In this blog, Francesco Brizzo, Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at The B2B Marketing Lab, questions whether keyword optimisation is still important for SEO and all the benefits that a well optimised website brings you.
As SEO professionals, we hear comments like “traditional SEO is dead” and “you should move away from keyword optimisation”, almost every week.
But is there any truth to these statements? In our minds, no.
When we think about what’s worked for us and our clients until now, we always think about the main pillar of on-page SEO: keyword optimisation. It’s a core part of any content you create and, we think, it still is.
So, when people claim that this tried-and-tested approach is no longer effective we are, of course, a little dubious.
Let me explain why.
Should we stop optimising content for keywords?
The short answer is no, and the reason is simple.
SEO changes with updates to search engine algorithms, so as search engine algorithms evolve, your content optimisation practices should evolve too.
However, how search engines are structured and the approach to optimisation remain the same. After all, Google wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect the fundamentals to change too quickly.
So, instead of asking the above, the question should be:
Has keyword optimisation for SEO changed?
In this case, the short answer is: yes, a lot.
There are more challenges than in the past, certainly, but keywords are still of vital importance. They should always be the main part of on-page SEO. Also, as search engines incorporate artificial intelligence, the job of SEO professionals becomes more complex and so too are the variables they need to take into account. The point is not to stop using keywords, but to use them differently.
Below I’ve shared my five top keyword optimisation tips that make choosing and incorporating keywords into copy much easier.
TIP 1 -
Do your keyword research before writing.
You should always do some keyword research before you start.
Choose a topic that you feel confident writing about, identify what people search for using keyword research tools and check the search volume associated.
Personally, I love Moz Keyword Explorer and BrightEdge DataCube but you can certainly use Google Ads Keyword Planner or one of the free tools you can find online such as Answer The Public, AlsoAsked.com or keyword.io.
TIP 2 -
Think topics, not just keywords.
Search engines are much smarter than they were in the past: they can work out what you are good at! Nowadays, it’s all about building trust – so why not take a topic you excel at and write a lot of content about it?
You can use keyword research to identify what questions people are asking and use those questions to form sub topics related to a central pillar piece. This is an essential part of an SEO-based content strategy. (Read this blog on topic clusters to learn more)
TIP 3 -
Don't spam keywords. Keep it natural.
Repeating a keyword to achieve the appropriate keyword density no longer works.
Google (and other search engines) rewards content that flows naturally. After all, search engines want to share content that’s easy to read.
So, before you choose a target keyword, decide what you want to write about and if you have enough unique insights or knowledge to share. Content needs to answer questions and provide solutions – not spam keywords!
TIP 4 -
Don't just look at the traditional search results
Google has started to show results in different forms and optimising for these is crucial as they often appear above the standard results on page one.
Having a blog featured in a search snippet, the “People also ask”, or the “video” section of a search results page will not only help you to stand out from competitors but also be recognised as an expert.
TIP 5 -
Think about user intent. From keywords to voice queries
One of the hot topics for SEO in 2019 (it has been a hot topic since 2017) is the impact of voice search.
Now, I’m not saying you should not move away from text-based search – it’ll always be crucial – just that voice search is becoming an important piece of the marketing mix and you cannot ignore it.
Targeting voice queries is a little different; you have to think about what the user intent is and what they might say after “OK, Google”, “Hi Siri” or “Hello Alexa”.
In that sense, keywords are becoming much more conversational, much more human. Questions delivered via voice search are detailed and extensive – providing context greater than standard search queries.
However, never forget where you started from: your content is the answer to that and behind your content, there are your keywords.
As SEO is constantly evolving, though slow and progressive, SEO professionals must regularly learn new skills in order to keep up. The basics remain the same but how they are applied continues to change.
Whoever works in the industry must know and understand the basics before digging deeper; it’s integral to their own success and the success of the content they create.
Now that SEO is out of the way - what about the rest of your marketing activities? Don't worry - we've got you covered. Just download our free eBook below - 'The B2B Inbound Marketing Manager's Playbook' - to get all the information you need to be successful.