Keyword research is a key component of any search engine optimization campaign. This is what most SEO professionals will tell you. Most of the time, I agree with this statement. The right selection of target keywords can make all the difference in your long-term success.
Over the years, however, SEO professionals have distorted the importance of keywords. Some practitioners have made keywords their top priority or focused almost exclusively on optimizing keywords for their campaigns.
Can you focus too heavily on keywords in your search engine strategies?
The short answer to that question is yes. It could even cause more harm than good if you have tunnel vision about keywords.
Before we get into the issue of SEO keywords being too focused, it is important to understand the purpose keywords serve. What is a keyword? Why are they important?
Google is the most trusted search engine for most searches. To see the results, you simply type in a phrase or word into the search bar. You are typing in a keyword or a phrase.
This is crucial because search optimizers can target specific audiences. Do you have a hotdog stand? It would be great if your website was ranked high for keywords like “hotdog stand near me” or “hotdog vendor nearby” – however, the keyword landscape has changed.
In the early days of Google, a website could practically guarantee a rank one ranking by simply spamming the same keyword on their website. Google’s algorithms today are more advanced.
They can detect unnatural language, keyword spam, and other black-hat tactics. Google also strongly discourages keyword stuffing and encourages webmasters instead to create natural, high-quality content.
However, optimizers do at least some keyword research to guide the campaign. It is important to determine search volume to assess the popularity of search phrases. Also, it is crucial to analyze the competition to find the most valuable keywords to target.
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For many reasons, the value of researching and focusing your efforts on specific keywords has declined.
The advancement of Google’s semantic searching capabilities has been the biggest factor. The Hummingbird update introduced semantic search in 2013. It is Google’s way to analyze the intent behind your search query rather than just the words you used.
These capabilities allow Google to look beyond the keywords that search users enter. Instead, it analyzes the phrasing and other phrases and attempts to determine what the user is looking for. It is no longer as effective to focus on a keyword.
Google is more strict in its content evaluations and penalization system. Google can penalize websites that violate its terms and conditions or provide a poor user experience. It is a bad idea for your website to include keywords at a certain frequency or volume.
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The most competitive keywords are the head keywords. These are the common and short keywords that are most likely to be searched for. Companies that have been around for decades spend millions optimizing their websites to be the first to rank for these terms.
These companies are unlikely to be direct competitors, so it is less attractive to focus keyword optimization (at the very least on head keywords).
You’ll face the following risks if your strategy is too focused on keywords or you don’t properly use keywords:
Keyword research can be exhausting. It is possible to spend hours searching for keywords that are right for you, but only a few keywords are worth your time. You’ll spend more time and effort trying to find the right keywords for your website.
Don’t forget that time and effort are not just an inconvenience, but also an expense. This can increase the cost of your whole campaign and threaten your return on investment (ROI).
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Keyword stuffing and other related tactics almost always lead to poor content. SEO professionals often get too focused on their keywords and force them into the headline.
They also force them into the body, where they shouldn’t be, and use unnatural phrases to hit the target. This not only doesn’t give you better results but also disrupts your readers.
Keywords are the most important consideration when it comes to SEO. It takes a lot of effort to find the best keywords. What happens if a competitor takes over? What happens if search volume drops? You can adapt, but your poor choices could cost you a lot of money and time.
Being extremely competitive in your keyword selections, optimization strategy and other activities will make you more attractive to similar highly competitive players. The low-hanging fruits are more affordable and easier to find, while the high-profile keyword purists become exhausted.
SEO isn’t just about search traffic. People are also interested in how to monetize that search traffic. For example, by making visitors watch ads or selling more products.
Astringent, uncompromising keyword optimization strategy won’t help you convert your visitors. It may cause people to leave.
Google does not publish keyword ranking data. Although you can do your searches to determine where you rank, or you can use a third-party tool that helps you understand how you rank across all categories, there are limitations to what you can achieve.
Many keyword-happy purists see worse results. They rank lower overall, get less traffic, and, as a bonus, have reputation problems due to their low-quality content.
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Does this mean that you should stop keyword research and keyword optimization?
Not at all. Keywords serve many important functions. They help you understand your primary demographics’ search behavior, allow you to analyze your competition’s search presence, and provide overall direction for your campaign.
Long-tail keywords phrases are less competitive than their head keyword counterparts. This allows small businesses with smaller budgets to be more competitive.
The following areas are where keywords play a crucial role:
Keywords are still relevant to your content, but your article should not be altered to include specific terms.
Your overall digital marketing strategy should not be limited to SEO. Your overall success will depend on your investments in SEO, email marketing, Social Media Marketing, and other marketing channels.
SEO keywords aren’t as relevant today as they were in the past. They are no longer the only factor that will determine whether or not your campaign succeeds.
You also can’t trust them to make your campaign successful. It is essential to understand and temper expectations if you want to succeed with keywords and SEO campaigns in general.
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