How important are keywords for SEO in 2019?
Hold on a second, surely anyone with even a vague idea of SEO knows that keyword stuffing went out of vogue in the early 2000s. And for good reason – articles built around keywords are neither fun to read nor valuable for most human users.
So in 2019, where the world of SEO pushes into the exciting realms of voice search, AI-enabled indexing, VR, AR and blockchain, does the humble keyword still have a place in your strategy?
In short, yes. While keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs, understanding which keywords your users are searching for can make it easier for Google to index and find your website. Certainly they are no longer the determiners of good SEO strategy, however they are a valuable part of a nuanced and comprehensive approach.
In this article we will look at:
- The main components of a good SEO strategy in 2019.
- Content strategy and where here keywords come in.
- How to research the best keywords.
What should SEO strategies include in 2019?
The insight you’ve all been waiting for – how exactly is Google going to shake up its search algorithms in the coming year and how can you update your strategy to match it?
Well the good (though not hugely exciting) news is that the really groundbreaking updates are unlikely to land in 2019. While there undoubtedly will be updates and tweaks, the big transformations will take a few more years to come through.
But this doesn’t mean you can just let your strategy get cold. In 2019 gaining SEO visibility will require an impeccable:
- Technical website build. This means a fully functioning site that gives a great user experience.
- Content strategy. This means a regular supply of quality content that targets your audience.
- Links that point to your site. This was more important in the past but having other people link to your site as a thought leader is a strong SEO tool.
Keywords fit squarely into the content part of this list.
Your content strategy – relevance is king
Let’s repeat it for those at the back: keyword stuffing has no place in an SEO-enabled content strategy. Why? Google updates from Panda in 2011 to Hummingbird in 2013, latent semantic indexing and most recently RankBrain have become increasingly good at determining user search intent. Rather than relying on simple keyword matches to relate websites to search statements, the Google search algorithm can now place emphasis on content and websites that provide valuable answers to users questions.
What’s the key lesson from this? Always focus on making your content relevant to human users – especially your target audience. The more your content delights and provides value for human readers the higher your pages will be ranked in search. Google algorithms now reward high quality content that delivers value.
Where do keywords come in?
With that said keywords shouldn’t be abandoned altogether. A well crafted keyword strategy is still useful to help you rank for specific searches.
Naturally including a relevant selection of keywords which your audience may be typing into Google can help your site rank well. The emphasis here should be on organic usage. Don’t try to squeeze them into your copy. In most cases if you are providing true value for your audience you will find that you will be using your keywords naturally.
Keywords can also be used to great effect in:
- Page titles and subheadings: Including important keywords in your title can help Google crawlers identify your page as being useful to the searchers. It also helps readers clearly understand what value they might gain from your piece.
- Description and meta tags: Strategically including relevant keywords in your description and meta tags also indicates to crawlers that your site relates to specific searches.
How can you research the best keywords?
Understandably the success of your keyword strategy very much depends on how well researched your keywords are. Fortunately, there are some very easy-to-use tools that help you find the best keywords for the searches you want to rank in:
- Google Keyword Planner: This should be the first port of call when creating a keyword list. Keyword Planner is simple to use and clearly demonstrates what terms people are searching for and how much paid competition there is for these words. This can help give you a flavour of what your audience is looking for.
- Google search console: You can get free access to Google Search Console for your website you can track the search terms that people are using to get to your website.
- Organic search suggestions: If there are some key searches you know you want to win, typing them into a search engine and checking what auto suggestions appear can give you a more indepth picture of what people are commonly searching for.
So to sum up, try not to lose sight of your keyword basics in the face of all the exciting new SEO possibilities in SEO. Keywords may become a thing of the past, but that has not happened yet.