Are Keywords Still Important for SEO?

SEO: Do We Still Need to Work With Keywords?

There’s a big debate going on at the moment about whether or not keywords are still important.  Some digital marketing experts claim that keywords are dead, and that only content matters. Others believe keywords have their place, and should show up in your content.

Here at Siteguy.net we have always believed in the value of excellent and informative content, but we also feel that the right keywords help searchers find what they are seeking.

That said, what makes a good keyword?

For openers, it’s not just a single word. More often than not, it means a phrase that encapsulates the content of your site. If you sell tractors, for example, then Tractors is one of your keywords. But, unfortunately, it’s not a very good one, simply because it’s too generic. Tractors for Sale is better, and Tractors for Sale, Colorado, better still.

Now we’re narrowing down not only the topic of the content, but the focus of the site and the location of your business. Add the brand of tractor you sell, and you’ve got a very effective keyword phrase.

Evolution of Keywords

Not surprisingly, trends online are always changing. Google constantly updates its search algorithms. And this can be maddening, since it is not always clear what they are looking for. But experts in the field of SEO now say that search engines will be less interested in exact keywords and more interested in overall meaning and context of page content.

It makes sense, really, because more and more people are using voice searches, also called semantic search. Think of how we use Siri and Alexa, posing questions in normal conversational phrases. AI is getting smarter all the time.

That means that at some point the search bots will be checking website pages not so much for keywords, but for the total meaning of the page.  AI will understand whole phrases, sentences, and someday, even paragraphs. And your site will rank according to your whole context.

Let’s go back to our tractor example for a minute. We will still have our keywords somewhere on the page, but there will also be sentences or paragraphs talking about the tractor as a piece of farming equipment, a lawnmower, perhaps a backhoe or front end loader. Now you’ve added a good deal of related information for which viewers may also be searching.  Someone looking for Tractors with backhoes, Colorado, may find you in search even though that is not a specific key phrase on your site.

AI is understanding more of what we want, and that is going to change how search functions work in the not-too-distant future.

But, But, But…

This is all first coming into being. Right now, keywords and phrases still have their place, and still point the search engines to your site.  The difference is that instead of relying only on keywords to boost your rankings, the best plan is to begin implementing other strategies in addition to keywords. Writing informative and clear copy that delves deeply into your topic is essential. And yes, you can still use  keywords. Just don’t overuse them, or rely on them solely, and that will keep both your viewers and the search engines happy.

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