Importance of Keywords
What are keywords?
Keywords are blocks of text that help search engines identify the topics that your content explores. Algorithms have sophisticated systems for analyzing the keywords that users employ in their queries as well as the terms that are used throughout a given piece of content. This helps them match the user with the content that will best answer their needs.
How has keyword usage changed over the years?
Before semantic search, keywords were the primary means of communicating to search engines the topics you were covering. Generally, the more often you used the keyword, the more relevant your content appeared. Unfortunately, this led to practices such as keyword stuffing that were designed to trick the search engine and ended up hurting the user experience.
In an effort to better understand user queries and the topics on websites, Google introduced various updates over the past few years that were designed to better understand the concepts within the query and website. This has resulted in a shift in keyword usage.
This does not mean that keywords are obsolete. They are still used by the search engines to better understand the topics that are being covered, but they are looked at as a part of a larger picture. Instead of pulling out keywords, the search engines look at how various topics are related to better understand the content that your material covers and how it relates to various queries. They are thus able to return more relevant and applicable search results for users, enhancing the user experience.
How do I use keywords in the age of semantic search?
Since you know that Google is not looking to match a string of data in a query with a string of data in a particular article, you do not need to stress about including certain keywords a minimum number of times in your piece. Instead, you should use keyword research to familiarize yourself with the topics that seems to have the most importance for your target audience.
Once you have identified the topics, you can make enhancements within your content in order to show relevance to the search engine and to the user scanning the results on the SERPs. You should use your keyword in the title, H2 headings, the meta description, and occasionally throughout the content, provided it is natural in all of these instances. You should also look into including semantically similar keywords. An example of semantically similar keywords would be the phrases ‘laptop repair’ and ‘fix a broken laptop.’ This will help Google’s new semantic algorithm see your content as more related to the topic at hand.
Keywords are not obsolete in modern SEO, but the best practices have changed. The cornerstone of successful keyword usage is to keep the focus on sounding helpful and natural while creating content around topics that you know interest your intended readers.