The first page of Google! It is undeniably the most desirable place on the Earth for all digital marketers and SEO experts (frankly, we are guilty of this too). And whether you are a business owner or a marketing director, we know your eyes sparkle too whenever you hear it: your website is now on the 1st page of Google.
So how can you get there? Are keywords the best way of winning the SEO Olympics and securing your sweet spot on the first page of the most popular search engine? The answer is both yes and no .... we know it sounds complicated, but continue reading and you'll know what we mean.
Are Keywords ALL It Takes?
There has been a great deal of conversation around keywords and their importance. Everyone keeps repeating that SEO is dead and it's clear that Google spiders are evolving quickly (now understanding meanings, content logic, and popularity)—in other words, Google IS your main SEO expert today. If this is the case, why should we even worry about keywords?
Wait, keywords do still matter. The way we use them has changed. Long-tail keywords are more effective than short-tail keywords, there is no more stress on keyword density, and in fact, keyword stuffing is one of the sure ways of having a present-less Christmas on Google this year. Some traditional keyword uses like adding a long-tail keyword in the headlines, subtitles, image alts, and URLs still have a major impact.
In the meantime, keywords still possess a considerable authority for companies doing local SEO. For instance, a plumbing company operating in Asheville, NC, or Greenville, SC (or any other local community of your choice) can gain qualified traffic and organic conversions due to keyword use in its local SEO strategy.
Generally, a lot has changed in the SEO industry in the past 5 years. In the 2000s, you could land on that 1st page of Google overnight, because of the logic how it ranked websites. Creating a website filled with high keyword density content, and some research in the low competition niches could earn you endless traffic in a single day. Those days, however, are in the past. Keyword research has gained more vitality for the success of your overall strategy, and you'd better think twice before adding it to your final list.
In a way, keywords are now glossaries that serve as guidelines for your digital marketing strategy. While you don't need to use every single one of them 7 times in an article, you should still keep their meanings and synonyms in mind. Google understands synonyms now.
Does this mean SEO is dead? RIP?
While the role of SEO has been diminished, it is still an important component of your digital marketing strategy. According to Business2Community, 60% of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results, so Google's first page is still The Place To Be. It would be more precise to say that SEO is still important, but it is no longer on the superficial, keyword-based level it once was. Today, SEO demands more intelligence and strategy, which is essentially tied up to your entire digital marketing campaign. Based on Search Engine Journal data, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, but we are convinced that this rate is directly related to your knowledge of your reader's profile. Do you know who your buyer personas are? If yes, you probably know their search habits as well. Do they prefer searching different keywords or they would rather check the first 10 pages of Google results for only one keyword?
Knowing how your buyer personas google (linguistic peculiarities, mentality, level of awareness) and how far they go in search results will determine your chances of being visible to them. This will also help you in the initial stage of keyword research, when deciding between high and low competition keywords. If you can still attract interested readers from the 4th page of Google, fighting for a high competition keyword with a high search volume might still be worth a try.
Finally, keywords are not the only way to boost your SEO, among 200 different signals that Google takes into account are the quality of inbound and outbound links, social media activity, content value, site design, ease of use, and much more.
The bottom line is that although keywords are not going anywhere, and SEO will still play an important role in many digital marketing campaigns, brands and businesses should start learning how to exist online without them. For those who know how Google search works, it's clear that the search engine rewards content that is written for the user, not for spiders. Want a second opinion on your website? Run your optimization through our free SEO checklist and if you want to chat more, send us a word to firstname.lastname@example.org.