Once upon a time, keywords were the be-all and end-all of SEO.

Business owners stuffed their content with those all-important keywords, shoehorning exact-match keywords that reflected their customers’ search habits.

But things have changed.

Google’s algorithms — and, as a result, modern SEO best practices — are now highly sophisticated. Elements such as rich text snippets, video content, and high-authority link building, among other things, are now crucial to SEO.

Does that mean you should just give up on keywords altogether?

No, of course not. And here’s why.

1. Keywords still anchor your content in Google’s SERPs

Without keywords, how can Google’s crawlers recognise what your content is about? Keywords are still crucial for Google, as they determine how to organise the search results they provide.

2. Keywords still help you to diversify your audience

Searchers may access your content with a number of different objectives in mind. With keywords, you can make sure that you capture traffic based on all of these different motivations and search terms.

3. Keywords are not arbitrary values

Keywords are keywords because your audience has searched for them. These search terms are evidence of audience engagement in certain areas. Making sure your content reflects this helps you to connect with different customer segments and a broader range of users.

Things to Remember When Using Keywords

1. Keywords are secondary to human users

Always bear in mind that you are writing for your human audience, first and foremost. Everything you create needs to keep these human users at its heart.

You can guide users to your content with keywords, but don’t let these keywords distort or confuse the main point of your content.

2. Google is not a fan of your SEO efforts

Google’s motivation is to provide a great experience to its users. As such, Google is not trying to catch you and your business out, but neither does the search engine want to promote your content.

Make sure your content is relevant to the keywords you are using and you will have no problems with Google’s algorithms.

If you try to trick users into visiting your page through irrelevant keywords or through keyword stuffing, you may find that your pages are hit with penalties.

3. Exact-match keywords DO NOT matter, especially in local SEO efforts

The search engine does not need an exact-match keyword in order to connect a user with relevant content. Instead, the algorithm will draw parallels between sets of semantically-linked words.

This is especially true for local SEO, which sometimes sees content writers disrupting their content flow with “ABC services near me” exact-match phrases.

This is unnecessary because Google draws upon location data as well as keywords when delivering local SEO results.

Keep these tips in mind when crafting content. Keywords are still crucial, just in a new and more sophisticated way. Get their deployment right and you’ll reap the rewards.

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