Most SEO experts agree that conducting keyword research is one of the first steps in any SEO campaign. In general, I concur with you. Choosing the appropriate target keywords can have a significant impact on your campaign’s long-term performance.
But over time, the SEO community has exaggerated the significance of keywords. As a result, some practitioners put keywords first or devote practically all of their attention to optimizing for keywords, neglecting other facets of their campaign.
Is it possible for your search engine strategy to place too much emphasis on keywords?
Yes, is the instant response. Additionally, you can wind up doing more harm than good if you have keyword tunnel vision.
Exactly What Do SEO Keywords Mean?
We need to first identify keywords and their significance before we can discuss the issue of overemphasis on SEO keywords. What are keywords exactly, and why are they significant?
If you’re like most people, you conduct many searches on Google each day. Enter a word or phrase in the search bar to see the results. In essence, you are entering a keyword or keyword phrase.
This is important because it enables search engine optimizers to purposefully target a particular audience. Do you, for instance, run a frankfurter stand? If so, it would be fantastic if your website appeared highly in search results for phrases like “hotdog” or “hotdog vendor near me.” Although the keyword landscape has changed over time, optimizing your website and content for particular keywords might boost your chances of ranking highly for those phrases.
Earlier in Google’s history, by repeatedly using the same term on a page, a website could essentially guarantee rank one. Today’s Google algorithms are significantly more advanced. They can recognize the use of artificial language, keyword spam, and other black hat methods. In addition, Google officially discourages keyword stuffing and instead urges webmasters to produce authentic, high-quality content for their audience.
However, the majority of optimizers carry out keyword research to support the campaign’s direction. To gauge the popularity of different search phrases, it is essential to know the search volume. It is also essential to know the level of competition to know which keywords would be the most worthwhile to target.
The Condition of Current Keywords
The significance of investigating and concentrating on target keywords has diminished for a number of reasons.
- Using semantic search. The development of Google’s semantic search capabilities has been the worst offender. Google uses semantic search, which was initially introduced with the Hummingbird update in 2013, to examine your search query’s intent rather than just the precise words you used. With these tools in place, Google is no longer entirely dependent on the keywords input by search users; instead, it now also looks at the wording, evaluates synonyms, and considers alternative phrases in an effort to ascertain what the user is seeking. Focusing on a keyword, as a result, is less successful than it formerly was.
- Algorithm changes and sanctions. Google is also tightening up its procedures for penalizing and evaluating content. Your website may suffer a ranking penalty or, in severe situations, be delisted if it is shown to flagrantly breach Google’s terms and conditions or to clearly provide a poor user experience. Because of this, it’s not a good idea to overuse certain terms on your website.
- Heading keywords and competition. The most competitive keywords are head keywords, which are the short, widely used words that are most likely to be typed into a search engine. Millions of dollars have been spent on website optimization by large firms that have been in operation for many years in order to dominate those terms. Intensely targeted keyword optimization is less ideal (at least for head keywords) because your chances of directly competing with these companies are small.
The Consequences of Only Concentrating on SEO Keywords
You run the danger of the following if your strategy places an excessive amount of focus on keywords or if you misuse them:
- Much time and effort. A lot of time is needed to complete keyword research. You might easily spend dozens of hours looking for the ideal keywords to target, yet you would still only find a small number that was worthwhile. Finding the “ideal” keyword balance for your website will take a lot of time and effort, and you’ll end up investing even more time and work. Keep in mind that investing time and effort entails both an expense and an inconvenience. This could seriously raise the cost of your campaign as a whole, risking your ROI (ROI).
- Low-quality content. Using excessive keywords and similar techniques nearly always produces subpar material. Too often, SEO specialists are oblivious to their keyword targets and pack them into the headline, the body, and other unnatural places in order to hit the exact target. This is disruptive to your readers as well as failing to give you improved outcomes.
- Risks brought on by bad decisions. Assume that your main SEO focus is on keywords. The finest keywords require a big time and financial investment. However, what happens if a rival passes you? What occurs if the number of searches declines? Yes, you can adjust, but because of your poor decisions, you can also end up wasting a lot of time and money.
- Direct conflict. If you choose your keywords and develop your SEO strategy aggressively, you will encounter rivals who are just as aggressive. In contrast to high-profile keyword purists, who are worn out, low-hanging fruit is more readily available and less expensive.
- Inadequate experiences for visitors. The majority of SEO aficionados care about more than just search traffic. Additionally, they want to make money off of that search traffic by enticing customers with more goods (or making them watch ads). A rigid and unbending keyword optimization strategy won’t help you convert visitors; in fact, it can put them off.
- Measurements are challenging. Keep in mind that Google does not formally reveal keyword ranking information. There are still some restrictions on what you can achieve with this method, but you can do searches to check where you’re ranking or utilize a third-party tool to better understand your total rankings.
- worse results. It’s challenging to generalize generalizations, yet many keyword-obsessed purists produce less effective products. Due to their low-quality content, they rank lower overall, see fewer traffic, and, to top it all off, have reputation problems.
Should You Ditch the Keyword Strategy?
So, should you completely give up on keyword discovery and optimization?
Not at all, no. In addition to helping you understand the search habits of your target demographics, keywords also give you the ability to assess the search presence of your rivals and give your campaign a general direction. Long-tail keyword phrases also have lower levels of competition than their head keyword equivalents, making it easier for small enterprises and those with tight resources to compete.
Additionally crucial are keywords in the following contexts:
- Page titles and meta descriptions
Furthermore, your material still has relevance to keywords (though your article should not change entirely to include specific terms).
In addition, SEO is simply a small part of your complete digital marketing plan. Your overall success will be influenced by your PPC commercials, email marketing, social media marketing, and other efforts.
SEO keywords aren’t what they used to be. You cannot rely on them to determine the success of your campaign, and you cannot simply cram them into the text of your website and hope for the best. You must first comprehend the current context for keywords before lowering your expectations if you want to be effective with keywords and your complete SEO campaign.
Want assistance using our free SEO tools? Try our free Keyword Position, Keyword Density, and Keyword Suggestion tools.