The changing value of keywords in search engine optimisation Google image - labeled for reuse

The value of keywords in regards to search engine optimisation or SEO has changed along with the indexing algorithms that identify them. A digital marketing expert knows how to keep track of their value and implement them effectively for the benefit of a website.

In the context of SEO key-words are the basic linguistic markers that identify what the subject matter of a web-page is. They are the most basic way in which the indexing algorithms of search engines filter through the huge amount of pages on the internet.

Because they are so basic in their function, more primitive versions of search engine indexers could be exploited by a web-page artificially inserting a keyword over and over again. This is known as “keyword stuffing” and is something that search engines now punish with low rankings or outright bans.

While keywords are no longer the ultimate tool of website ranking, they have remained an important part of SEO. No matter how intelligent an algorithm gets, keywords remain the most fundamental sorting factor for websites.

Since indexing algorithms have developed ways to detect keyword stuffing and punish websites that engage in it, the use of keywords in SEO has naturally changed. Today, a digital marketing expert needs to use relevant keywords throughout their content in a clever way.

Keywords are also highly competitive. The market leaders in an industry will likely have invested capital in ad campaigns targeting the most general keywords that an internet user might include in a search term.

This fact has made SEO more important than ever for small businesses. Organisations that don’t have the capital to invest in broad keyword searches need to use SEO services to perform effective keyword research on their behalf.

Effective keyword research allows a website to target less competitive keywords that will allow a website to rank higher in search results. This is especially important in highly competitive industries where it is hard for a new business to generate an online presence.

A common example of this in practise is when a business targets keywords specific to a geographic region. While they may not be able to easily rank for broad keywords they have a better chance at ranking for keywords citing their product or service in a specific region.

The use of keywords in content, while necessary, has changed a great deal. Advanced search engines like Google no longer simply compare the presence of keywords on a website with a user’s search query.

The search algorithm is now smart enough that it can identify the meaning of a website’s content in relation to synonyms of a user’s query keywords. This means that the specificity and frequency of keywords throughout content is no longer as important as it once was.

The way search engines process a user’s query is increasingly semantic in nature. Instead of basing its results on their keyword relevancy to a search query, search engines are showing users the websites that, through their meaning, are the most relevant.

Despite these facts, keywords still have a role to play in a broader digital marketing context and not necessarily as a pure ranking factor. Keywords are still recognised by users who skim pages looking for what’s relevant to them.

For example, it’s important to have keywords present near the beginning of a meta title so that they show up in the search result’s preview of the website. This is more likely to draw the eye of a user who is looking for content related to those keywords.

Therefore the placement of keywords can help generate a click to a website. Since click-through-rates are a ranking factor, it can be said that keywords are an SEO tactic that contributes to it.


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