When people start a website they tend to add lots of keywords on the home page, in other pages, and in blogs, because they think that this will help them get noticed by Google faster. I remember working for a marketing agency that made us use two keywords in each blog post, that usually weren’t any longer than 400 words. That worked well for us, but that was also 2012.
While four years may not seem like a long time, in the SEO world, that’s an eternity. So if you still have that mindset, it’s time to change. Let’s be honest, keywords are still a very important part of content marketing, and using the right keywords on your website will help Google understand what your website is about.
However, the days of keyword stuffing, or even high keyword densities, are over. In the past many SEO experts would write content for websites with a keyword density around 3-4%, maybe even as high as 5% in some cases, however that’s no longer a great idea.
Google reminds me a lot of the indie radio station I worked at in college. The radio DJs would usually get in a huff whenever one of their beloved indie rock-stars made it to the mainstream. All of a sudden, the secrete was out and their little-world was now open to the masses. That’s very similar to how Google handles SEO. Once a lot of people start doing something that works, Google has to change to find a different way to rank websites. Usually it’s because unethical SEO people take advantage of what works with Google, to the point that the search engine is overrun with garbage websites that rank well.
It’s our own fault really. That’s why it’s so important to constantly keep up on changes Google makes to its algorithm. Today, it’s best to have a keyword density of around 2%. And to be honest, I’ve had websites rank with keyword-densities that are even lower than that. You should also avoid trying to cram several different keywords on one page. One keyword per page is plenty to tell Google who you are.
So what has replaced high keyword-density? Not much has seem to replace it, although keyword placement has taken on a larger emphasis. That means placing the keyword (a few times) in the text of the page, in the header, in the title of the image, and (if possible) in the URL of the site. Even if you want to have the main URL as your business’ name, you can still buy SEO-friendly URLs with keywords and have them link to your site.
The trend towards mobile searches may lead to longer form keywords appearing on websites in search results. Phrases may be the new keywords as people use Siri and the Google speak search function to ask their mobile devices questions. So far I haven’t seen that transition on the keywords that I frequently search for myself and clients, however Google has hinted that it is going to pay attention to mobile searches, because that’s how people are searching.
So cool it with the keywords. If you are struggling to understand the changing landscape of SEO please feel free to contact me to ask how I can help grow your business!