Yes! They still matter and are definitely still a factor when it comes to ranking pages in search engines. But the fact of the matter is that keywords are not the most important component of SEO, and they never have been. As search engine algorithms evolve and become smarter, SEO factors will continue to balance out and SERP landscapes will continue to change.
Before we continue, let’s define what a keyword means in the context above. We are not talking about any search query, rather we are referencing more exact match, short tail keywords.
Again, keywords matter, but let’s dive into other ranking factors and how search engines are different in 2021 than they ever have been.
I’ve talked to so many clients that get so hung up on what is the perfect keyword that they should be using across their webpage or even website. My advice to them is to not get hung up on a single keyword. Rather, they should be looking at the searcher’s intent. What questions are the users asking and how do you best answer that question.
When I first started helping website owners optimize their sites for search engines, my mentor advised me to optimize a single webpage for a single keyword. It was good advice at the time, but I think it has evolved into optimizing a single page to answer a single question. Obviously, this won’t apply to all websites and pages, but it’s a good rule of thumb.
This is really where SEO’s get to have their fun. It’s much more than pulling data and SERP results. Take the time to really dive into the research and do a thorough competitor analysis. Really understand what people are asking, how they are asking, what the market leaders are doing to answer those questions, and how you can
Quality Over Quantity
It’s common to find marketers that want to pump out as many blog posts and articles as they can on a consistent basis. While that is totally worthwhile, it needs to be done strategically. It’s not about the number of blog posts you put on your website, it’s all about the quality of your content.
You want to avoid thin or duplicate content. Make sure your blogs and content have enough length and information. SEO should always be about establishing your brand on the E.A.T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, & Trustworthiness) principles.
It’s also just as important to go back and update older content. Find outdated blog posts and update the information and provide more information. User’s are much more likely to look at a blog post that was updated/published in the last couple of years than if it was published a decade ago.
Also, take the time to test the performance and user experience. Make sure all the links and buttons work correctly, the images are loading quickly, and that everything looks good on mobile.
How your website is organized is often overlooked. You want your website to flow easily and for the user’s path to make sense. If a service or product page is hard to find or doesn’t direct users towards a conversion action, you will see poor performance.
Create a solid hierarchy for your content. Your homepage will obviously be at the top and be the highest level view of your brand. Then create your topics, sub topics, and specific content destinations. This concept even trickles down to your blog posts. The title should address the main question, and your sub-titles and headlines should address the secondary and tertiary subjects.
Again, make sure you have enough quality content throughout the page. Don’t just rely on your written content, include user generated content, reviews, testimonials, and anything else that will position your brand as an expert and credible resource (E.A.T.)
It’s also important to experiment with different content. SEO may move a bit slower than other marketing channels, but just like any marketing channel, it is fluid and constantly changing. Pay attention to consumer trends, listen to your marketing and sales team, practice social listening, and hear what your customers are saying.
Take all that information and adapt. Apply it to your title tags, headlines, meta descriptions, collection summaries, etc.
Zero click searches are becoming more and more popular especially as voice assistants continue to grow in popularity. By focusing on search intent, the quality of your content, and the structure of your site, your web pages will be more likely to appear in the rich results. It’s not enough to rely on the strength and popularity of your domain, your individual webpages need to stand alone – especially as featured snippets and other rich results become more popular.
If you have updated and optimized your content, and you still find that your web pages are stuck in the rankings after several weeks, the problem will almost certainly be technical. Run an audit and address all of the technical issues that come back (i.e. site speed, Href lang., indexability, etc) and you are almost guaranteed to see immediate results.
If you don’t know how to find or fix those technical issues, we are more than happy to help!