Are Keywords Still Relevant?
Everybody knows that quality content is king. That the top ranking content focuses on topics, not keywords… but isn’t that in direct contradiction of the most basic foundation that everyone knows about search engine optimization?
The whole point of SEO is to let search engines know which search phrases are relevant to your website or blog. So if the keyword is “dead” then does that mean SEO is a lost cause?
Even though it’s common knowledge that quality content is created for users, not search engines, there is still a lot of confusion over what this means exactly. Search engines (who are we kidding here… Google) will always be an important source of qualified traffic, but only if your website is actually relevant to search engine users. There’s a big difference between stuffing a page full of high-value keywords (the wrong way) and publishing useful content for a targeted audience (the right way.)
So… should I use keywords or not?
As an afterthought, you may still include keywords in the title, metadata, headers, and content body of any page or article. Or, you might not use those phrases at all. In fact, focusing too heavily on the keywords that you think will bring targeted traffic is a mistake because you are giving more thought on the right words to use instead of the right topics to attract qualified consumers.
There’s a problem with over-editing because sometimes the best word is not “the right one”. If you find that you are frequently changing phrases in an attempt to manipulate a blog or page to be more search engine friendly—even as an afterthought—when you are taking away from the value of that page itself.
More importantly, the top ranking content consistently contains proof words (those are phrases that are strongly related to specific keywords and especially likely to appear at the same time) while keyword-focused content usually misses that mark.
So write about a topic and just… let it be.
Choose the topics that matter to your audience.
Broaden your horizon a little and write about topics that are relevant to your best customers… even if it isn’t entirely relevant to your product or service. This is the whole point of content marketing, and search engines will always favor the most relevant (read: interesting) content based on user response.
In summary, don’t go out of your way to drop keywords but never go out of your way to include them either!