In the early 2000s, many microsite owners became millionaires overnight because of Google’s SEO formula. SEO was simple and easy to manipulate; you only needed to do the following:
- Use the keyword search engine to identify neglected niche
- Create a small auxiliary website to your main site and target niches with high keyword density
- Use the microsite to drive traffic to an eBook (the money marker).
- Repeat the same trick for other neglected niches and keywords.
However, in 2011 Google realized this trick and beheaded it through the Google Panda update. The microsite millionaires could not make money with this manipulation.
So, SEO is not as valuable as it was when optimization was still young.
If you are looking for tips to optimize Your Blogs for Google’s Featured Snippet, I encourage you to read this article.
What Is SEO’s Current State?
Although SEO and keywords are still important for search engines, their role is not as prominent as in the beginning. Understanding how SEO works is still valuable for online marketers because people still type keywords on search engines when searching for relevant information.
However, Google has continued to update its search, with the introduction of Google Hummingbird in 2013 reducing the relevance of SEO keyword gaming. Google can now do SEO for you through search intent.
Google’s algorithm has increasingly become sophisticated in determining the meaning behind the questions or words a potential customer types on the search bar. Your content could appear on the search result even though the customer did not include your site keyword in their queries.
It is vital that you know how SEO techniques have changed; otherwise, using outdated tactics may waste your time and money. Some SEO tactics do not work and should not be used by serious online marketers.
Significant Changes In The SEO Keyword Game
Don’t get me wrong; keywords are still valuable; however, Google has become more competent, and how SEO is used has changed.
Consider some significant changes you should know:
1- Authority Is More Valuable
PageRank is still important; however, it is not the sole determinant of your ranking on Google. It is just one of the over 200 metrics that Google Hummingbird uses to determine a page’s ranking.
Google considers several metrics cumulatively to determine a page’s authority.
These metrics include outbound and inbound links, content quality, social media shares, site design, and ease of use.
Google also considers information relevance by how long visitors stay on site for specific keywords. You will likely not rank higher if visitors exit your site the moment they enter it.
These metrics measure your relevance and value as a thought leader. If your page has higher authority, you will likely rank higher.
2- Keyword Placement Is More Valuable Than Frequency
As I stated in the beginning, keyword still matters to an extent. For instance, if you want your content to rank, long-tail keywords should still show on your page title, subheadings, URL, meta description, image description, etc.
However, how many times you use keywords in your article may not be as important. In the past, it was essential that you repeat keywords in the body copy at least 7 times.
However, this trick is outdated. Many writers will tell you that forcing keywords in a piece of writing makes writing less enjoyable and unnatural to read.
3- Google Interprets Keywords Differently
Since the introduction of Google Hummingbird in 2013, the search engine now understands search intents in conversational and complex searches rather than specific keywords.
Additionally, Google included an AI-driven ranking in 2015- the RankBrain– to enhance its query interpretation skills.
What do we mean by this?
In the past, if you searched for “what coffee places near me delivery?”, Google would for specific content matching these exact words.
However, after RankBrain was launched, Google now interprets these keywords in context to determine what you want by rewriting the query. You could be looking for a coffee shop that delivers their products so that you may get results like “coffee delivery 55072.”
Google got smarter in using the keywords you provided. It understands the nuance better and can easily connect the keywords with your true search intent.
4- Voice Search Has Added New Dynamics
Voice search has become a regular Google search feature and has changed how we use keywords. Although voice search did not kill keywords, it has impacted how we use them.
You become more conversational and detailed in your search when you are talking than when typing.
For instance, if you wanted to know who Kenny Rodgers’ first wife was in the past, you could type a search-friendly query, like Kenny Rodgers’ wives. Google would then list the singer’s wives from the first to the last.
However, with voice search, you can talk to Google asking what you want, like, who is Kenny Rodgers’ first wife?
The challenge is seen in Google statistics, showing that approximately 15% of searches are new daily.
This poses a significant challenge for SEO professionals who may struggle to determine if these new searches are unique or come from voice searches.
Voice searches can generate results that do not include keywords.
Because it understands the context within and between search strings.
For instance, you can know specific facts about a famous person without using their names or accomplishments through voice search.
It means that Google can generate relevant search results even if you leave crucial keyword bits. The search engine will look at the bigger picture to decern your search intention.
Besides keywords, what can help your content rank higher on Google?
SEO Tips For Higher Ranking
These tips can help you rank higher and stay on top of search results longer.
1- Keep Readers On Your Site For a Long
If you create irrelevant or disorganized content, your readers will pogo-stick your content.
But what is pogo-sticking? It is when an internet user clicks on your site and immediately leaves because they did not find anything helpful on your site. If this often happens to various users, Google will downrank your site.
So, how do you ensure readers enjoy your content?
Ensure you produce easy-to-read content by using several bullets and subheadings. You also want to use short and meaningful sentences.
No fluff. Get straight to the point and address the reader’s pain points.
2- Use “suggest” Keywords
If you are a content creator, you probably know that you can use Google suggest on the search tab to get long tail keywords that people are searching for.
But did you know that you can use the same trick to get long tail keywords on YouTube, Wikipedia, Bing, etc.?
Utilize these keywords to help you optimize your content for various search engines.
3- Remove Defunct Pages
Do you have pages that do not bring traffic to your site? Now could be the right time you prune them to improve your ranking and Google traffic.
One site experienced a 31% increase in search engine traffic and a 28% increase in revenue by deleting its unproductive 11,000 product pages (Source: Moz.com)
Why is this the case?
Because Google prefers a few stronger pages with high-quality content than many weak pages. If your pages are bloated with some low-quality content, weed them out to increase your ranking chances.
4- Conduct An Industry Study
Many bloggers are shy to invest in an industry study. However, it is the best way for anyone looking for backlinks from authority news sites and blogs in your niche.
If you can invest in industry studies and publish them, you could contribute to tons of traffic, press mentions, and social media shares.
5- Incorporate Visual Content
If you want to improve traffic and backlinks for your site, add infographics, videos, screenshots, images, and podcasts to your content.
But because Google does not understand these visuals, I recommend you add lots of text to describe them.
Additionally, you want to include high-quality content beneath these visuals to make them relevant to your readers.
6- Update Old Pages
If you have old blog posts on your website that do not perform so well, you can update them to improve your rankings.
You can add internal links to your site and external links to authority sites.
Keywords are here to stay because internet users continue to use them when searching for content.
However, when using them, consider the search intent behind every keyword. You want visitors to stay longer on your site, hence the need for keywords matching search intent.
You could also use keyword tools like Semrush to help you find appropriate search intent. Of course, search intent will continue to shift with time, but if you naturally place keywords on your blogs, you will rank higher.
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