keyword research

In the world of internet marketing, few topics are as highly debated as keyword research is.’ In recent years, keyword research has been heavily debated among marketing’s elite, with opinions being split down the middle in many cases.

We’ve seen the same debate wage on among our clients. On one side of the argument, we have the keyword-centric client, who insists on stuffing keyword phrases into every sentence possible. Opposing them, we have the client who feels keyword usage is dead and irrelevant to the modern user.

Regardless of where you fall, there is one aspect of keyword research that no one can argue. That is, since search engines have existed, a search has always begun with a keyword query entered into a search bar. From there, the search engine provides results for the keyword query conducted to the best of its  ability.

While both sides of the argument for and against keyword usage in 2016 and beyond hold value, the notion that keywords are dead is far from true. Keywords aren’t dead at all, but they have changed drastically over the years.

A Paradigm Shift in Search Engine Algorithms

Search engines constantly look for ways to improve the quality of results a user receives by making results increasingly relevant to the search phrase entered. For instance, the keyword phrase “au pair in California” could yield multiple results such as “au pair looking for a job in California” or “family in California, seeking an au pair.” Hence, the need to scale down search results to the most relevant, more specific concept a user is looking for.  In order to keep users satisfied with the results delivered back to them, Google and other search engines found new ways of approaching searches, such as:

  • Encrypted Searches

By encrypting searches, Google stopped site owners, operators and marketers from determining which particular search landed a visitor on their site. For marketers, the change meant an enormous shift in their process. Without access to keyword data, marketers were left in the dark in determining what drove visitors to their site.

  • The Hummingbird Update

    If you want to stay on top of Hummingbird's semantic search, you must adapt to the knowledge graph.

    If you want to stay on top of Hummingbird’s semantic search, you must adapt to the knowledge graph.

Perhaps the most ambitious adjustment made to Google’s search engine algorithm in recent years, the Hummingbird update conceptualized semantic search. Not only would a search query return pages based on keywords, but now it would also interrupt the contextual meaning and intent of the phrases used in the search. The update was merely the beginning of Google’s shift away from basic keyword queries  to now focus on achieving the best user experience.

Staying Relevant in Search

The dramatic shift in the way search engines operate shook the marketing world. Before the algorithm updates, stuffing your website’s content with keywords was the way to get on top. After the update, stuffing your content with keywords meant a significant drop in search engine rankings or even receiving a Panda Penalty.

Naturally, many marketers were quick to announce the death of keyword usage. However, it was and is far from dead. In fact, keywords will always matter as long as there are search queries conducted, even if they are spoken or typed. As an online marketing and business owner, you need to change your perspective on search and keywords if you want to stay relevant.

  • Generate Useful Content

Previously, the way to the top of search engine rankings was keyword stuffing and over optimization. As a result, websites with ‘unworthy’ content made it to the top of the ranks, leaving sites with valuable content in their wake.

Keywords, although utilized in a different way, still should play a huge role in your SEO marketing strategy. A content marketing strategy and keyword research should work hand-in-hand, driving the right audience to your site and providing them with high quality, valuable content that leaves a lasting impression.

  • Supporting Your Primary Keywords

Hummingbird’s semantic search means that search engines can identify the meaning of the words that surround your primary keywords. Therefore, to succeed in the online marketing industry, you should surround and support your keywords with relevant synonyms and words. For instance, if you are an electrician serving New York, you will want to support your primary keywords with richer content that will let the audience know that you do commercial or residential electric installation, upgrading and repairing electrical systems.

  • Understanding Keywords & Search Intent

It is as important to understand the purpose of a search conducted as it is important to know the keywords being searched the most. As search engines get smarter, associating relevant keywords with the attributes of your targeted persona will be paramount when you are creating and optimizing the content on your website.

  • Answer Your Audience’s Questions

People want answers, plain and simple. Provide your target audience with answers to the questions they’re asking and you’ll quickly find yourself on top of search engine rankings. Google’s Page Quality Raters are instructed to look for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness when scoring any webpage. With this new emphasis on what Google calls E.A.T., create content that is centered around your primary keywords while aiming to both inform and engage your audience.

Keyword research is not dead; it’s just adjusting to the ever-changing landscape of the online marketing industry. Keyword density may not be as relevant as it once was, but this means that the focus has shifted to the value of the content on your site. If you want to be an authority on a topic, you need to put in the time to show your knowledge with blog posts, offers, and your site’s primary content. Use the keywords as your guide, and set course for the top spot in Search Engine Rankings.

Content marketing takes a lot of work. Lucky for you, you don’t have to face it on your own. Get in touch with the writers, wordsmiths, and search engine experts at Eyeflow Internet Marketing. At Eyeflow, our award-winning team includes some of marketing’s most progressive and forward-thinking thought leaders, giving your site a solid backbone of content to rise to the top of search engine rankings. Don’t let Google’s ever-changing search landscape affect your business. Stay on top of the trends by contacting Eyeflow Internet Marketing today.

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Cory is the Director of Content Development at Eyeflow. He graduated with a degree in Multimedia from Point Park University, where he held focus in print writing and online content. When not at work, Cory spends his time conquering Pittsburgh's hills on his bike, tackling DIY projects and crafting creative recipes.

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