I can’t help but notice that in the past month, since SMX Advanced, there are a lot of articles out there trying to shock people with headlines about keyword research being dead and keywords not mattering any more. Remind you of anything? Remember when SEO was dead and link building was dead. Moz’s latest research study actually showed that sites pretty much have to have links to rank. So much for the death of link building.
What really happens with all of these things is that they change but people want to get clicks so they right extreme headlines about how something is dead or doesn’t work any more. The people that know what they are doing (but still are trying to shock) will at least explain in the article that whatever they are discussing has just changed, but it is still alive and well.
Unfortunately, a lot of people that don’t pay close attention and just read the headlines, suddenly think that keywords don’t matter any more, or links don’t matter any more, etc. Sadly, oftentimes, these are actually companies claiming to know how to do SEO and tell prospects that in sales pitches. I run in to prospects all the time that tell me they “know link building doesn’t matter any more” or now “keywords are irrelevant now”.
Semantic Search: Keywords are not irrelevant, Google is just smarter
So why do people say, or some sadly think that keywords, or keyword research is dead? Because Google now offers semantic search and things got a bit more complicated. A great example that was used in Seattle is that if someone is searching for “Seattle attractions”, Google doesn’t want to serve us sites that have “Seattle attractions” written all over the page, they want to show the searcher sites that actually has information on the different Seattle attractions. This requires a certain amount of inherent intelligence that Google is starting to master. They know what “Proof” keywords go with the keywords you are trying to rank for.
Continuing with the example above, if someone searches for “Seattle attractions”, from successful search history, Google has figured out that previous searchers are happy with sites that deliver information about the space needle, Safeco field, the waterfront, etc. and these things become “proof keywords”. Now your results are benefited by also having this other information on your site.
This is the case with every search now and I’m sure Google is currently better at some than others, but this is how keyword research is changing. It isn’t dead. You still need to know what people search for, but you also need to know what people want to find when they search it. Google is in the business of providing solutions, but all of those solutions are language based, so the keywords still matter, you just have to understand how they matter.
As always, be the best solution for the searcher’s problem, and people will come. Do it intelligently and do keyword research, but provide a solution.