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Keywords have fallen from grace, but they’re nowhere near dead

The tattered rags hanging off the broken frame. The nervous sidle into the corner of the eye. The virtual arms reaching out for a crumb of recognition. Keywords have fallen from SEO grace, misused and abused by those who wanted to shoot to the top of Google’s rankings at any cost. A cost too high for even the keyword to carry as bulging pages stuffed with repeated words and so-called experts pretending to claim the ultimate insider knowledge ripped at its foundations.

In short, bad service providers, fake SEO experts and a lack of understanding around their impact and capability have seriously hampered the reputation of both the keyword and SEO.

The worst kind of keyword fraud is committed by service providers who sell a SEO service, but don’t implement SEO on the selected keyword phrases. They use elements such as complaints, reviews and testimonials to drive up a company’s online presence. There’s no science or skill involved. And to really eke out true value from your keyword, science and skill are both needed.

Today, you need an understanding of the algorithms that dominate search engines, when changes to these algorithms occur and how best to adjust your strategy to take these changes into account.

The age of Google Panda

Before the Google Panda algorithm, webmasters would stuff keywords into website pages to achieve top ranking. The content was poorly written, didn’t offer up much in the way of value to the reader and was limited in quality.

After Google Panda was released and rolled out, webmasters were forced to write high quality content with a keyword density of 2-3%, using keyword synonyms instead of just direct keywords.

Keywords help your market to understand your business, drive traffic and answer questions

Now content truly has become queen as it focuses on questions and answers, provides users with what they need, and delivering real results to search queries.

For those who want Google Panda, and other search algorithms, to find them they need to use keywords that not only have high search results, but that will provide traffic in the future.

Keywords help your market to understand your business, drive traffic and answer questions — they come in the long and short tail format, and they are inspired by the synonym. The goal is to create useful, compelling and valuable content that targets specific keywords, but that is also interesting enough to inspire others to share it across other platforms.

Sharing not only increases the authority and relevance of your content, but it improves your Google ranking for the selected keywords. When your content is highly recommended, Google marks it as relevant and your SEO results improve. Great content gets the right attention from the right markets.

The dawn of AI

One of the biggest trends influencing keywords today is artificial intelligence (AI).

This technology is being implemented across search and can track keywords and content and phrases intelligently across a multitude of platforms and devices. As it evolves, it will add a new layer to the potential of great keywords and great content, providing users with comparative reviews, content that maps back to their highly specialised search results and greater accuracy in responses.

As it continues its move towards richer data absorption and learning, AI will introduce shopping destinations, suggestions, links to further insights and more – every aspect creating an ecosystem of content around the humble keyword.

It has never been a better time to polish off the keyword, to drag it out of its shame and into a far more precise landscape where its relevance can put the business back on the search map. All it needs is a bit of attention and a lot of finesse.

Feature image: Luis Osorio via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, resized)

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