Are Keywords Important for SEO?

A close look at a woman searching in Google.

Short answer

Heck yeah, keywords are important for SEO.

My entire publishing business is built on choosing the right keywords.

My MO is to look for low competition keywords so they rank easily.  This isn’t the only way to go about it, but it works for me.  Another way is to go after more lucrative keywords but then do some serious off-page SEO like link building and promotion.  Both strategies work.

What does a “good” keyword mean?

A good keyword is one that meets your objective.

For me, that’s any keyword relevant to the niche site that I can rank.  Since I monetize with ads, if I rank and get traffic, that’s a good keyword… assuming it’s relevant to the niche.  If I targeted the keyword “basketball shoes” on this site, even if I ranked it, that would come off as strange.

For another online publisher, a good keyword could be one with buyer intent behind it.  What this means is that it’s a keyword that when people are searching it, are close to actually buying something.  These are great keywords for affiliate marketing (which I also do).

And yet another good keyword is one that helps local businesses get new local customers or clients.

Can you have multiple keyword objectives?

Yes, and this can be very good. You can definitely publish a site with lots of content targeting many low competition keywords plus publish content targeting more lucrative keywords.  In fact, this can be a terrific approach.

Why are long tail keywords important for SEO?

Interestingly, long tail keywords are ideal for both easy ranking opportunities and buyer intent keywords.

Usually, low competition keywords are long tail.  Often strong buyer intent is long tail.

For example, the keyword “are keywords important for SEO?” is long tail and low competition.  It doesn’t get searched much each month but it has very little competition (hence this article).

Conversely, the keyword “best keyword research software for fashion bloggers” is long tail but also has a great deal of buyer intent behind it.  Anyone searching that keyword is on the verge of signing up for some keyword research software.

Regardless, keywords are important for your SEO efforts.  Just be sure to choose keywords that meet your objective.

Long answer…

Something most people get confused about, especially when they’re just starting to write content for the Web, is keywords and how important they can be for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. Because affiliate marketing relies heavily on content, mainly blog posts and reviews, SEO is a major component of becoming a successful affiliate marketer. After all, you can do all the self-promotion of your site you want, but unless you’re pulling in substantial traffic from search engines like Google, you’re probably not going to get very far.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand keywords and how crucial they can be for SEO. When it comes to search engines, Google is the one you want to pay attention to the most and your goal should be to get your blog posts, reviews, and web pages somewhere on Google’s search engine results pages (preferably on the first page). Why? It’s simple, the search engine sees 3.5 billion searches per day.

One of the major arguments taking place among SEO experts is the relevance of keywords, especially in comparison to topics. The questioning of keyword relevancy has stemmed from the fact that Google is learning how to understand natural language. In fact, the search engine is so adept at this that it can identify similar words and phrases within search queries; making the way you word your content when targeting a specific term less important.

However, with all of this being said, keywords are still an important element for helping you rank better on search engines. In order to understand why, we think it’s best to discuss what has changed in regards to SEO, specifically for Google.

Understanding How SEO Has Changed

Think about pagerank. It isn’t gone, but it did go from being the first thing to think about to only one of the hundreds of factors used by Google when they ranking stories. Now, those factors are looked through to help a company decide how they can get to the top of Google. There are things like content quality, inbound links, outbound links, shares on social media, ease-of-use, and website design.

You also need to think about keyword placement over frequency. It is still important to get long-tail keywords within a title, subheadings, URL, meta descriptions, and image descriptions. Short tail keyword placement is also important. When you think of frequency, you need to worry less. You don’t need to repeat a keyword a bunch of times throughout the content anymore. This is not a method that works anymore. It actually might hurt your content.

You should also think about semantic search over the keywords. Long tail and short tail keywords have been around for a while. Long-tail keywords are longer than three words and are more effective because they target a specific search. But now, Google uses semantics search, which filters out the meaning of your words.

Here is an example: If you have an organic dog treat website in New York City and you don’t use the words “affordable dog treats,” but your product is still affordable, your website would still pop up in a search. This is because Google can now figure out if the dog treats on your website are affordable or not.

A close look at someone using Google Analytics on his tablet and laptop.

What Will SEO Look Like in The Future?

We will still be using keywords because they are still important when it comes to SEO. Despite this, SEO marketing will continue to change because Google is getting smarter at going through various content. But, this will happen over a long period of time, so there is no need to worry just yet.

Questioning The Relevance of Keywords in SEO

Google has made a lot of changes in the last few years in order to make it easier for people to search. Keywords are not used in organic search data within Google analytics. There have been websites that have suffered from using too many keywords when creating links. They have even punished companies who have used keywords inside of their domain. Despite this, keywords are still important.

An average person searching Google won’t type “I want to find a book about cooking.” Normally, someone will search “cookbooks” or “books about cooking.” People still use keywords when they are searching on various search engines. We don’t type out full sentences or paragraphs when we are searching for something. This is why keywords are still important.

Google Adwords keyword planner can be used to find the average use of certain keywords. You can find out what people are searching to get to your website when you use the Google Webmaster tools. Some of those tools can show you the top 10 suggested keywords that Google automates. Despite this, you need to know how to choose the right keywords for your website. You also need to apply the same keywords to your website and social media pages.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Using the right keywords is one of the keys to success. You can find places that are similar to your business and see what they are doing. If you search for Redbox using Google, you will also be suggested places like Blockbuster, Netflix, Gamefly, and Walmart. If you search for a car company on Facebook, you will also be shown “related pages” that are normally other big car companies.

Sometimes you will find items that say they are related, but they actually aren’t. This method can be a good way to find what other businesses like yours are doing with their websites and social media pages. You will want to use similar keywords to them so that you can get recognized as much as they are.

A laptop screen showing the homepage of a website.

Listen to Your Audience

You need to listen to your visitors because the keywords they are using will help you better understand them. You need to pay close attention to phrases like the following: “I am looking for a ___” or “Can you help me with my ___.” Whatever words are being put in the blanks are what customers are searching for in search engines.

Usually, keywords go into two categories: non-commercial intent and commercial intent. With non-commercial, people are just using those to search for information. With commercials, people are searching for a specific product or service to get. Despite this, you should still try to get non-commercial and commercial keywords onto your website. Non-commercial keywords can still bring potential buyers.

The easiest way to get online marketing to match with keywords is to do an audit. This will take you beyond your website and you will need to include the following:

  • Key pages contained on the website (Homepage, Products page, About page, Contact page, etc.)
  • Top content on the website; use Google Analytics to find this out
  • Top content on other sites like SlideShare and YouTube
  • All social media pages
  • Author bio from websites that you contribute to

You will have to take the URLs from each page and put them in a spreadsheet or Word document. You should have the following information for each page:

  • SEO title and meta description
  • Title and description for multimedia on social media
  • The text used in a company or personal descriptions for social media pages

Once you do this, you will need to do the following:

  • Match key pages with top commercial keywords
  • Match top content with top non-commercial keywords
  • Match top media from other sites with top commercial keywords for videos
  • Match top media from other sites with top non-commercial keywords for information content
  • Match social media profiles and author bios with top commercial keywords

After this, you will need to implement all of the keywords. These will be the keywords that you found were the most important. They will need to be put in things like SEO titles and social media bios.

When it comes to author bios, the keyword doesn’t need to be in the anchor text, but close to the link in your website.

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