Monday, August 3, 2015

Are Keywords Dead?

Are keywords dead? Back in January, Jayson DeMers, writing for Search Engine Watch, announced "the focus on keyword-based search engine optimization is dying quickly."

His point was similar to a point we've have made on this blog many times--at least since the inception of Google's Hummingbird algorithm, in October, 2013. With this new algorithm, Google seemed to acknowledge that browsers, especially mobile browsers, were using longer, more complex search queries--what DeMers calls "long tail keywords."

This is how DeMers defines long tail keywords:

"Essentially, long-tail keywords are less popular keywords because they have less search volume and less competition to rank for. Consider the following two examples: 'home remedies for bed bugs' or 'how to get rid of depression.' These are each considered long-tail keywords as compared to trying to rank for the much more competitive search terms 'bed bugs' or 'depression.'"

A founder of a Seattle-based SEO agency, DeMers speaks the language of the trade. For him, keywords are about "trying to rank."

We agree, although we believe keywords are also a useful way to clarify your offering. We believe keywords should also serve as the germ for good content. No doubt, a rigorous SEO campaign must now compete not merely by keywords, but by information, too--the sort of information that answers questions.

As we noted before:

"By paying attention to the unique specificity of your product or service, you can dramatically improve your visibility on Google. Instead of thinking about keywords, however, think about questions. What question(s) does your product or service answer? Once you've answered these questions (for yourself), you can begin to compose your answers."

Please Read: "SEO 101: To Compete, You Must Evolve"

Keywords can help you rank. [Photo source]

So are keywords dead?

Not by a long shot. Alex Stepman of Stepman's PC (our blog's sponsor) recently had occasion to discuss the importance of single-word keywords--and how a new business should use simple, inventive keywords to compete.

Quality content is a must, yet before you start writing, you would do well to choose a few, succinct keywords to populate your site.

"After all," as DeMers notes, "Google still needs some kind of text to figure out what it is your company actually does."

You can view keywords as guideposts for Google. The search engine uses your keywords to classify your business.

DeMers' article has a lot of great information about how to use keywords to your benefit. For more, read "Are Keywords Relevant to SEO in 2015?"

Alex recently told us about a client who wished to compete based on his own, carefully chosen keywords--keywords, in Alex's estimation, that had already seen a massive amount of competition. For this reason, Alex offered the client (and this blog) a different view of choosing keywords.

In fact, Alex believes, it is often best if the client does not choose specific keywords. In Alex's view, the SEO company is better positioned to choose keywords.

"Technically," Alex said, "a customer will not really know the competitive keywords. Additionally, he or she will not know what it takes to promote any specific keyword, or if it even makes sense to compete for a specific keyword."

Often, it turns out, it does not make sense to compete for certain keywords. Why? Many new businesses choose obvious keywords--keywords that are dominated by industry leaders with extensive visibility and standing. To compete for these keywords, then, a new business would have to battle for months, even years, without any guarantee of success.

As an SEO specialist, Alex believes, "it is my duty to do the keyword research, to define the most popular keywords for any given industry, to study how search landscape and the demographics for a given keywords--per day, month, or years. Only then, based on this report, should a website owner decide to compete or not."

The key, Alex believes, is to compete where you can, and to create inventive new content for new keywords that have yet to see much competition.

This thought echoes a similar thought by Rand Fishkin, of the Moz blog.

"You're not going to have an opportunity to rank," he writes. "It's much, much harder to get into those top 10 positions...than it was in the past because there are so many ranking signals that so many of these websites have already built up over the last 5, 10, 15 years...

Really, where I want folks to 10x, 10 times better than anything I can find in the search results today. If I don't think I can do that, then I'm not going to try and rank for those keywords. I'm just not going to pursue it. I'm going to pursue content in areas where I believe I can create something 10 times better than the best result out there."

Keywords are not dead. You just need to know what keywords to use--and how to use them.

Content Marketing with Stepman's PC 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with 10x content, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.