Updating Your Keyword Strategy

keyword-strategyUser Intent

When Google’s Keyword Planner replaced the Keyword Tool, I was surprised to say the least. Why is this happening, I wondered? How will this change the work I do for my SEO company? How will it affect our SEO rankings?

It’s not so much that the importance of keywords has changed, it’s more that Google has wised up and changed their algorithm to recognize unnatural keyword usage. After years of black and gray hat SEO companies’ keyword stuffing and waiting for Google updates to manipulate the system, Google’s focus has shifted to natural content. Long tail keyphrases are now what Google responds to.

Keywords from the early days of SEO used to be more robotic because search was less refined than it is today. What with the prevalence of mobile search and the rise of voice-activated searches, colloquial searches are increasingly common. Google’s Hummingbird update is a response to these changes.

Meanwhile, those shady companies waiting to scam the system instead of providing users with quality content are losing out—their focus is in the wrong place. Instead of focusing on keyword percentage per post, bloggers should be thinking about user intent, what users are seeking and where they go to get their answers.

New Keyword Research

Keyword Planner is definitely helpful when doing research for terms and phrases to use in a marketing campaign, but more generally, bloggers should consider doing more research about what they’re trying to rank for and how to answer questions their audience has.

Following this practice will help you focus on content for people, not Google bots. Detailed answers to the questions your blog audience asks will lead Google bots to naturally index your posts. All those guidelines about how to write for the latest SEO updates don’t really matter.

The only guideline you should follow is common-sensical: the post should be at least three hundred words, and ideally more than a thousand. Google defines a well-answered question in terms of length. Bullet points can be helpful, and so can header tags, in order to organize and classify your post, encouraging skimming and easy-access information, much like a Wiki page.

Be Specific

Keywords such as “digital marketing agency” get a lot of traffic. Geo-targeting them is one way to specify what your company is promoting. But think also about long-tail keyphrases before you sit down to write content for your site. User intent is becoming a buzzword in many SEO companies, but it really means focusing on a specific topic so that when people search, they will find your article. For example, some small businesses search for “digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO,” or “middle-tier digital marketing agency.” By using and defining these phrases in content, you’re more likely to rank for those long-tail keyphrases that are quickly becoming so much more common.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/byronnewmedia/5374318514/sizes/m/

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