Every piece of web content should start with keywords. Keywords are still ultra important for any web page.
It is still the main way that Google identifies what your page is about and therefore to some degree how they should return it in a search result.
However the way you look at keywords today should be radically different than you may have done in the past.
Google Changes Everything
Before many of the Google algorithm changes like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird it was just a matter of adding in your keywords at every point on the page you thought possible. This would give Google a signal of high relevance and so your page would likely rank high in the search results (serps).
That concept is now completely outdated. You will here “write content for people, not for the search engines” and that is good advice.
Two Ways To Get (or help) You
It is also important to understand that there two specific ways that SEO can affect your site. The first is your pages may be rewarded for their good SEO but also it can be penalized for bad SEO.
Note that reward is more like being on a scale. Do a bit better and get a bit higher kind of thing. While penalties are more like cross a line and your out. So a swift and extensive drop in the results can occur if you get a penalty. Note also that many penalties now are automatic. So the Google algo will simply drop your web page out of site literally overnight.
The plus side of that is that you can also fix your web pages and get out of penalties automatically as well.
Is No SEO The Best SEO?
Many sites that are doing very well and have stayed untouched (or even improved) through many Google changes are site that were not written by “SEO experts”. The very nature of SEO means it changes and you will have to change with it (or die).
However you should still consider your keywords, content and site structure for the search engines.
Couple of things that you probably should not do.
Don’t repeat your keyword throughout the web page. You may be told that you should have your keyword a specific number of time on the page. Nonsense. That kind of thinking will move you into “over optimization” territory and likely end up with a Google Slap.
Forget about Keyword Density. That is related to they above in that it it a measure of the amount of times a keyword appears in particular size of text. i.e. 5 times in 100 words would be 5% density.
These kind of measures have been given less and less importance in the Google algorithm and probably have zero influence at this time. This is partly due to being signals of bad SEO (web spam) and partly because Google are much better at analyzing web page content.
To do that they need to understand the ”users intent”. This is something you need to fully understand as well.
When a searcher types something into a Google search box. What excavate are they asking for. It may not be completely obvious from the words types.
i.e. How much is an electronic dog collar… might be fairly obvious
but electronic dog collar .. may mean where can I buy one?, what different one’s are available?, how does one work? Etc.
So Google have put a lot of effort into understanding exactly what the search means when they type in a search.
So if you now think about “user intent” instead of “keywords” in the search query you can see that adding multiple keywords into your web page does not help identify if the user intent is likely to be satisfied.
Also consider Hummingbird. This helps better understand the user intent. So again if there is more “understanding” then your target keywords need to be used less.
However to make your content more understandable to the search engines you need to use something that is often referred to as “semantically related (SR) or LSI keywords. Not the best description to be honest and often badly misunderstood as “related keywords”. These are not the same thing.
In this sense SR keywords are words that you may expect to find in a text on that particular subject.
So if your page was explaining how to use electronic dog collars it will likely use words that relate to those actions. If it was about buying electronic dog collars it would have prices and company names that are known to sell them. If it was about how they worked then there may be technical jargon used in the text.
These would all be clues to Google as to the content and help them match the “user intent” with the results.
Judging User Intent
Google decides the user intent is to buy one. Your web page is stuffed full of the keyword but it has no indication that the content is about buying. Your page will not appear in the top search results no matter how well you think you have SEO’d it or how many links you have pointed at it.
If Google does not think it will satisfy the user intent it isn’t getting shown to him.
So what is good SEO practice in this case?
Firstly make sure your target keyword appears in the page title. This is what will display in the Google search results. You can also include it in the description as the first part of this will also be displayed in the search results. However it is more importantly that the description be some kind of call to action or at least make the searcher want to click that link to go to the page. So it needs to be exciting or tantalizing or offering exactly what the searcher wants.
Next you should include your keyword in the headline (that is the visible title of your post or page). It may gain some additional ranking juice from being there but more importantly it is the first thing a visitor will see after clicking the Google results link. If that Title does not seem to be what they are looking for (user intent again) they may just click right back to the search results to find another page.
Clicks out of the page or hitting the back button to the search results is a sure sign to Google that the user intent was not satisfied and you can be sure that if that happens too much your rankings will start to drop.
Also include additional information to hold the new visor. Electronic dog collars might be what he is looking for but “Our electronic dog collars are guaranteed never to fail” might sound bit more exciting.
One thing I have noticed more and more is that the exact keyword match seems to be becoming less relevant. Again I think this is due to the better understanding of the content by Google.
For instance a page heading of “electronic ultra long range dog collars” may actually be better. Sure the keyword has been split up but now it has more information for Google to work with.
Yes you should include your main keyword near the beginning of your main body text as this will give a clear indication of the subject but you don’t need to repeat it multiple times down the page. Let the rest of the text flow naturally and tell the reader or visitor what they need to know. If the keyword happens naturally then fine , if not also fine.
More important to get those SR keywords into the text to allow Google to better analyse the true meaning of the content.
Generally that happens naturally if it is a well written text.
Be An SEO Detective
If you want do some detective work then simply Google your target keyword and read the content of the top 10 pages returned. What question are they answering?, because whatever it is that is what Google thinks the user intent is(rightly or wrongly).
Also look at text, can you see any recurring themes or repeated words across the top pages? These are the SR keywords I was talking about. If they are what Google expect to find in this subject text then you will find them in the top 10 results. Makes sense right? Google is basically giving away it’s own secrets as you can look at the top 10 results for any keyword search and see exactly what it is they want to rank.
You can extend this concept to a real science but I will pick up on that more in my next tip.
So for now mull over what I have said. I hope it has opened your eyes a little and you start to look at keywords and SEO with a better understanding.