Once upon a time, Google gathered information about a site based solely on links, and the keywords that were present on the page. In fact, companies measured the amount of success they were enjoying based on keyword ranking alone. It didn’t take long before webmasters caught wind of this simple idea and began stuffing content full of keywords, many times to the detriment of the content that site users were trying to read.
Of course, as Google became more sophisticated, it caught wind of this fact and ramped up its efforts to deliver quality, relevant sites. Yes, Google still needs text in order to determine what it should do. However, these days, the placement of your keywords means more to Google than the frequency in which they occur. Putting a keyword in your title tag, and placing it in the header of your content means more to the search mogul than clumsily stuffing it six times into the copy.
The fact of the matter is, Google is growing exponentially smarter. If you take that fact for granted, you will probably be facing a penalization in the SERPs sometime soon. Google is now looking for meaning, not specific words that it pulls from the page, and pairs with user queries. Those days are long gone. There is actually an intermediate step involved in search now, where Google interprets the data on site.
Crucial areas on a page, like meta data and the header shouldn’t just focus on one keyword phrase either. According to Google itself, 70 percent of search results comes from the search engine deriving meaning from keyword synonyms.
Rather than optimizing specific phrases, its crucial now that you optimize for meaning. Content wise, you might as well toss out keywords altogether and focus on posting content that people will actually read so you can build your online authority.
The New Big Wheels at the Cracker Factory
Semantic search is the art of deriving meaning from search queries that users type in. Say you have a hankering for hamburgers, and you hail from Florida. You would likely type into Google: “cheap hamburgers in Clearwater.” If Google was looking just for keywords, it would break the query down in to “cheap,” “burgers” and “Clearwater,” omitting the stop phrase. Searching for pages that mention cheap, burgers and Clearwater could mean a number of things; events, restaurants, or stores.
Give Google some credit. It knows you are searching for a cheap hamburger joint in the vicinity of Clearwater, Florida. It reacts accordingly, and searches its index for businesses that fit the semantic description. In other words, it’s ignoring keywords, placing importance on the meaning to deliver relevancy for the user. Rather than obsessing about keyword density, focus on content that makes you seem like what you are, an inexpensive restaurant, and if you have signaled that you are located within or close to Clearwater, you will likely show up in the results, whether you have the exact query phrase in on your website or not.
Second to embracing semantic search is schematic markup. This is one of the few times Google actually asks us for our input. That’s because schematic markup helps Google to process and understand specific types of information on the site.
So, are keywords dying out slowly? To put it succinctly, yes. We must consider how complex and intelligent the search engines have become. When people assume that they know more than the likes of Google or Bing, they usually get reminded of who is really calling the shots, fast and hard.