I’m Not Alone When I Say, “Keywords Are Dying”

As you probably know, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing and being paid to do it for more than twenty years, and for the Web for about the last nine years. When I started writing for the Web, I was appalled by the way people butchered the English language. The punctuation was horrible, the spelling completely bogus, and the writing often made little sense. And that was OK with search engines. They didn’t care much about quality.

English: The three biggest web search engines

English: The three biggest web search engines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, as a writer, who does some measure of research about everything she writes, it took me a very long time to find readable, let alone reliable, information about whatever topic I was working on. Of course, it was a HUGE help to have an Internet, instead of having to spend inordinate amounts of time in the library. So, I wasn’t really complaining.

That was then; this is now

Fast forward to 2012, and the Internet is a different place. Yes, we still have those poorly written websites, but they’re finding it harder and harder to make it to page one at Google. Back in 2003, it wasn’t really that tough, if you used the right keywords a gazillion times. You could plaster one crappy article all over the Internet, stuffed with the keyword you wanted to rank for and if the competition wasn’t too high, you could about rank every time.

Today, if you use too many keywords, Google calls it “keyword stuffing,” and downgrades a page for it. Actually, one of the Panda iterations did away with a lot those pages in search results, so if you have a page from the old days written in that keyword-laden style, you’ll not find it in the same ranking positions that you may have found it back in 2003.

In fact, keywords are becoming less and less important, and I think that’s grand.

About a week ago, one of my clients sent a memo around pointing out that we weren’t ranking for “such and such” keywords, and we should be because the site’s clientele would be searching for those words. Hmm… But they don’t get any search traffic. And guess what? We’re ranking on page one for almost 200 keywords now that do get traffic. It’s a better deal.

But I didn’t go overboard with my use of keywords for them to arrive at those positions. I just wrote with the niche in mind. It’s what I do here. You don’t see me working one keyword into any of my posts. I just write. And I write about SEO, so most of the information that I spew here has terms that are already associated with that niche. Google knows. I mean, Bing & Yahoo are getting there, but let’s face it, Google is the Big Dog and we worry most about them. Right?

Google’s LSI (latent semantic indexing) is getting better and better all the time. It means that Google knows what your article, blog post, or page is about, even if you don’t use a special keyword. They can figure out what your piece is about because of the words you use in connection with what you’re writing.

So, let’s see… I’ve used content, keywords, keyword stuffing, Google, and LSI.  Think Google gets it? I do.


And I’m not alone. I just read an article by Stephen Logan, over at Koozai.com entitled, “Do Keywords Still Have a Role to Play in Content?,” and he said much the same thing.  And one passage made me smile. Logan wrote,

“For me, a term that is repeated in every paragraph, as well as featuring in most headings and Meta description, sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s as impossible to ignore as an elephant in a tutu walking down a busy high street.”

So true.  This is why I wrote that SEO Pressor is a plugin that could get you into hot water, if you over do. But so can WordPress SEO by Yoast or Scribe SEO. All of them are designed to help you optimize your posts, and if you follow through with each and every suggestion, you’re waving a red flag at the bull. Don’t do that.

Just be natural when writing. That’s really what it’s all about, as is the quality of your writing. If you publish with spelling and grammar errors, not good. If you haven’t done your research, not good.  So, be natural, but also care. That’s all you really need to do is care.

And if you can’t do that, hire someone to write for you, and I urge you to double-check them. I usually send what I’ve written to my client first for approval, at least until they’re happy with the writing. I don’t write everything myself, but I do edit everything myself, so it’s as though I’m writing it myself. I only use writers that can meet my standards. And I’m OK with showing the articles to the client first because it’s important to me that they’re comfortable with what we’re doing. We’re aiming to write content that makes their brand look good.

So, do yourself a favor and make yourself look good, if you’re the only content producer you can afford. If you can’t write, make videos. You can still get away with a lot there. 🙂


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