Do SEO Keywords Matter Anymore?

SEO keywordsWith all the Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird updates, etc., and Google’s ongoing quest to provide relevant content for its users, we have been asked more than once lately if “traditional” SEO techniques and Keywords are becoming passé.

Interesting question. And we’ll answer it, but first some background…

Google has ALWAYS attempted to provide its users with web pages containing content that is informative, timely and relevant to what their users are searching for when they type in their search terms.  So we can postulate what their mission statement must resemble…

In a nutshell, Google’s mission is to provide its users with a list of web pages that contain quality content that matches up with users’ search terms and also their expectations, and which are ranked according to Google’s estimation of their relevance to the topic being searched. 

Keep in mind that Google monetizes its site by having people click on the paid ads that appear both at the top and in the right-hand column of its search results pages. If Google’s organic or “natural” search listings no longer served up pages that were relevant to users’ search terms, it would lose traffic in general, and its revenue from pay-per-click ads would suffer accordingly.

So strictly from a business perspective, it is imperative that Google’s organic search listings provide its users with what they expect: listings of web pages that provide original, relevant content that meets their expectations.

Gaming the System

It’s pretty obvious that Google is tired of people trying to “game the system” by using what is called “black hat SEO.” These are cheesy, short-circuit techniques aimed at trying to “fool” Google’s algorithms into “thinking” that a certain page has quality content that matches certain search terms Google’s users are typing into its search box.

SEO keywordsAs you probably know by now, these black hat SEO techniques include things like stuffing a page with keywords, but little supporting textual information. Or purchasing a bunch of spammy backlinks to a web page to make it appear “popular” so it gets a higher Google PageRank.

Those are just two of several black hat SEO techniques used by people trying to “game” Google’s algorithm.

So it was inevitable that Google would continue working to outsmart the people trying to outsmart its search algorithm. The latest endeavors in this quest were the Panda and Penguin updates and tweaks to Google’s algorithm, with more to come. (See also our blog article, “Panda and Penguin – DID YOUR WEBSITE DROP in the SEARCH ENGINES?”).

One way to look at this, is to assume that Google really doesn’t want any SEO techniques used by webmasters. That may be a harsh statement and even controversial, but think about it… again, what Google really wants to deliver to its users is lists of web pages that contain ORIGINAL, RELEVANT, QUALITY CONTENT that matches up with users’ expectations. Period.

So… what’s the best on-page SEO technique? Create web pages that contain quality content. Content that is original or authentic, content that stays on topic – one main topic per key page, and content that doesn’t contain the same keyword over and over.  Google now penalizes sites that try to over-optimize their content.

Back to our original question… Do SEO Keywords Matter Anymore?  The answer is YES.  But it’s all in how you use them.

Obviously, if Google’s users are looking for specific information on some subject, they are going to type in a few words. Those search terms are Keywords or Keyword Phrases. Therefore, you have to have those keywords or keyword phrases placed strategically in your page content somewhere so that Google can match your page up with users’ search terms.

Where to Put Them
The best places to put your SEO keywords is in your html/SEO title and html/SEO description, your page’s main visible headline which should be an h1 headline, and in the first paragraph or two “above the fold.” You can also place them in h2 headers further on down the page.

And do NOT put more than two top keywords in your titles.

(Note: Headlines are ranked H1 through H6. Those are html designations or tags that affect the size of the visible headline or “header”, with H1 being the largest- and ostensibly the most important, and H6 being the smallest. Your webmaster will be familiar with these. “Above the fold” refers to content that is high enough on the page that viewers do not have to scroll down the page to see it.)

You also need to use semantics and long-tail keywords as Google now uses Natural Language Processing (NLP)

With smartphones taking over net searches, your site must be optimized for mobile, and your web pages need to utilize semantics and long-tail keywords, not just generic ones. Mobile searchers use natural language, especially when entering vocal searches. We have other blogs that cover this subject in more detail.

The key to good on-page SEO is first and foremost original, authentic content that will be deemed valuable by your viewers, and strategic placement of keywords – without over doing them.

Over-optimization can result in your web page getting penalized by Google. The “offending” page will be considered less valuable. Therefore it will not show up as high in the search engine results as it could have without the over optimization.

Lastly, make sure your page content contains material that is supportive of your keywords.
For instance, if your keyword phrase was “healthy drinking water,” your page should have a lot of relevant information centered on that topic without having to use the keyword too frequently or simply resorting to its synonyms.

Written by Bob Nelson

Bob is a very experienced Marketing Specialist for both the internet and traditional marketing methods and activities.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RESULTS PROFESSIONAL MARKETING and a clickable link back to this page.

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