As a writer, I get emails from several webmasters, SEO firms, blogs and content marketers to produce content for them according to their specifications. I must admit that some of the requests are plain weird.
We are not talking about weirdness though. A common denominator to almost all of the request I get is about the
keywords to use. Now, that can get crazy as sometimes, the keywords don’t make any sense grammatically.
We would come back to that letter.
One e-commerce site once reached out to me for a few weeks of content work. On the face of it, the job was straightforward: write unique, informative and original content that readers can find useful.
I was informed I was going to be given the topics to write on. It turned out the topics were really keywords. My job was to frame topics around the keywords.
There were hundreds of these keywords neatly arranged in a spreadsheet. It was impressive.
Apparently, the client paid a tidy sum of money to some ‘keywords research expert’ to come up with the list. According to the expert, those were the keywords that would skyrocket the ranking of the website in Google search.
Looking at the website, it is clear the owner had invested quite a lot in the design and layout. It was beautiful. It is the kind website you can imagine people spending a lot of time on.
I and three other writers went to work. We created very good contents based on those keywords.
I left after a few weeks to work on a different project. A year later, I decided to check the site to see what was going on. The site was down. It wasn’t making as much as was expected and the owner couldn’t continue paying writers, his hosts and for some other services to keep the website going.
So in spite of investing money on keywords research, he didn’t get the needed traffic that would translate his investment into revenue.
Contrast the above experience with a different website I did a bit of work for.
The webmaster didn’t care about keywords. All he wanted were original content related to the services he was offering on his website.
And in his dashboard, he didn’t use Yoast plugin that many SEO experts are swearing by. As a matter of fact, I had to force him to use a better content editor because the one he had was too basic.
However, he had lots of traffic. An analysis of the website showed he got the majority of his traffic from Google search. The website is still going strong.
As a newbie blogger, one of the pitches you would get from people who want you to pay for their services is about keywords research.
They are very convincing. You can’t help but believe them that you need to serious keywords research to reveal the words you should be targeting to attract visitors and rank high in Google search.
Like it was stated in the first piece in this series, the modern day Google search is a different beast from the earlier iterations.
Back in the day, you could make money by seasoning thrash content with the right keywords. It doesn’t even matter if the keywords don’t make sense in a sentence, Google would rank you high.
But that is so old school. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that and keep wasting money on expensive keywords research.
Since 2013, the hummingbird upgrade done to Google had changed everything to favor natural language.
In essence, the Google algorithm can now decipher content made for people as against content made solely to trick the algorithm into ranking sites higher.
The new upgrade recognizes natural language and normal sentences. It, therefore, ranks the best contents higher irrespective of the number or about of keywords used in that content.
Importance of keywords
Keywords are still necessary when creating content. But not in the way the keywords research experts want you to believe.
For instance, people would still search for ‘dentist Ikeja’ if they are looking for a dentist in Ikeja. They hardly type ‘where can I find a dentist in Ikeja?‘
The keywords in both search queries are ‘dentist’ and ‘Ikeja‘. And the search results would likely be the same in both cases.
But, ‘dentist Ikeja’ is not a correct sentence. Using it like that would kill your content in the age of hummingbird.
Topics or content should not be framed around keywords. The keywords must fit in naturally into the content so that it makes sense when people are reading it.
Another example: Assuming you want to write about ‘exotic brown spaniel dogs‘, go on ahead and wrote about brown spaniels.
You focus should not be on the number of times you use the words ‘exotic brown spaniel dogs‘ in your write up. What Google’s hummingbird cares about is whether your content is really about these dogs.
So you can use synonyms of the keywords and still be on the right track.
Actually, you are encouraged to use synonyms a lot as that shows the content is up to the required standard.
Now, assuming in your write-up about brown spaniels you wrote something about white spaniels by way of comparisons, a Google search for ‘white spaniels’ would also have your site listed in the results.
That is even considering the fact your focus keywords doesn’t include white spaniels.
The point here is there must be a strong correlation between your topic and your content.
If your topic says something like ‘The easiest ways to may cake for Impromptu birthdays‘, you need to stick to that. It doesn’t matter the keywords you target if the piece is all about how to make cakes given a short deadline.
In other words, never write off topic. Do that consistently and you have nailed the problem of keywords.
It is not hard to know when your content is off topic. Once it is off topic, no matter how many times you sprinkle the keywords, the Google algorithm would ignore your piece for the ones that stuck to the topic.
As a new blogger, you are advised not to waste time and funds on keywords research or paying people to help you get the magic combinations of words that would make you millions. It won’t work.
If you read the first part of this series, it was mentioned that blogging is difficult. You don’t want to add to that stressing about the right keywords to use or how much you should pay somebody to help you out.
Finally, don’t get carried away by the impressive sounding ‘long tail keywords’.
Just like Search Engine Optimization, it is just another phrase coined by SEO Experts/Marketers to trick you into believing that ‘keywords’ is a complex subject that can only be deconstructed by a chosen few.
You remember ‘exotic brown spaniel dog‘? That is an example of a long tail keyword. See, there is nothing complex there.
What about the dozens of softwares brandished by some SEO firms as the best keywords research tool?
Their pitch here is constant.
It goes something like this: so and so keyword research tool would scour the Internet to bring you the most searched words/phrases in search engines and would rank them according to variables such as how competitive they are.
The last paragraph was deliberately written in a single long sentence so as to confuse you a bit. That is what peddlers of those softwares do. They hope to bury potential buyers with lots of words to get them to shell out money.
Sadly, but true, the best SEO marketers use the technique of talking long and hard to sound impressive and to confuse clients.
Again, I know from experience those tools are not as awesome as they are cracked up to be. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is free in case you want to try one. It is also one of the best in that field.
But again, mastering it won’t get you the traffic you want. It is just a guide (just like the rest of them) telling you about people’s search habits online.
Ultimately, you don’t really need it.
Next week we would look at the real reason(s) your blog is in the doldrums of Google search engine results.