Recently the word on the street is that you no longer need to perform an in-depth keyword research in order to rank your website in top positions of page one for your search query. Google has hinted several times for that to be the case but is that the truth? The short answer is: No.
How has keyword research changed from the past?
In the past keyword research was mainly used and abused for stuffing high-volume keywords on your page and inside your content.
This would help you rank and beat all your competition but was terrible for searcher intent. Google would take up all your content on the page together with the stuffed keyword (or keywords) that would appear about 20 times in a 200-300 word content (literally what people did) and then match it with the nearly exact matches on the web. The worst part was that it actually used all the Meta tags (where the keyword was also “stuffed”) and give you the results. So for example you could search for “changing a tire on my car” and on Google you would get a result with exact match in title and Meta description BUT once you actually visit the site, you were utterly disappointed. Why you may ask? The answer is pretty simple. Once you were on that website, you realize that it has nothing to do with changing the tire of a car but it tries to sell you a car or another car product. Remember that time? I sure do. SEO professionals and Web Developers were abusing this method in order to drive more traffic and potentially land a sale of a product or engage the user in activities that were not for the intent of the search. During this period, it seemed like Google was in the “stone age” compared to now. Most of the times, the user intent was not satisfied and because of that people wasted huge amounts of time searching on Google and going through the pages until they could find exactly what they were looking for. The end of that era came quickly just like anything else that can manipulate the Google algorithm.
After the Hummingbird update that Google launched in 2013, things have drastically changed. The search engine giant revolutionized the way it handled search queries. Instead of the “copy and match” method it was using before, Google began evaluating the search intent of the user and determined which content is most relevant. The new semantic search began evolving quickly and individual keywords lost significance over long-tail keywords. Since long-tail keywords are more detailed and more specific, the chances of these keywords answering the searchers’ intent are going to be higher.
Benefits of keyword research in 2019
Focusing on understanding the user search intent will provide you with a road map for your content. Keyword research can do many things from which you can benefit today.
Instead of altering your content to fit your keywords (like in the past), today you should perform keyword research before building your content. Once you pick your target keyword, you need to make sure that the content is built around what the specific keyword phrase is showing on top of the SERP. If a keyword phrase has multiple meanings, you need to make a list of all the different search intents. The most popular variation of the keyword is probably the highest ranked in your SERP.
Here is an example:
Let’s say that you notice a split in the search intent for your keyword phrase. Half of the searches are educational and academically focused however the other half is focused on the search intent of buying a product. In this case, Google will give power to the educational and academic search intent of the keyword phrase. Even if you have twice as much links pointing to your page than the competitor, you won’t be able to position in the top five where he might be because you are trying to sell a product rather than providing relevant information for the educational search intent. Clearly ranking for keywords is no longer about who has the most content or links pointing to their webpage. If your page is able to satisfy the search intent then you will most likely even rank above any giants in your niche. If you remember in the beginning of this article I mentioned that keyword is still important. So why is everyone saying that keyword research does not work anymore? Answer is in the previous two parts of this article. The way keyword research is used has changed. This does not make it less valuable in fact it is more important today than ever before. You need to build your content around answering the search intent of your keyword phrase rather than just stuffing your keyword somewhere inside your content.
Keyword research strategies to satisfy search intent
At the end of the day you are still trying to generate traffic to your webpage. There is no point of selecting a search query that only a handful of people are searching for in a month. With that in mind, first check the search volume, potential traffic, and of course the CTR of the search query.
The second thing is to check your competitor’s ranking pages for the topic. See what they are ranking for and compare that to the search volume, traffic, and click through rate. If your content is better than the competitor and answers more thoroughly the search query then you are almost ready to go. Next you need to assess the difficulty of ranking for your topic. Look at the profile link of competitors and their on-page. Check not just the quantity but also the quality of the links. Keep in mind that links are far from being everything in order to rank. You should strive to create content around your sub topics. Simply look at the pages Google is rewarding and how in-depth they go into the topic of the search query. Simply create richer content! If you think that your competitors have forgotten something really important into their content that is relevant to the search query, then do your research and create additions to your already built content.
This is how you maximize your search traffic and potentially rank for keywords with the same content that your competitors don’t have. You have built your content but it is still not ready for publishing. Outline the important parts of the content with header tags. Include secondary keywords or subtopics of your main topic. This will help you boost these keywords and rank higher for relevant search queries. Last but not least, start building links. No matter how awesome your content is, Google will not trust it if no one is linking to it. Unfortunately a lot of amazing content can be buried into the web simply because it needs a little bit of exposure in order to be appreciated.
What you should take away from this?
There are several things we should be learning from this. The number one thing is to start looking at keyword research differently. Rather than trying to stuff in as many keywords as possible inside your already built content, you should use your research for a roadmap of content creation. By doing this, you are more likely to create awesome and trustworthy content thus becoming an expert in your niche. The second most important thing is to identify the user search intent. Google no longer picks up keywords from your page and matches them with the SERP results. Instead it focuses on delivering the most accurate and relevant answer for the searcher’s query. Last but not least, you should strive for better user experience. A lot of things go into creating a better experience for the user but the main part is being able to satisfy the search intent. If your content is able to do that, then you will most likely build trust and authority within your niche and people will begin to link to your awesome content.
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