Are Keywords Really Dead in 2016?

Over the past few years, marketers have worked long hours to step up their SEO game and anticipate and adapt to the new rules and guidelines introduced by search engines. In 2016, most industry experts are still trying to find the most accurate answer to the following burning question: are keywords really dead? Moreover, should one focus on high-value topics, instead of striving to include a higher number of keywords into their content pieces for SEO purposes, and reach the perfect keyword density?

Is Keyword Density Still a Thing?

Keyword density was one of the trendiest concepts in the SEO world for many years in a row. In 2011 and 2012, most marketers were desperately trying to find and apply the perfect formula to sprinkle the right number of keywords into their texts. This practice has become obsolete since 2013, when Google rolled out its Hummingbird algorithm update, which compelled content creators to acknowledge the importance of semantic search. Well aware of the fact that factors such as linking tactics and keyword density aren’t the most trustworthy indicators of the value of a webpage, Google has started to focus more on user intent and assess the quality and relevancy of web content based on how close it matches the user’s intent.

Keywords Are Still Alive and Well

While semantic search is on the rise, keyword density is no longer seen as a vital element of a successful 2016 SEO strategy. Does this mean that keywords are dead? Not exactly! Semantic search is one of the hottest pieces of the ever-changing SEO puzzle simply due to the fact that it replaces useless metrics such as keyword density, with more relevant ones, such as usefulness, quality and compatibility with users’ intent. At the same time, it’s safe to say that semantic search doesn’t and shouldn’t turn keyword use into a distant memory from the past. As a matter of fact, if you’re looking forward to getting better at SEO while revamping your content strategy, here are 3 steps that you should take to achieve your goal.

  1. Focus on User Experience. Write with the needs of your audience in mind. Think about the reasons why they may land on your webpage. Next, find a way to add value to your content by sprinkling a great variety of keywords throughout your body copy, instead of repeating the same phrase 10 times or more. Always put the quality of the user experience first, instead of striving to achieve the ideal keyword density.
  2. Create a More Compelling Story. Instead of repeating the same keyword over and over again and intoxicating your audiences with robotized, spammy, low-value copy, try to create a better context for your marketing message. Keep in mind that Google is now able to decode your keywords to some extent, so work harder to provide real value to your readers by crafting and delivering content that is engaging, problem-solving, unique, as well as easy to find and read. In other words, always put quality over keyword density.
  3. Avoid Keyword Stuffing. Last time we checked, keyword stuffing was still a major no-no. Therefore, refrain yourself from using the same 2 or 3 keywords a million times inside your web content. As SiteProNews points out, there are several other Google-approved tactics that you could explore to take your writing a step up and optimize your pages like a pro. For instance, you could start by using natural synonyms for the first and secondary search phrases that you have in mind. By doing so, you could boost the value and readability of your text.

In 2016, when it comes to breathing life into your content strategy, you should remember that phrases and long-tail keywords are much more efficient than overused single words.  As a recent experiment conducted by Moz indicates, the topics that you choose, and the way in which you expand on them could be just as important as the keywords that you integrate to optimize your text.  Along these lines, you should acknowledge that keywords are no longer the core of a successful 2016 SEO strategy; they can be a useful tool that you should use to determine and follow user intent, to make certain that you’re satisfying your readers’ appetite for first-hand content on a regular basis.