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Forget Keywords

From days gone by, the issue of keywords as a way to raise a web site’s Google ranking was a non-issue. It was essential. Web pages bloated with repetitive keywords were the norm, until Google changed the algorithm to reflect a more semantic approach to page ranking. The importance of keywords has fallen from 100 on a scale of 0 to 100, to 22. Maybe. This may sound like SEO heresy, but there is a good reason behind the rebellion.SEO4

Google Beginnings

One reason is that Google thought it was downright naïve to allow web sites to rank higher on the basis of quantity rather than quality. There seemed to be an implied trust in businesses and people to do the right thing when developing web site content. What they learned is that when search engine results equated with traffic, which equated with sales, the war was on. This had always been true on a rudimentary level, but when it did not take long to discover people are generally lazy and will not turn to Page Two for additional results, Page One was the only possible acceptable standard. Quantity over quality morphed “You get what you pay for” into “You sell what they click on.” If that was not true, keyword stuffing would have been a fad instead of a common practice.

New Beginnings

With its latest changes to the algorithm in 2013, Google made semantic content – content that was more in line with the way words and phrases are normally used – thee use of keywords fell off the cliff on web sites everywhere. Companies are still revising their web site content to eliminate duplicate keywords to improve their ranking. One reason for this is because while search engines have become more sophisticated, users have become lazier. Some may argue that there are more users who have varying demands, which is true to a degree. But in general users are demanding search engines adapt to the way they communicate, which, if Twitter is a useful point of reference, is below normal English spelling and grammar standards.

New Adjustments

A SEO consideration that is barely on the radar is the increasing adaptation of voice searches. Primarily used by the younger demographic, these early entrants into the search engine wars will likely shape the future of semantic searches. While most people find using text searches more efficient, and voice searches error prone and annoying, the technology for an increased comprehension level by software is being implemented by powerhouses Microsoft and Apple. This means that incorporating the new technology into mobile devices will increase the demand for more conversational types of search engines. Expect Google to lead the way.

The reason you should forget keywords is because while they still have their place in today’s searches, they have actually evolved into keyphrases and semantic phrases. Inclusion of these later variants of keywords will elevate your Google ranking and lay a foundation for moving to a more sophisticated semantic approach as voice searching become the norm. Regular SEO analysis should be the norm of every company who wants to remain competitive.

It needs to be understood that it is not that keywords are not important. But like the word “red” it needs to be understood in the context of “read the book,” “the red book,” or whether the user meant to type in “read.” The problem is not the keyword itself, but what the user is actually looking to find. That is the bottom line problem with keywords and why SEO adherents need to think beyond keywords and focus on keywords in context.

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