From 2010 to 2021, a lot of things have changed in the SEO landscape that only SEO professionals can understand better. In 2010, there was no Panda, Hummingbird, RankBrain, or BERT. People thought writing SEO articles with target keywords and their variations for a certain number of times was enough. Adding keyword in the title tag, H1, and meta description was a priority. Other fundamental tricks were also there. But when Google updates started rolling out one by one, the whole SEO game had to revamp and sync in with them. Nobody imagined that the Google algorithm could go through such a massive shift. Today, in this new decade, one thing is evident that using relevant keywords at the right places is no more going to impact Google rankings. The focus has to make a paradigm switch from keyword stuffing to searchers’ intent. It’s is a time to pause and reflect what type of content one should develop for search, ask oneself what is SEO content once again.
When you say SEO content, you indicate writing content for search engine rankings and not for humans. Hence, it’s better to reconsider these terms. Google algorithm is trying to evolve into a model where visitors get the choice to select the best searches for themselves. However, it doesn’t imply that producing interesting content can be the real clincher. It goes beyond all this. You don’t need SEO content but SEO-friendly content to remain on the top of your game in NYC. It is the one that can address users’ intent and questions thoroughly with expertise, authority, and trust. Let’s explore the aspects of content-friendly content first before dissecting the job of keywords.
Features of SEO-friendly Content
1. Having an ability to understand and solve searcher’s query
A true SEO-friendly content would always answer the visitor’s question first. That will be the central theme of the page without any exception. As you understand, not all types of content can serve the search audience. For instance, you can think of thought leadership or breaking news articles that demonstrate new ideas, and may not have anything to do with the popular searches. Other content pieces can be more relevant to the purpose of social engagement. Since every content can have a specific goal, it is not possible to get each of them ranked high in search engines.
2. Being clear and comprehensive to help searchers
Everyone prefers to have direct and to-the-point answers to their questions. Nobody likes to go through a piece of content that beats about the bush and looks clunky. Straightforwardness matters the most. Even Google also attaches value to this type of content. However, some people tend to ignore the importance of grammar and diction in this context. SEO people would instead want to invest their time in natural language processing. But it is essential to learn that even a highly informative article could fail if it were not easy reading. So, paying attention to these factors is necessary. Your focus should be on using simple terms, avoiding verbose with conciseness, and including active voice over passive voice, etc. Search engines recognize comprehensiveness. Google also mentions that pages with appropriate or comprehensive content can get high ratings for being extremely useful. It applies to websites also. A thorough and precise website that solves the audiences’ query receives the maximum attention.
3. Having E-A-T as an intrinsic quality
In the SEO world, you often come across three most talked about traits of the content, such as expertise, authority, and trust. Let’s take a cue from two titles that deal with the same topic but in a different way. For example, you can say:
- Busting 10 of the Biggest Myths of E-A-T.
- Interesting Facts about E-A-T.
If you look at these two, you will realize that both of them target searcher’s queries directly and clearly. And what else did you notice – the use of keyword? So, now let’s take up this essential point.
The significance of keywords for SEO
As reiterated all over, clear and comprehensive content that answers searcher’s questions plays a vital role in getting organic traffic. However, this may make you wonder about the place of keywords in content and how to use them in the best possible manner. For some quick knowledge, however, you can read below.
If you delved into the past about ten years ago, you would probably burst out laughing seeing the content rules. But they were prevalent. You can ridicule them in today’s context; still, you cannot deny that search articles even today are not any different or much better. The reason behind this is simple. You give one keyword to a writer for optimizing a particular topic. The focus of the writer remains on the keyword instead of the content that can make it most relevant for a query.
To avoid this blooper, you have to remember that the keyword is the input and content is the output. That’s why one needs to emphasize more on answering the query rather than how to target the keyword. And for this, it is crucial to think in terms of questions and not keywords. When you make this mental shift by referring keywords as searches and queries, you would eventually end up talking about how to answer a query rather than stuffing your copy with keywords.
There can be other challenges also when you take a keyword-based approach. For instance, your obsession with head terms can keep you away from using long-tail keywords that are quite critical. Long-tail search terms can consist of two words to even a sequence of twenty words as they represent what searchers type or speak. Most often than not, people run after vanity keywords ignoring those large volumes of queries that could generate stronger impressions and traffic for your site. So, it’s not the keywords that are culprits. How you approach them is the real affair.
A sneak peek into Google updates affecting the use of keywords
Last year, Google ran a couple of algorithm updates, of which BERT was one. Its prime objective was human language processing. Google already uses advanced AI systems to decode complex queries. So, it is no surprise to learn about the purpose of this particular version.
In 2011, you must have noticed the impact of Panda that aimed at giving more preference to high-quality pages and websites in NYC over those that delivered hardly any value. As a consequence, fluffy content with stuffed keywords slid down the rankings. In 2013, Google released Hummingbird to decode queries in a much better way by going into the meaning of the searched terms and not just retrieving information based on matching words. So, again, you can see that Google wanted companies to think beyond keywords and focus more on addressing the queries.
Then, if you look at 2015, there came a machine learning element called RankBrain. This update aimed to fetch suitable results for vague or unique queries. And recently, as hinted above, it was BERT where natural searches gained attention, highlighting the fact that one has to let go of the hardcore keyword-based approach.
A solution to the keyword challenge
From this, it is easy to conclude that Google always wanted to rank content that dealt with queries. The only thing is that it is getting better at it with each passing day. Because of this, it becomes essential that you track the searched terms that the audience uses. For that, Google Search Console can come in handy as a tool. You can find out the kind of queries taking place there and use them to create your search content.
If you have an insight into how your target audience searches, you will be able to develop content that answers their queries organically, and you would not have to make any special effort to address those queries partly or wholly.
Things will have a natural flow. Besides, it will enable you to avoid the risk of keyword stuffing. You need to remind yourself that you are writing for humans and search. It’s not about leaving out one for the other. Reaching out to your target group should be your ultimate goal, and the search engine is that platform that gives you a reach.
Hence, you need to develop content along these lines.
It can be intimidating for many people to change their mindset. But if you can achieve much more with one shift, you should give it some value. Google is getting query-centric, and it is going to be the future of digital content. So, if you desire to compete, then don’t ignore this aspect. Keywords are relevant but only when they address specific questions with clarity.