Since the dawn of the internet and the age of SEO, keywords have sat high at the top of a mountain. They have been paramount to any SEO campaign and the number one focus. Many businesses will have looked for companies and asked them things like, “get me to number one of Google”, “I want to be at the top of Google” etc. Anyway, I'm sure you get the picture, keywords have been crucial and looked at as a measure of SEO success.
However, with the ever-changing landscape and the ever evolving online world, are keywords still important or should your focus be on something else entirely?
1) Keywords & SEO
I'm going to start this point by asking you this, do you have keywords in your SEO campaign? How important are they to you? Your answers are probably yes and very! Most SEO companies continue to report on keyword rankings as well as other things like Google Analytics. However, rankings have often been at the forefront and still are with many. SEO used to be a lot simpler than it is now. You could do some keyword research, pick out some top keywords, stuff those keywords onto your site, build a ton of backlinks and rank highly on Google. But the game changed long ago and continues to change. With this change, Google has evolved and increased in sophistication, Due to this, some deem it no longer necessary to target specific keywords but instead focus on a topic.
2) Semantic Search & Google's Changing Algorithm
As you know Google changes and keeps adapting over time. Due to this, there have been countless updates to their core algorithm and this continues to be the case. During its evolution, the search engine has focused more and more on what is called semantic search. Semantic search is all due to relevance and Google's ability to understand what you are trying to get at from your search query. It seeks to boost the accuracy of search by understanding the searcher's intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace to generate more relevant results.
Because of this and the way Google now works, keywords are definitely not as important or useful as they once were. Why? You could create a blog article on “how to choose a pair of shoes” for example and rank for multiple variations of keywords.
3) What Are Topics?
Topics are a general categorisation of what you are writing about. So for example, if you're based in the manufacturing industry and want to produce content on the subject of precision engineering, instead of creating different pages targeting a set of different keywords you'd create one page that really delves into this topic. This page then has the ability to be able to rank for an abundance of search terms. Some see this as the now and the future of SEO. Out with the keywords and in with the topics.
4) Keywords Or Topics?
The question now looms. Should you focus on keywords in your SEO campaign or instead write an in-depth piece of content on a specific topic and just look at how much traffic that resource generates. Keywords are definitely the old school method and topics are the more modern approach. However, can you really use one of these tactics without the other? In my own opinion, I believe the best SEO approach right now is to use the two hand in hand. Use them simultaneously. This way I think you'll achieve better results. By using them together I don't mean creating one piece of content and optimising that page for lots of keywords. I would suggest to do some keyword research on a topic and pick out some core search terms that are relevant to what you want to write about. Make sure you include these in your piece of in-depth content as subheadings and sections etc. Then you can keep a track of how your content performs by looking at the amount of organic traffic it is attracting and if you wanted to you could also check your rankings for the core search terms you wanted to target.
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