Conventional wisdom says if you want to rank on Google, you need to focus on keywords. But is that really the case anymore? Are keywords still important? The truth is that Google is shifting away from keywords and toward topics.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are exactly what they sound like – key words that you want to rank for on Google. For example, “web design” or “digital marketing.” There are two primary types of keywords, short tail and long tail. Short tail keywords are direct and to the point – “digital marketing” – and long tail keywords are closer to phrases – “digital marketing services in Minneapolis.”
Why Shouldn’t I Use Keywords?
It’s not that you should abandon keywords entirely, but they shouldn’t be the driving force of any page or blog. Instead, you should focus on topics. For example, let’s take this blog post:
Keywords: SEO, Keywords, Google
Topic: Why focusing on topics instead of keywords can help you rank in Google
The two are very similar, but keywords are much more restrictive. By contrast, the topic gets to the core of why someone would read this blog post – they want to learn more about ranking in Google, and how they can adjust their strategy. There are a few reasons why keywords are falling by the wayside, but the major one is…
User Experience > Technical Rank
Google’s goal since its inception has been to deliver accurate, clear and authoritative results to searches. In its early days, Google had to rely on keywords to understand what a page was about. That led to a lot of painful, bloated content like:
We offer digital marketing services in the Minneapolis area. Our Minneapolis digital marketing services are the best digital marketing services in Minneapolis. If you need digital marketing in Minneapolis, we’re in Minneapolis.
In an effort to curb this type of content (which is called keyword stuffing), Google’s algorithm has been shifting more and more toward content written with the user in mind, not keywords. That means content needs to be to the point, relevant and useful to the reader.
How Do I Get Started with Topics?
The easiest way to get started with topics is to start with one primary topic and then generate clusters of themes related to that main topic. For example…
Primary Topic: SEO
Cluster Topic: advice about SEO, how does SEO work, why is SEO important, keywords or topics, how to use keywords in a blog
You would then use your cluster topics to create blog posts. A good way to come up with those cluster topics is to use tools like Google Trends that keywords that people search for in Google. Long tail keywords can often transition nicely into more concentrated topics. For example “what is SEO” could transition into a more concentrated topic like “How to Rank in Google Using SEO.”
Keywords aren’t disappearing completely, but it’s time to stop writing for bots and to start writing with humans in mind. Topics are a more natural way of conveying information that resonates with your audience.
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Rank on Google With Digital Marketing
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