Anyone who owns a website or who are just starting an online business from home knows all about conducting keyword research. It is standard practice but is information relevance now becoming more important.
Ranking factors are made up of over 200 pieces in a jigsaw puzzle and keywords are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting your site’s position established in the SERPS.
Taking that into consideration plus the fact that Google is constantly making changes to its algorithms, I ask you “Is Keyword Research Outdated” when applied for SEO?
Should we now be more concerned about Information relevance
Let’s Dig Deeper!!
What Is Replacing Keyword Research?
Topic or Information Relevance.
I’m sure you are now wondering why I am making such a bold statement and suggesting that keyword research is an outdated practice.
The answer comes from Google itself in the form of it’s 2013 Hummingbird algorithm update.
This update was designed to use “semantic search,” which in a nutshell means that search engines are becoming more and more intelligent and capable of understanding the “motive” behind the user’s query and being able to show the nearest relevant content that comes closest to what Google believes will best inform the user as to what they want to know.
So what happens now is, Exact Keyword matches are overlooked in favour of keywords/phrases that become associated with the query that may not have even been optimised or intentionally included in the post or page.
The more Topic Relevance the content contains the more chance that Google will pick up Keywords that are relevant to the surfers’ query.
Technology Is Transforming Keyword Research
Google’s Hummingbird algorithm cannot be solely blamed for the influence of the “Maybe” decrease in keyword research.
There are also major shifts in technology and digital solutions that are simplifying the more common and complex way we go about every day tasks.
Voice-activated personal assistants such as Amazon’s “Alexa“ and Google’s own “Home” are changing the way people search for information and even products.
With these devices evolving as they are and being able to interact with Smartphones, Smart TV’s or your laptop, it isn’t going to be too far into the future that people will rely on these commodities to interact with the Internet.
Voice search is going to become the next big thing
When you consider that keyword relevance is changing in such humungous ways because of the Hummingbird algorithm and the advancements in search technology and you combine that with the large impact that the Panda algorithm had on the content issue, how does this all add up for keywords in the future?
Is The New Keyword Research, Topic Relevance?
Since Google set out their Hummingbird algorithm back in 2013, top entrepreneurs all over the world have been keeping a close eye on how this latest change in ranking factors would pan out and alter the search perspective.
To date, many studies have been carried out by top digital marketers on the matter and to that end, most of them came up with very similar conclusions.
In fact, Neil Patel in conjunction with Moz and SEMrush conducted his own keyword study of more than 200,000 data points.
It makes for very interesting reading, he assessed that ” top-ranked blogs did not necessarily have high keyword saturation, keyword representation or lots of high DA backlinks“.
What they did have was very comprehensive content. In-depth content that gave the very answer that the surfer was looking for.
Your focus now has to be on Topic Research more than Keyword Research.
For years now, ever since Google introduced the Panda algorithm they have been reiterating that content has to be written for human beings and not search engines.
Content has always been the mainstay of SEO strategies, but it is now more important than ever.
Success now lies with the most in-depth explanation of the question that your audience is asking.
So what are the important things to consider when writing these new Topic-focused posts?
You have to ask yourself, What is going to make a reader stay on my blog? Is the information I am giving them extensive enough for what they are searching for? What actions do I want them to take?
These are all questions you should be asking before you start to create your post.
The future of page 1 ranking is transferring from keyword phrases to intent.
You may well do your keyword research and come up with high volume, low competition key phrase and write a really good blog, but you are now up against another blog that doesn’t necessarily rank for the keyphrase but Google sees it as good enough “intent” to rank it higher.
In other words, the other blog has given a better definition of what the surfer is looking for.
Topic relevance is fast becoming the new focus for ranking and therefore it is vital that you give your readers a more in-depth view on topics pertaining to your keyword/phrase with Long Form Content.
Long Form Content.
Let’s define what Long Form Content is so that we are all singing from the same song sheet.
It is widely agreed that long-form content would be anything that exceeds 1,200-1,500 words.
As the semantic search continues to grow in intelligence in the way that it recognizes user intent, keyword relevance is going to continue to fall from grace.
But looking on the bright side that means topical relevance is set to become more important.
The structure of long-form content must involve an in-depth look at a specific topic because people want to know “Why”.
It is no longer sufficient to say “this is the best of..” people want to know why it is the best of.
If that information can be covered within 1,200-1,500 words then great but it may also take 10,000 words to give an in-depth analysis.
The word count is not necessarily the defining factor here, it is the quality and depth of the article that constitutes it as Long Form Content.
I should also point out that long form content isn’t only about filling pages with text, it can be versatile by adding images video’s etc.
One of the best examples of Long Form Content is Neil Patel’s ‘The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking’, every aspect of Growth Hacking is broken down into 10 chapters, with a definitive guide to each part, Long Form Content.
So is keyword research obsolete?
Stress Not. . .
I am not going to categorically state that Keyword Research is outdated, it certainly is not.
Keyword research will still be a major factor in realising what the surfer is searching for and will still be a prominent factor in Headlines, tags etc.
But now trying to rank for well-researched Keywords takes on a different dimension, because Google now puts more emphasis on the in-depth creation of the content surrounding that high volume low competition keyword/phrase than the exact phrase itself.
This is now more important to get your article ranked.
Do I think that keyword research will eventually be a spent force for SEO? Who knows. We are in the hands of the big G for that one but since SEO is shifting from exact keyword to Topic relevance, it’s fairly safe to say that someday it will.
Albeit surfers will still have to type in phrases to find the information they are looking for.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the future, just concentrate on what is current, and at this moment in time that is focusing on creating awesome content that covers a topic in depth and caters to the user’s intent.
Get in on the conversation, What are your views on keyword research, will it fade into obscurity?
Leave your comments below.