Are Keywords Still Relevant? An Expert Weighs In

Are Keywords Still Relevant? An Expert Weighs In

Keywords have been a central part of content marketing since the genesis of search engines. Keyword research has been used to determine what people are searching for and what content to create, fueling the need for more content and better search engines. 

It’s hard to think of a time when keywords haven’t been standard practice in digital marketing. But are keywords still relevant? Here’s what you need to know.

Are Keywords Still Relevant for Content Marketing?

The short answer is yes; keywords are still relevant. They play an important role in helping search engines categorize websites so they can connect users with valuable and relevant content. 

To understand why keywords are still relevant, you need to know how they are used.

How Keywords are Used

Even though search engines like Google — rather, especially Google — are tight-lipped about how their algorithms work, the collaborative and open nature of digital marketing has allowed users to discover some truths about the mysterious algorithm that fuels modern information culture. 

Keywords are essential to how search engines categorize and prioritize web content. Obviously, a lot goes into the ranking system, but the matter remains that keywords play a central role in ranking. 

When search engines crawl your website, they scan the written content to discover what it is about and how it is meant to be used. Crawlers will then use those keywords to categorize your website according to the type of information it provides. 

Thus, websites with many plumbing-related keywords like “clogged toilet” or “leaking pipe” are categorized together and shown on the same search engine results page.

Why They are Important

Ultimately, if you want to get users to your website, you need the right keywords to tell search engines what kind of users you want. This is why and how keywords are used; to communicate the content you have on your website to search engines and searchers alike. 

To sum it all up, if you don’t have keywords on your website, you won’t rank for the things you want to rank on.

If you are worried that you aren’t using keywords on your website, you probably don’t need to. You probably have dozens of keywords scattered around your website without knowing it. Knowing how to use those keywords to a more significant effect is what separates mediocre content marketing from expert content marketing. 

Irrelevant Keyword Practices

There are still a lot of misconceptions about how to use keywords. Many companies engage in outdated keyword practices that ultimately harm their standings on search engines

Here are some outdated keyword tactics to avoid.

Exact Matches

While putting exact keyword matches isn’t necessarily bad, you don’t need to fit keywords the way you discover them in your keyword research. 

As a general rule, try to use your keywords, especially long-tail keywords, precisely as you discover them. This will provide the greatest benefit for the overall ranking of your content on search engines. 

What happens if you have trouble fitting the keyword into your blog exactly as you find it? Well, you don’t have to worry. Google updated its algorithm in 2017, which allows it to match close variants with keywords.

This means that you can add or ignore functional words like “as,” “to,” or “from” without having to worry about Google not being able to match it with your primary keyword. You can also reword functioning words and reorder words without concern. 

Keyword Stuffing

To put it simply, keyword stuffing is the practice of using keywords an obnoxious amount. This practice dates back to the early days of Google when it was discovered that the more a keyword was mentioned on your website, the more likely it would be ranked higher in search results.

Including keywords in your content is essential, but you shouldn’t use keywords where they do not naturally fit. 

If you engage in keyword stuffing, you will find that it has a direct, negative impact on your SEO.

Jump to the bottom of the blog to the keyword best practices section to learn how many times you can use a keyword for it to be considered keyword stuffing.

Irrelevant Keywords

Using irrelevant keywords is detrimental to your SEO. This means that if you use words that don’t accurately pertain to your company, you could be hurting your rankings.

An example of using irrelevant keywords would be using branded keywords to try and get your website to rank above your competitors. Google will see that those keywords have nothing to do with your company and will purposefully lower your ranking for those keywords. 

Using irrelevant keywords can have spillover effects on other keywords you’re trying to rank for, so avoid doing it as much as possible. 

Hidden Content

Hidden content is any content that is not visible to human readers. This includes white-on-white text, text behind images, or text too small to be read. 

Hiding content on your webpage can get your website penalized on search engines. Avoid any dishonest practices that involve adding content only for search engines.

Keyword Best Practices

Less is more — Be Deliberate On Keyword Choice

Remember to be deliberate about the keywords you choose to include in your web content when doing your keyword research.

Trying to incorporate as many keywords as possible will confuse search engines about the purpose of your website. Instead, choose a handful of keywords to use in your content. 

Use your carefully culled keywords in strategic places on your website so crawlers have an easy time determining what your content is about. 

There are four primary areas you need to use keywords in your content:

  1. Title
  2. The first 100 words
  3. At least one header (besides the title and CTA section header)
  4. CTA section header

Other than that, use the keyword in ways that sound natural. Use variants as needed. 

Use Natural-Sounding Language

Remember that you are writing your content to be read by humans and not primarily by search engines. Yes, there are some best practices we need to employ so that search engines can properly categorize our content, but don’t make search engines your primary audience.

One of the factors that determine how to rank your content in search results is the amount of traffic you get to your website and the amount of time people spend there. 

If you write your content for crawlers, you may get search engines to boost your standings temporarily, but you probably won’t get those who stumble across your website to stay for any meaningful amount of time. 

Write to retain. Make sure your content is captivating for a human audience. Doing this will be much better for your SEO in the long run.

Focus on Intention – Rise of Search Intent Optimization

Google is getting better at determining the intent of users. You can use this to your advantage by tailoring your content to match the purpose you want your audience to have. 

There are four traditional reasons people make a Google search. They are:

  1. Navigational Queries – users are looking for something specific
  2. Informational Queries – users are looking for information
  3. Commercial Queries – users compare products or companies
  4. Transactional Queries – users want to purchase or do something

Google has a similar list. Those are:

  1. Know Queries – users want information (informational)
  2. Do Queries – users want to do something (transactional)
  3. Website Queries – users are looking for something specific (navigational)
  4. Visit-in-person Queries – users want to visit a physical place

Do your best to match your content to these kinds of queries.

Utilize Revity’s Keyword and Content Marketing Mastery

If you’re uncertain how to use keywords or how to start your content marketing, we can probably help. Here at Revity Marketing, we have a team of trained wordsmiths capable and ready to help you.

If you want to launch your own content marketing strategy, we’re ready to get you where you want to go! Contact us today to learn more about how our digital marketing services can help your company thrive.

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Jarrett Webster

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