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Keywords – Are They Obsolete?

I was on a call the other day with someone who said their current SEO strategy isn’t based on keywords. For a few moments I didn’t quite know what to say. Like, at all? No keywords at all? I was completely speechless. How do you have a strategy without keywords? Aren’t keywords sort of the baseline of your work in SEO?

Functionally, yes, they are. However, the point he was trying to make was that keywords couldn’t be the end-all and be-all of their SEO strategy, and the process they were using wasn’t working, so for them, they had abandoned it altogether.

What doesn’t work with keywords?

  • Too many on a page. Don’t overreach.
  • Not using your tools. Use free tools (like the keyword planner), paid tools, your analytics and Search Console data, and reverse engineer your landing pages to determine long-tail query strings. Use what you have available to you.
  • Failure to use keywords effectively. Don’t get wishy-washy on what keyword you want to use. If your customers use a term, don’t play around with 10 different variations of that term. Focus your page on that variation.
  • Not understanding your customer. If your customer thinks you’re a lawyer, and you think you’re an attorney, who’s right? Like we all learned in our early retail or serving jobs — the customer is always right. Right?
  • Failure to be productive with your keywords. Have you failed to evaluate your keywords in a while? Have you looked at your competitors and how they leverage keywords? Have you tracked your keyword rankings and compared them to past rankings? If you don’t measure baselines, you can’t track progress.

Yes, semantic search and voice search have changed how search queries work. Yes, search personalization and the rising intelligence of the algorithm have changed what we see and how we’re served content. Yes, the sheer volume of web pages in existence make SEO more difficult. Yes, the meta keywords section is not crawled.

But none of this means that the keywords are irrelevant. What it means that they need to evolve with your SEO strategy like every other aspect of digital marketing has managed to evolve over the last several years.

Keywords aren’t over — they’ve evolved.

Here are some other resources we love about keywords. If you’re interested in learning more about your keywords, reach out to us for one of our SEO Foundation Packages, which include a full keyword audit and competitor research report!