For years, keyword rankings have been an obsession of the SEO community—and rightfully so. After all, Google’s search algorithms continue to look at entities and intent, and keyword rankings help drive traffic, conversions, and ultimately revenue. With that in mind, Google has become increasingly more intelligent over the years, understanding user intent better. Those same algorithms now have a greater sense of context and meaning. In other words, keywords remain an essential component of Google’s indexing and retrieval system, despite what you might hear in some circles.
SEO strategies have evolved considerably, but even as backlinks, internal links, and usability become higher priorities, targeted keywords are still crucial to SEO success. From their essential function as intent communicators to their ability to help drive traffic and conversions, here are four reasons keywords will still matter for SEO in 2022.
As directional cues, keywords are best known for their function as communicators of user intent.
Written as words or phrases and split into multiple types ranging from branded keywords to non-branded, longtail keywords, local and global, they help define the topic and intent of your content. As such, were you to boil everything on your web pages (your images, video, copy, etc.) down to simple words and phrases, it would leave you with a group of primary keywords that make up those page elements.
For instance, a page about fly fishing in Montana might include obvious keywords like “Montana fly fishing.” Images and video elements will complement that information as users search this phrase, find the page in search results, and ultimately click on the website to learn more. Likewise, a retailer of fly-fishing gear or an educational page about the sport might focus on keywords related to fly fishing rods, reels, local shops, or the best spots to fly fish in a given area. In either case, these keywords act as linchpins between what people are searching for and the content that fills that need.
It’s why Google and other search engines leverage advanced query expansion technologies, growing increasingly smarter over the years. Even so, these technologies still have to account for definition and association. After all, any conversation can highlight that there are sometimes multiple ways to ask for the same thing, just as there are occasionally numerous answers to a given question. It’s up to search engines and marketers to ensure their content matches the intent of those questions as closely as possible.
Just as keywords help communicate user intent, they also help businesses and clients find ranking opportunities.
Whether you’re a manufacturer promoting new products or an SEO agency showcasing your beauty and skincare digital marketing experience, the right keywords can help drive real traffic to your website, especially if you’ve done the proper research beforehand.
Keyword research should establish the following:
With this information, businesses and SEO professionals can build content and marketing campaigns to showcase their products or services or those of their clients. Best of all, keyword research can sometimes highlight additional opportunities beyond organic search rankings.
Here’s an example: While researching the keyword “holiday sweater,” a fashion brand discovers high search volume for the term “green holiday sweater.” This information might be worth sharing with the design team, especially if their current product line doesn’t include green sweaters.
Suffice to say, this kind of keyword research is never truly finished. Trends can fluctuate, search intent can evolve, and even the names of things can change over time. The key is to stay on top of these changes and look for opportunities to identify and meet the needs of your target audience.
Speaking of target audiences, keywords can help identify where and to whom businesses and SEO professionals should focus their expertise.
For instance, a digital marketing agency might perform competitive analysis and look at keyword visibility for current or prospective clients versus the competitive set. In turn, this would help to uncover any content gaps in their client’s current SEO strategy. Essentially, it would help them identify any missed opportunities worth revisiting.
For example, suppose a mountain bike retailer wished to rank for the term “kids mountain bikes.” In turn, they hire an SEO agency to help them perform analysis around competitor visibility. That analysis reveals their competitors are ranking for “teen mountain bikes,” which the client carries but doesn’t feature prominently in their page titles, headings, or body content. As a result, they don’t rank for the term.
Because kids and teens aren’t synonymous, the SEO agency suggests developing content for “teen mountain bikes” instead. Additionally, they optimize it, mark it up with schema, build content around it, link to it internally, and promote the content, just as their competitors do. As a result, that retailer’s conversion rates increase 15% YOY. The key was identifying that previously missed opportunity and adjusting their content and strategy to match.
The more traffic a product page gets, theoretically, the more conversions a site owner can expect.
This is why investing in extensive keyword research and creating content targeting selected keywords is crucial to the modern digital marketing campaign. Essentially, the right keywords can help drive traffic to your website, especially if your research and optimizations have propelled you to the first page in Google SERPs. With the top Google search result taking 28.5% of clicks alone, this type of visibility is invaluable, potentially lifting sales of products associated with high-volume keywords.
As such, it’s important to remember that having a top position on a low-volume keyword isn’t nearly as meaningful. Because not many people are searching for this keyword, your net is essentially smaller. Comparatively, if you rank highly for a high-volume keyword, you can put your site’s listing in front of potentially thousands of searchers daily. So, focus your efforts on combining high-volume keywords with high-quality content that serves the intent of your end-users.
SEO strategy is all about delivering qualified traffic to your website and converting that traffic into paying customers. After all, if your site receives lots of traffic, but you fail to see conversions, something is missing from your strategy. VELOX Media can help.
As a Google Premier Partner ranking among the top 3% of digital marketing agencies in the world, VELOX Media has helped medium-sized businesses and enterprise clients achieve world-class results, with keyword and SEO strategies designed to take full advantage of Google’s incredible reach and influence. Reach out to the search marketing experts at VELOX Media today to learn how we can help your business improve and optimize your keyword and SEO strategies.