When Google advanced to Hummingbird several things changed, but keywords are still central to SEO. See "FAQ: All About The New Google 'Hummingbird' Algorithm": http://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816
The following post sheds more light on the issue:
Keywords Still Matter
You bet keywords are still an important part of content when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. A recent study I did using the nonsense keywords "elberdarle dillishnad" continue to churn out some amazing results. Each time I perform an analysis on that crazy phrase I learn more about how today's search engine methods treat them. They are included in image names, tag attributes, headings, titles, document names, and more. Nothing, much, has changed on Google or other search engines about how those attributes are treated in the indexing process.
Even though I have seen articles from people who would love to have some breaking news to the contrary they are still one of the primary considerations for search indexing and returns. They play a tremendous role in Conversational Search which is one of Google's new focal points. "Where can I hire a web content writer who knows about real estate?" is an example of Conversational Search. You can see from reading it there are a couple of key phrases:
- hire a web content writer
- web content writer
- real estate
Google, Bing and most search engines provide a service, a product, to their users. We, since I am also a user, don't like searching for a term or phrase and being delivered a link, especially a high resulting one, which has little to do with the actual topic. Using the above example the best result any search engine can give is a link to a person or company which offers the service the searcher was seeking. Getting sent to an article on "how to hire a real estate content writer" is less than desirable. See where Google is going?
My Guru Told Me Keywords Are Dead
Keywords, alone, do not improve Page Rank. Like many other important considerations for Google Search Engine Results Page placements Page Rank is still crucial to acheive. Keywords are not a major consideration in SERP or SEO, but they are critical to the indexing function of all search engines. Just because Google's basic Analytics is no longer friendly to webmasters looking to track keyword performance the fact that they are important to SEO and SERP performance has not changed.
When Google advanced to Hummingbird several things did change and Analytics gradually quit making keyword reporting a prime function. Although there are still ways to track keyword performance Google wants us to move toward more human interesting content and away from sleazy games such as keyword stuffing. Almost every "trick" that has been sold relevant to SEO and keywords has been a disappointment to searchers except valid content creation which incorporates the keywords and phrases in valuable locations. Those include:
- in the URL (ie: keywords.url)
- in the document name (ie: somesite.url/keywords.html)
- in the page title
- in the H1, H2, H3 headings
- in image names (ie: keywords.img)
- in image attributes
- in image captions
- in bullet points
- and (yes, it still counts) in the meta description tag
Whether you are writing your own content, auditing your own site for SEO performance, or hiring someone (pick me! pick me!) to do this for you these are among the more important locations to check for the key phrases that are most likely to turn into conversions for you. Conversions, for most people, mean a contact, a sale or a subscription. Another article on the psychology of conversion is in my head. Should I ever get it to a post I'll try and let you know, since you are subscribed to my announcement list.
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I started writing on Active Rain in 2006 when I was representing the mortgage industry. I am no longer in that industry and many of the older posts contain outdated information. Please do not contact me for LENDING or MORTGAGE questions but rather contact a licensed mortgage professional from your area. I have always been in marketing and branding and that is still what I do. Thanks for reading!