Are you finding SEO writing complex? Are you getting overwhelmed by too many jargons?
And most importantly, what do you do with all these keywords?
This incoming piece of advice will help.
Look away from your keywords for a while and catch up on search engine basics. After all, it is the search engine that decides what you need to do with your SEO and content. The keywords are mere pawns - the algorithm is the puppet master.
Around a decade ago, SEO content writing experienced its dark ages. Link farms and keyword stuffing had reduced the user experience, and low-quality sites leveraged loopholes to get high ranks. Rising out of this chaos in 2011, Google's Panda algorithm update brought the attention back on content originality, relevance, and quality. Keyword overuse became detrimental to page rank, and bounce rates received more attention. That was the beginning of the end for keyword-dominated SEO content.
Let us do a quick scan of how search engines are progressing.
Semantic Search Reduced SEO’s Keyword Dependence
Google, Bing and LinkedIn are just some of the big names that employ semantic search, a protocol based on identifying the deeper context of a search query. Semantic search recognises synonyms, natural language queries, and word variations amongst many other things. It has helped search engines move on from keyword-centric indexing models.
Hummingbird and RankBrain – Reasons to Focus on Content
After Panda, the 2013 Hummingbird update was the next big thing for SEO optimisation. Hummingbird helps the crawler understand synonyms and local context better, adding a basic AI element to search. Google’s promotion of conversational searches has a lot to do with the expectations from content that Hummingbird brought along.
Here is a table to sum up key points on how Google algorithm updates have dictated SEO copywriting best practices.
Apart from links and content, RankBrain is considered the most important search ranking mechanism in Google. It is a machine learning AI addition to the Google Hummingbird algorithm that studies how people interact with the results and collects this information, learning from it.
Look at the snapshot below. Google's search engine crawler probably does not watch rom-coms, but it records past user queries allowing it to connect Mel Gibson hearing women's thoughts to the movie ‘What Women Want'.
With Hummingbird and RankBrain, keywords lost a lot of their dominance in SEO. Content now needs to answer questions and satisfy user intent.
Other SEO Best Practices
High bounce rates are also detrimental to your SEO goals – speed and compatibility are major factors. Design and hosting quality also determines your rank. Speed is one of the key factors in search engine rank.
Keywords are still important in SEO content
Don’t say goodbye to keywords yet!
They are still a part of the SEO process – your footholds as you climb up the organic ranks. Best practices include using your primary keyword in your page title and inserting it in the meta description. Scatter applicable keyword variants across the body of your content and use secondary keywords in sub-headings.
Search engines are getting smarter. Keywords have less influence on their own and crawlers factor contextual elements when a search query is typed. Keywords help in labelling and indexing – they remain the bridge between the search engine user and your domain.
But as search engines improve their cognisance of quality, your efforts should also be spent on improving your content writing and satisfying the search queries.
How important are keywords in your content strategy? Do you agree with the points above? Share your thoughts below.