Since its inception in the mid-nineties, SEO (search engin optimization) has largely revolved around the usage of keywords in written content. It’s a pretty straightforward concept too when you consider how a rudimentary search engine works. Simply put, it matches what people type into the search box to the text on the page. As such, a keyword-centric approach was straightforward, reliable and highly desirable for any business wanting to boost its website’s visibility in search results. Terms like keyword density, keyword ranking and long-tail keywords were being bandied around left, right and center and, it seems, a lot of would-be marketers still live in that world.
It’s extraordinary how many businesses still insist that their content writers focus on producing SEO content with barely a second thought to their human audiences. They seem to think that spam is an acceptable approach when it comes to digital marketing, and they clearly have no understanding of the way the search engines work. They use keyword-stuffing, hidden doorway pages and hidden text all to fool Google into putting their content higher up in the search engines. The fact is, however, the search engines are smarter than that.
Today’s search engine results are now far more personalized thanks largely to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013. The goal of the search engines is to offer relevant and quality results, and that is simply impossible if it relies solely on matching keywords to search queries alone. Instead, the increasingly advanced software that works behind the scenes to rank and categorize content seeks to understand the intent behind search queries. As such, search results are based on a multitude of factors, such as related words, content relevancy and, most importantly, the previous search history of the user.
Ultimately, search results look different to everyone who’s using them. They’re based on search history, physical location, account settings and a number of other factors. In other words, what you see is not what others see, hence the reason keywords have increasingly little relevance when it comes to SEO.
By paying attention to the search results, you’ll see that numerous top-ranking webpages don’t feature any keywords in their content. Instead of trying to place as many keywords into your content as possible, you should be focussing on creating value to your readers.