Times have changed. Gone are the days when you could’ve filled your content with keywords and voila! You’re on Google’s search results.
Sadly, things aren’t that simple anymore. Google has evolved and adapted to have a better language processing engine. This has made it smarter at recognizing humanely written content.
So we need to adapt too. We have to write more organically to end up anywhere near those search results.
Google’s criteria for its search results were mainly affected by the following changes.
Panda and Penguin Attack
Amongst the four titans unleashed by Google, the first algorithm was Panda. February 2011. This marked the first sign, that we needed to up our game and refine our content. Panda limited Google’s search results by restricting content with mal-informed or duplicated content.
The next titan was a beast called Penguin. It made it harder for keyword loaded articles to survive, while at the same time rewarding content that was well written and lacked those manipulative link schemes.
A Precise, Fast, and Smart Bird
The next big thing arrived in 2013. Hummingbird.
It reformed Google’s entire search algorithm. It refined how Google viewed searches, giving it a better understanding of what it’s users wanted.
This being one of google’s primary aims of course. Hummingbird allowed Google to suggest more accurate results based on our query. Google predicts appropriate and relevant content that correlates with what you are searching, while you are searching. Google was predicting your thoughts.
The fourth most powerful Titan was RankBrain. It was their best iteration of the search algorithm to date. What made it so good? It used the help of artificial intelligence.
This type of AI uses machine learning to learn a user’s search patterns, allowing it to suggest the most accurate content. Because of user satisfaction supporting its predictions, its suggestions start becoming more and more accurate. It learns and evolves with the user. It gets better at recognizing keywords too. And thus it becomes much harder to bait google with extra keywords.
Google does not rely solely on counting keywords anymore for its search results, so why shouldn’t you do the same?
Keywords still have their importance, but you need to try much harder now if you want to end up on google’s search results.
Google Ranking Factors
Your place in google’s search results isn’t affected by a thing or two. Now we have over 200 factors that decide where you are placed.
For ease, they can be broken down into On-page and Off-page elements. These are within the control of the content creator and are also influenced by other external entities.
Google decides your relevancy based on the time people spend on your site. On if people choose to go through multiple pages or decide to make their search more accurate. And finally, do people link to your site?
What can make your content stick out in a sea of websites is that it gets what the user wants and it delivers just that. And therefore, keyword stuffing does not ensure valuable traffic.
Catering to Your Audience
Targeting a defined and specific audience is way more effective as compared to keyword targeting.
Keywords are the cherry on top. They make your bowl of ice-cream more delightful and delectable. But the bowl of ice-cream is the audience and without them, the cherry is not worth much.
Therefore, a strategic placement of keywords that targets your defined market is crucial. You need to place just the right keywords to ensure you reach the intended audience.
To find out which keywords you should use, it is important to research your audience first. You do not want to target anyone and everyone. That would be a fool’s errand.
We all strive for driving more traffic to our websites. But exactly how valuable is this traffic if it does not care about what you are saying or selling?
Traffic is only great if it is engaging. Even your site has a large number of visitors but they are not sharing, buying, or commenting, they are not helping your business. Essentially, building an audience matters more than visitors.
Generally, targeted keywords are only good at driving visitors and page views. But if you target a specific audience, they are likely to be more interested in your brand.
Who purchases your services and products the most? People who just discovered your brand through a search engine or loyal customers?
Existing customers also tend to pay more as compared to new ones and suggest your business to others. This is why customer retention is so important.
Customer retention focuses on communicating and building meaningful engagements with existing customers. It is not only more cost-effective than acquisition but also ensures better returns.
This is because loyal customers already trust your business. They are loyal because they view your brand as a relationship. On the other hand, a visitor who found your site through a Google search is not attached to your brand already. SEO traffic will enter and leave without blinking.
The only way to build an “audience” is by connecting with your loyal customers on a human level. Keywords will not work here. The only way to build trust is by interacting with your audience via social media, providing personable content, and asking questions.
While keywords do have a slight influence on SEO ranking, they do not play a huge role in content marketing anymore. Just like everything, they are good in small amounts, as SEO these days is way more complicated than keyword stuffing.
Conducting a thorough research of your niche and paying attention to satisfying search intent is key to effective content marketing and search engine optimization. After all, keywords are nothing without the person searching for them on Google.
To conclude, it is important for content marketers to constantly update their strategies in accordance with the ever-changing digital world.