Keywords: Dead or Alive?

Debates in the digital marketing industry are now questioning whether keywords are still king for SEO. The reigning factor used to be the sheer number of keyword usage on a site since Google only collected rankings information based on the keywords seen on pages. And with that simpler process, devious marketers would overload pages with keywords, resulting in irrelevant and poorly written content.

But as Google’s complexity has grown more sophisticated, so has SEO. Now Google is on the hunt for significance on site pages, and keywords are a direct source of that for searched topics. Where the keywords are placed on the page is more impactful than their frequency, and site areas are categorized for views. Meta information and headers are the top focus, with body copy second and sidebars and footers last in priority.

That being said, placement of keywords is tops when it’s most relevant. Google’s semantic search now finds meaning from user searches and relates them to how your site will be read and ranked.

Any grouping of words in your content can become keywords, so as long as it’s written elegantly and sensibly, your pieces will live on in relevance. These potential variations can also cover your bases for search combinations your customers are using that may have passed your mind, especially if they err to a more conversational or regional flow.

So where should these keywords go in an average piece of content? A solid site will contain both long- and short-tail keywords, but there’s no magic number per usage. Instead, to best maximize your content’s value, place them where they read naturally. If the keyword is related to the content topic, it will naturally be of importance and feature throughout.

Common areas to include keywords include the following:

  • URLs
  • Title tags
  • H1 tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt text
  • Beginnings of paragraphs/sentences
  • Body content (of course!)

Every website sits within its own industry with specific competitors, so your business may have set goals to push. Some keywords may be seasonal, have a precise shelf life, or fluctuate geographically. But generally, each business would want to be known as a source of good information, so content should also keep an educational tone. Frantic sentences that just repeat keywords give little sense of real content (i.e., keyword stuffing rampant before Google wised up).

Informative sites that have valued sources and interesting news deserve to be ranked highly. Providing content that references your sought keywords is a strong way to increase your site’s authority and appear early on in searches. Show your customers what they want to see: Your keywords can be research of what they’re seeking.

In summary, keywords aren’t dead. They’ve just been adjusted to be used in a smarter, more relevant way. How will you showcase your keywords on your site?

And don’t forget to download Stream’s SEO Checklist for a free look into setting up your SEO campaign!

Holly Semanchick is a SEO Content Strategist at Stream Companies, a greater Philadelphia-area advertising agency.{{cta(’48c43339-2c46-4595-afcb-782ccd32b000′)}}