online presence. The way SEO works has changed drastically over the last few years. One of the biggest factors that have impacted this is Google’s constant updates.

With the updates coming in so often, it’s getting harder to understand how SEO practices remain relevant. After all, how can old tactics work when Google isn’t the same anymore?

One of the most important elements of SEO is the utilization of keywords. With the constantly changing updates, it can be difficult to know whether or not keywords still matter in SEO. 

What Are Keywords?

Chances are you’ve heard the word “keywords” thrown around, especially if you’re in the business of building websites or social media. Keywords are words or phrases (“key phrases”) that you put into a search box to find whatever it is you are looking for. These keywords have been used in campaigns for the longest time, but the way they are used has certainly changed.

Keywords are single words that are generic and rather difficult to rank. Examples are “marketing” “website” “social media” “spokane”. Usually, when you are looking for a certain product or service, you don’t use generic terms knowing they won’t give you the results you want. You already know what you’re looking for. So instead of searching for “marketing”, you want to be more specific, like “digital marketing agency.” 

They’re still vague and generic, but it’ll rank better than just plain “marketing”. These are called Short Tail Keywords. There are two or more words which are easier to rank, but still don’t have a good conversion rate as these searches are still too generic and vague.

To rank better, we need to expand these short tail keywords into something more informational, which are long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are what we want to rank for. These are often called “key phrases”. If you search for a term like “digital marketing agency in Spokane wa”, you can see that the search is more focused and purpose or purchase driven.

These users are going on search engines to find something specific. And if you fill that need, you can achieve conversion. 

Why Should You Use Focus Keywords?

By using a focused keyword, it helps you target the page on a specific topic. It’s also important to not over-utilize the word. This is where synonyms become helpful. When you properly utilize a keyword, you help drive traffic to your website, which also means driving competitors’ audiences to your website instead.

The Difference

When it comes down to it, keywords are important, but not as important as they once were due to Google’s continuous expansion of its ranking factors. Before, you can write an article, plug in as many keywords as you can, then just wait for traffic to pour in.

Now, since search algorithms don’t display results based on just keywords anymore, instead, it looks for many variables such as term frequency, density, synonyms, authority, and many others, then display articles based on relevancy to that keyword, but some of the articles may not even contain that specific keyword but possibly synonyms or other related topics and may often rank higher than articles that utilize that specific keyword.

Writing for search engines is something that used to work before, but will most likely hurt your article nowadays. Write for people instead. This way, you work your keywords naturally into your articles, you can use synonyms or even have a topic that is highly relevant and not use your keyword at all. Why? Relevance. If your article is relevant, well written, and has high authority from SEO, Google will recognize it and rank it higher.

This is why it is very important to write well-written articles that are useful to the users instead of repeating keywords. Those old methods just don’t work anymore, and you have to adapt to the new ways in the implementation process for SEO.

Why Is Relevance Important?

Google’s algorithm now understands phrases and synonyms. This becomes relevant when you’re writing for users to stay relevant to topics you want to write for.

Bottom line? The better a text or the content of a page matches a search query, the more likely it is that it will achieve a good ranking. 

To gain more relevancy, optimize your page with backlinks from other sources. This strategy shows Google that it is relevant to the topic and relevant to the niche. Getting backlinks from a variety of easy target sites is also an old SEO tactic that no longer works.

One of the major objectives of SEO is to generate targeted traffic, and using the right keywords in the right amounts can assist with that. 

What Does Google Want You to Know?

Google wants to rank sites that users want to see. Users control how Google adjusts its rankings. If you think other users want to see your content, it’ll rank higher.

Google prefers well-established brands. Branded search volume is the number of visits to your site from a branded keyword on a search engine, and is the key metric to guide you on how your brand is growing.

Google prefers topic-specific sites because that’s what you and everyone else love. Focus on your niche, where your products or services fit in its market. Make your website an expert in its industry.

Personalization. If you and a friend search for the same thing on Google, the tendency is your results will be different. Why? Because Google is trying to personalize your search results based on your activity.

Google wants users to have a good experience. When a user searches for specific keywords and can’t find a good result, they blame Google for it. This is why Google has chosen to lean into personalized results. To rank well on Google, you have to make content useful with the users’ intent in mind.

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that helps computers learn. It helps in SEO with understanding better the user intent behind every search.

Get Started with Proper SEO

Do keywords still matter for SEO? Yes, it’s not going anywhere. But, the usage has changed over the years. As trends, algorithms and other things change, SEO will adapt. Instead of worrying about how these can help or harm you, get in touch with our SEO Experts at Jack Pine Media. 

Our team is constantly staying on top of these trends, learning and evolving. Connect with us at Jack Pine Media and get a FREE marketing evaluation for your business. Proudly serving Washington and Idaho areas including Spokane, Post Falls, Hayden, Liberty Lake, and Coeur d’Alene.