Keyword notes

Why Keywords Still Matter in SEO (But They Aren't Everything)

  • Google’s algorithm update in 2013, called Hummingbird, introduced semantic search capabilities. Google started looking at the context of content, rather than just scanning for specific keywords, which required SEO and content marketing strategies to shift away from a keyword-density focus.
  • The inner workings of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm are somewhat secret. Rather than taking a user’s query and looking for exact matches throughout the web, now attempts to analyze the general meaning and intent of a user query. 
  • Take the query “hot dog restaurant” above. Rather than looking for this exact phrase throughout the web, Google will understand that a user is looking for a restaurant that sells hot dogs, and probably nearby. It may make some assumptions and consider topic-adjacent keywords, including synonyms. 
  • Keywords are almost exclusively used to determine relevance

Long-tail keyword

an extended, often more conversational string of words; for example, “where to find the best hot dog restaurants in Memphis”

3 main insights from keyword research

  • New keyword options
  • Keyword search volume
  • Keyword competition

Ways to utilize keywords

  • Onsite core content
  • Onsite blog posts
  • Inbound links and anchor text

Tactics that could end up weakening your position, or even earning you a manual penalty

  • Keyword stuffing and hiding
    • if the phrase “best burger restaurant” appears 25 times in the body of an article, it’s going to look suspicious.
  • Irrelevant or unnatural keywords
  • Bad anchor text practices
    • if you use the same phrase in multiple links, it’s going to be seen as a red flag.