Do keywords still matter in 2016 SEO?

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There was a time when keywords played a huge role, but in this day and age, search engines don’t pay much attention to them. How did it happen? When did keyword meta start to lose its shine?

In the 2000s, microsite managers were busy making money from keyword stuffing on their pages rather than bothering to cough up viable content because Google’s SEO algorithm was working. The formulas could never have been simpler:

  • Find a neglected niche using keyword research
  • Pump up that niche keyword on a microsite
  • Use the traffic generated by the search results and redirect it to other websites.
  • And it starts all over again!

But then Google sends the panda to do the dirty work and it all blows up! The microsite method of keyword stuffing has had a huge hit and no matter what they tell you, SEO has never been the same.

Let’s go back to the present.

The modern adaptation of the search engine game has undergone a drastic, much-needed makeover. Google’s recent updates have kept keyword searches less relevant and more focused on enriching content that the user deserves.

Its algorithms have become so powerful that it can decipher the meaning behind the words on your pages and look for relevance that a customer’s query may represent. Your website may show up as a result for a search query that your pages may not even focus on!

Google has upgraded its game for the better.

It’s not just that SEO has changed, but the fact remains that your traditional SEO tactics are more likely to get you in knee-deep trouble than search engine rankings if you don’t update your strategies.

Here are three ways SEO has changed:

1- More emphasis on site authority than keywords

With over 200 ranking algorithms, Google delivers results based on your site’s authority, not your keywords. The search engine pays close attention to your website’s inbound and outbound links, content quality, website design, efficiency and usability, social media shares and so on.

SEO is important to stay in the race as others would compete to stay in the race. If you’re able to be a thought leader, Google will find you.

2- Niche Keywords – Long Tail and Short Tail

We all came across these two keywords – short tail and long tail. You can use words that are more geared towards specific people and their searches, and bingo! You get traffic. Well, that used to work. Until now.

Google has switched to something called “semantic search” to find out the unspoken words on your website.

Let’s say you own a coffee shop in Williamsburg that’s popular for its affordable coffee. But you never use “affordable coffee” as a keyword because you don’t want to sound cheap and you don’t want to scare off potential premium customers. Google’s latest gig will find out your popularity and authority and place you in the “affordable coffee in Williamsburg” results.

3- Keywords are still important, but…

SEO matters to some degree in the modern era of Google updates. It’s important for long-term keywords to find their way into your site’s content and meta, but only to a certain extent. But the frequency doesn’t matter. No more. You can’t stuff a specific keyword if it’s not necessary because Google will see through your ploy.

All you can do is make the content look pleasant and let the user find you.


Angel Seo is an SEO service optimizer based in Houston, USA. For more insightful articles, check out our blogs on the latest relevant topics in the world of content marketing.

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