In part of one of this guide, we covered how important it was to stay in front of the trends that are gaining steam as we head into 2016. Staying ahead of the curve and even jumping it a bit in some experimental ways will help your site maintain its ranking and expand its audience while competitors are still stuck all the way back in 2016! Part 2 will be about how keywords and content are changing and how they both continue to intertwine despite changes in Google’s algorithm.

Understanding keywords, content, and how they link together

In the Old West days of SEO, untamed websites existed outside of the law (or worse, well within misguided laws!) and subsisted solely on keywords. The SEO sheriffs of the day identified which words people were searching for and filled those sites with as many keywords as possible (a dinosaur of a technique known as “stuffing”) in the hopes of gaining position #1. The worst part was that it worked.

Thankfully those days are gone, and keyword stuffing just doesn’t work anymore.

Keywords are changing and so is the function of Google itself. Instead of answering words Google is trying to answer intent, and this is changing how keywords and content interrelate. There’s been talk that keywords are dead. That is false. The reality is that they are changing, and if you under how they are changing, then you can take advantage of it and reap the benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

Intent over keywords

The idea of user intent over raw keywords is nothing new. In a world where users are far savvier than they were even just a few years ago, trying to solve their actual queries has long been a goal of Google’s. Intent over keywords simply means trying to give the user the information that they are actually look for rather than matching up the results just to the meaning of each individual word.

More and more queries are containing long-tail keywords, and trying to compete over terms like “lawyer” or “doctor” is almost pointless at this juncture.

The key to success in 2017 is understanding Google’s shift toward intent and trying to parse out ideas from your user’s intended desires.

The solution

The solution is even more in-depth research into your customer base and determining which keywords they are actually using to find you. This means:

  • Focusing more on terms that actually drive action (like “buy”) instead of low-hanging fruit (terms with low competition)
  • Optimizing your pages for terms related to your main keywords that also drive action
  • Optimizing your landing pages and site to appeal to those who are most in the mood to buy
  • Using intent based logic to brainstorm more content ideas

The importance of focusing your content solely around keywords is diminishing, and more importance is being placed on providing quality useful information.

Use this information to create a plan

Success in SEO in 2017 means treating your content and keywords on a level playing field instead of basing one around the other. That doesn’t mean they should interlink, though. Find as many actionable keywords related to you as you can and build a content plan around it. Brainstorm ideas that are related to those keywords too. Don’t just stick to “personal injury attorney in Ontario”, create content that is based around solving the problems (and therefore searches) of people who might be searching for that terms like:

  • Am I eligible for a legal settlement from my injury?
  • Is my employer at fault for an injury at work?
  • How much does an attorney take in fees?

Understanding the decreasing importance of keywords themselves and instead focusing on the intent that users have will help you create content that drives results in the coming year. You need to get more creative and solve more issues for your users. That doesn’t mean that keywords don’t matter. They do matter, just not the way they used to.