With SEO taking a dramatic change of direction over the past year (Panda, Venice and Penguin), we’ve seen endless articles ruminating over just about everything under the sun – except the impact the updates have had on keywords! The apparent significance of keywords has slipped dramatically, which begs the obvious question: what is the future for keywords?
In the past I’m sure you can remember some of the simplistic keyword techniques that were used to boost web page rankings. It was simply a matter of doing some keyword research, following the keyword density rule, inserting the magic words in the meta tags, title tags etc – and job done!
Things have changed. In a post-Penguin world, it looks like keywords may have slipped down the pecking order (if you’ll pardon the pun!). For a while now, it’s been clear that keywords are less of a ranking factor with Google. The search engine has in fact stated that they no longer require keyword indicators. This has led many industry experts to believe context is now king.
Another example of this can be seen in the recent Penguin update which has resulted in penalising the over-optimisation of anchor text links. In other words, anchor text links using blatant, unnatural keywords have been made void and many sites have seen a dip in rankings because of this.
With ‘context’ now taking precedence, what are the alternatives?
Put simply, all the copy on your site needs to be ‘natural’. You really shouldn’t try to tailor your copy to suit Google’s algorithms. It should be written in a ‘natural’ style where your carefully-researched keywords make a subtle appearance in the headline, and possibly in the opening and closing paragraphs of your copy. Google has got a whole lot smarter – so it might be a good idea to re-visit your existing web copy, or bring a new approach to the table with any newly-written pages. As in real life, ‘how’ you say something can often be as important as ‘what’ you say!
So do keywords have a future?
Personally, I feel that keywords will always be around – but probably playing a ‘bit-part’ role as far as SEO is concerned. For many years now, we’ve heard rumours circulating about semantic search revolutionising SEO as we know it. If semantic search was to take precedence over traditional search, it would transform the concept of SEO. To gain a real understanding of the future of search as seen by Google, take a look at their “Project Glass” video…
What do you think? Do keywords have a future? What is the future of search? We would love to know!
An interesting article Nick.
I think keywords will be relevant for some time yet. However as a writer I welcome a move back towards engaging, well-written content over the ‘insert keyword here’ approach.
I think keywords will need to be re-defined in order to stay relevant. It’s like software, to stay current, you need to keep updating / evolving.