How Relevant Are Keywords for SEO Today?
In the early days of digital marketing and SEO, it was fairly simple to dominate the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and a significant amount of money could be made fairly quickly because of the way that SEO worked with the Google algorithm.
All you needed to do was identify what keywords were most relevant to your site and then just use those keywords in high density all over your pages, with no context needed.
However, Google's Panda update rendered this process obsolete. The algorithm for SEO completely changed and keywords now need to be used in a totally different manner. Now more than ever it is important to understand how keywords can still be beneficial when used correctly. Remember, you now risk the possibility of being penalized for over-using or "stuffing" your pages with keywords and no context.
"Keyword stuffing" refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.Examples of keyword stuffing include:
Examples of keyword stuffing include:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at email@example.com.
*This information taken directly from support.google.com
Today Google will rank your page based on how relevant the information is to the reader. Therefore it is important that you splash the proper keywords though our your copy in normal human understandable context. In other words, provide valuable information to your audience!
By themselves, keywords really do not help increase your search rank at all. Studies show that there are at least 11 other factors that have nothing to do with text or context at all that will help your site rank higher including, time spent on your site, bounce rate, how many site visits you receive and back-links and the length of your content (1000-2000 words is ideal).
And that keyword metatag? Forget about it. It's on pretty good authority that Google doesn't even look at it anymore. However, It is still important to use unique titles and description tags as those do actually show up on the SERP.
So, Keywords or no keywords?
To sum it up, SEO is so much more than keywords. You will produce and see much greater results by providing very relevant content in the correct context to your users with keywords spalshed throughout in a very natural sounding manner. Focus on the user experience, not the keyword stuffing. So yes, keywords are still relevant, just in a much, much different way.