How Should Websites Use Keywords in 2018?


 We've written before about keyword usage, but as Google has changed its goals and its algorithm over the years, it's important to revisit the issue. Two years ago we said:

"At the present time RankBrain will not be significantly more important than the other parts of Hummingbird, but Google intends to see how it works and how it learns towards the eventual goal of making RankBrain the #1 ranking factor, making links and on-page SEO a much less important part of how it ranks a webpage."

Has this changed? How important are keywords in 2018? And, most importantly, does using the right keywords in your website's content result in customers clicking and buying things?

It's important to understand that Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm - which includes Rankbrain - in order to make it "think" like a human. Google's goal is to make the web more interesting and more informative so that users can get their questions answered or find the information they seek quickly and easily. What it wants its algorithm to do is to evaluate website content to see if individual pages and websites further this goal or hamper it. Google then rewards the websites that meet its criteria and penalizes those that do not.

That algorithm is quite complex at this stage. This means that the tactics that worked to get pages ranked higher 5 years ago, including keyword stuffing, aren't rewarded the same now. Instead, something called searcher task accomplishment is. What is searcher task accomplishment? It's a term that essentially means user satisfaction. Google's algorithm can tell, based on a user's search history what the user was looking for, where they went to find it, if they were able to answer their question or get help, and/or how they redefined their searches to get better results or additional information.

Pages that are crammed with keywords will not be the kinds of pages that users will linger on because real live people know when they're reading actual helpful content. It answers a question or educates them in some way. They'll click out of pages with manipulatively worded content because they know it's garbage. It's not helpful. Google knows that. It can tell by searchers' online behavior if they are satisfied or not. It takes into account users' click-through rates and factors that information into its algorithm, updating its search rankings continuously.

What should you do to improve your website's search rankings, then? Make your content as user centric as possible. Think like your customers or your audience. Create pages that address questions they have and answer them clearly and completely.

You can use keywords - and you should - but only as they would naturally occur in speech or writing. Don't stuff your paragraphs with keywords based on SEO research, but include them where they fit organically in terms of the information being discussed. If you do that, Google will understand which search terms to rank your website for. Feel free to experiment as well based on your customers' needs and wants, and analyze your results, correcting over time as you see what Google rewards.

If your content strategy is focused on your users, you will be on the right track. This approach does involve keyword usage, but it's more complex than just keyword stuffing. It's always important to remember what Google demands: user satisfaction. A focus on user satisfaction, then, will naturally result in higher search rankings, better click-through rates, and more sales conversions. In short, better success!

Corporate Conversions can help you craft a successful content strategy for your website so you can meet all of the above goals and realize more sales for your business in 2018. If that is your goal, contact Tom Damitio today to discuss your company's specifics. We would love to help!

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