What Role Does Keyword Ranking Play in Modern SEO?
Since the introduction of search engines, the use of keywords in web content have dictated where a website appears on rankings. Today, through ongoing updates to search engine algorithms, the role that keywords play has continued to change.
While keywords still play a part, it’s much harder to ‘play the system’ and artificially rank sites higher than they should appear.
The introduction of the Knowledge Graph is what has driven the offensive against keyword stuffing. This is a three-pronged method that helps users find what they’re looking for depending on the context of the language they use. It also means that search engines will find relevant information connected to the keywords entered, and locate other relevant data connected to the initial query.
Are Keywords Still Important?
Despite search query refinement, SEO still relies (in part) on keywords to determine what content is relevant to a search query. Through in-depth keyword research, it is possible to help users reveal information that could have otherwise been overlooked.
Many SEO specialists, however, believe that keywords are becoming less important. Owing to the introduction of personalized search, and a new Google page layout that features paid results at the top, keywords are no longer the most important measurement for SEO success. More effective ways to measure SEO success include user behavior, sales, profits, conversions, and organic search traffic.
How Keyword Research is Changing
The knowledge graph introduced a new system of ‘semantic search’, which improves search accuracy by examining the purpose of a search, as opposed solely to examining the keywords entered. Using context and the meaning of terms used, obtained through searchable dataspace, semantic search has refined search engine optimization
Websites now rely on quality backlinks and a focus on topical themes to improve results.
A New, Conversational Direction
Search is also no longer just about finding specific web pages. With the popularity of smart assistants on mobile devices, including Siri and Google Now, users are expecting instant answers. Amazon Echo, Google Home and even virtual reality systems push this even further, making search more about instant results and less about pages of relevant information being displayed on a screen.
Keywords will remain a fundamental part of SEO, but website owners and marketers must now focus on how search algorithms continue to change. Contextual results, personalized search and the inclusion of backlinks in webpages will dictate performance and success.