Do Keywords Still Matter?
Finding the right words isn’t always easy.
People have been debating the importance of keywords for SEO for years. Some people believe that keyword research is no longer necessary, while others think that it’s more important than ever. So, what’s the truth?
For years, keywords have been a staple of SEO. They play a key role in helping your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). While the role of these terms may have changed over time, they’re still an important part of SEO.
What exactly are “keywords?”
The term refers to the words and phrases that people type into search engines when they’re looking for information. They can be as general as “travel” or as specific as “trip to Paris in December.”
The goal of SEO is to make sure your website appears as one of the top results for relevant targeted terms. In order to do that, you need to understand which terms or phrases are most important to your business and then optimize your website and content around those words.
The Changing Landscape Of SEO
The role of keywords has changed over time as the landscape of SEO has evolved. In the early days of SEO, stuffing a bunch of words you wanted to rank for in your content was a popular technique. This involved filling your website with as many search terms as possible in an attempt to rank higher. Some people would even cram a bunch of terms in the white space with a white font just so the search engines would read them and the visitors wouldn’t see them.
However, search engines soon caught on to this tactic and began penalizing websites that did this. As a result, keyword stuffing is no longer an effective strategy. In fact, it’s a great way to get your site completely thrown out of the search results. (Read: Just don’t do it. Just…no.)
In recent years, the focus has shifted from keywords to quality content. Google has made it clear that they value quality content over spammy, low-quality content. As a result, businesses have started to place more emphasis on creating high-quality content that their audience will enjoy.
So, Should You Still Focus On Keywords?
The answer might surprise you.
It’s “well, sort of.” Just not in the same way.
In the old days, we’d learn about what a client did, and we’d come up with a list of keywords that had strong search volume. We’d pick the ones that made the most sense for various spots on the website.
We even had criteria for which keywords we’d focus on with our content. The criteria were that the term had to be:
- Relevant to what the client does
- Have strong search volume numbers (no point in focusing on a term that’s relevant but no one actually searches for!)
- Conversion friendly. This means that the term is likely to get clicked on. (e.g. “red Nike Revolution 6 Next Nature” vs “running shoes”)
We used the ideas above to select a final list of keywords to either write content for directly or use in our content throughout the site.
While this decision process is still useful, there have been some tectonic changes
In order to rank higher in SERPs, you need to focus on both the quality and the quantity of your content. You also need to make sure that your website is properly optimized for keywords.
The key is to find the right balance. Don’t focus so much on keywords that you sacrifice the quality of your content, but don’t ignore them altogether. Here’s an example of what NOT to do when writing content for your website:
“If you’re looking for auto repair in Buford, Bob’s Auto Repair Shop is the best auto repair shop in the auto repair industry”
You get the idea. Always write for the reader. They’re the ones that give you money for what you do.
By incorporating keywords into your content and optimizing your website for them, you can improve your SEO and rank higher in SERPs.
This means the way that you use keywords is going to change. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Use long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more specific than general keywords. They’re easier to rank for and they attract a more targeted audience.
For example, the general term “travel” could be replaced by the long-tail keyword “budget travel tips for Europe.” This phrase is more specific and it’s easier to rank for than the general keyword. It also attracts a more targeted audience who is interested in budget travel tips.
2. Use keywords throughout your content
It’s not enough to just include keywords in your title and in your meta descriptions. You need to use them throughout your content, including in the body, the headings, and the tags. Like we said earlier, don’t just hammer the same terms over and over. Mix it up and use natural language. Use plural and singular forms of your targeted words and phrases.
3. Optimize your website for concepts more than terms
In order for your website to rank higher in SERPs, you need to optimize your content for keywords. That much is still true, but modern SEO has shifted from focusing less on the individual terms and more on the concepts. For example, think of what your business does, and boil it down to a single term. From there, outline all the different variations of what you do and offer. This is not only how you build out your content, but your site architecture as well.
For example, if you’re a landscaper, that’s your primary keyword to write about. From there, you could write about what all that entails such as installing sod, planting trees, installing hardscapes, building retaining walls, and all the other services you provide. You’d talk about this on your home page but you’d most certainly create pages to talk about how you provide these services as well.
