Keyword research was always the cornerstone for SEO and the first thing that marketers looked at when deciding if a campaign was viable or not. They would look for targeted keywords using Keyword Planner or Market Samurai, and long tail keywords for niche targeting. Once keywords were found with a high search count and weak competition, website content would be based on the use of these keywords. They would be strategically placed in the URL, title, H-tags, content body, site images and meta-tags. This would rank your content in the search engines and more specifically Google. Don’t get me wrong, this still works to a certain extent and keyword research will always be a major piece of the puzzle, but things have changed somewhat.
With machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as semantic machine learning, which Google are now using, the user experience is now the great ingredient with how search engine rankings work. This to me is a good thing. Some marketers were saturating the first pages in Google with spammed content that had no real expertise. The purpose was to game the search results to gain the traffic. It is better to find real opinions. They should be getting the coverage they deserve. Google will reward this, even though it does require a little more effort.
Social signals now play a big part in how things rank and algorithms. This is not something that Google has openly admitted to but is true none the less. Researching keywords through these channels would be a simple and easier way to spot the relevant keywords to be used in our campaigns. Facebook groups and hashtags can provide significant traffic to your website. If Google knows you are active on these channels, it will go in your favor with your campaigns.
Keyword research does still matter, but rather than just using keywords because they show good results in keyword tools, you need to know:
- The who, the what and the why behind each of the keywords you use
- That social signals matter more than ever
- That basic keyword research on its own will not get you very far
Just remember, go beyond the basics, put yourself in the shoes of the searcher, and provide a great user experience for them.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
What methods do you use, and do they work?
Please leave your comments below.