4. Use keywords behind the scenes as well
While the lion’s share of what Google wants to see is good pieces of content on your web pages, you still have to use specific targeted terms behind the scenes as well. This means you want keywords in your title tags (headings on the page), meta tags or page descriptions, and on your image names. Doing all this is just part of good on-page SEO.
5. Use keyword research tools
Keyword research is still an important part of SEO. In order to find the right keywords for your business, you need to use a keyword research tool.
6. Monitor your ranking
One of the best ways to measure the success of your SEO efforts is to monitor your ranking. This can be done using a tool like Google Search Console or SEObility. By tracking your ranking, you can see how well your SEO efforts are working and make changes as needed.
SEO is constantly evolving, and the techniques that worked a few years ago may not work today. However, by following the tips above, you can make sure that your website is properly optimized for keywords and that you’re ranking higher in SERPs.
Quality Over Quantity
Google has made it clear that they value quality content over spammy, low-quality, or duplicate content. As a result, businesses have started to place more emphasis on creating high-quality content that their audience will enjoy.
But what does this mean for your SEO? Should you still focus on keywords?
On the one hand, search engine algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, and they can now understand the context of a page without needing you to load it up with overused terms. On the other hand, effective keyword research is still one of the best ways to improve your SEO.
In general, you should still focus on including terms relevant to your business in your content. However, you don’t need to worry about cramming them in at every opportunity. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that naturally includes your target keywords.
Quality content is more likely to be shared on social media, which can help improve your SEO. In addition, high-quality content will rank higher in SERPs and it will attract a more targeted audience.
Keywords are still an important part of SEO, but they’re not the only factor that matters. You also need to consider factors like website speed, user experience, and backlinks. If you focus on creating great content and optimizing your website for users, you’ll be well on your way to improving your SEO in 2022.
Keyword Search Tools
There are a number of different free keyword research tools available, including Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, Ubersuggest, and Google Trends.
Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to use more than one tool to get the most accurate results.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a free tool offered by Google. It’s one of the most popular keyword research tools available, but it’s mostly used when targeting terms for Google Ad campaigns. It allows you to find keywords based on your website’s content and your target audience.
Moz Keyword Explorer is also a free tool, and it offers a variety of features including competitor analysis, SERP tracking, and keyword difficulty scores.
Ubersuggest has both a free and a paid version that allows you to not only get other ideas when you put in terms but it lets you localize your research in order to see the difference between how often a term is searched for nationally vs locally.
Google Trends doesn’t really give you specific search volume numbers as much as the trends over time. This tool also lets you get data on how popular a search term is nationally as well as locally.
SEMrush is a paid tool, but it offers a free trial that allows you to find keywords, track your ranking, and analyze your competitor’s SEO strategies.
All of these tools are valuable for improving your SEO, so it’s important to use them regularly to get the most accurate results.
The Future Of SEO
SEO is constantly evolving, and it’s clear that the techniques that worked a few years ago may not work today. Some of the things we used to do to get our sites ranked would now even get us deindexed from the search results. However, by following the tips above, you can make sure that your website is properly optimized for keywords and that you’re ranking higher in SERPs.
Keywords are still an important aspect of SEO, and they will continue to be important in 2022 and beyond.
There are several reasons why keywords are so important for SEO. First, keywords help you target your audience more accurately. By including relevant keywords in your website’s content, you can ensure that your site will show up in search results for those keywords. This means that your site will be more likely to attract visitors who are interested in what you have to offer. This is all about attracting targeted traffic to your site.
Second, keywords help you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your website ranks, the more likely it is to be seen by potential customers. In addition, higher rankings mean that you are more likely to attract organic traffic (traffic that comes from people who find your site through a search engine).
Finally, keywords play a role in establishing your website’s credibility. When potential customers see your site ranking high in the search results for relevant keywords, they will be more likely to trust your site and consider doing business with you.
By including relevant keywords in your website’s content, you can improve your site’s ranking, attract more visitors, and establish yourself as a credible source of information.