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Understanding the Role of Keywords

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Seven things today’s marketing professionals need to know about keywords, and how they fit in the brand’s overall digital strategy.

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The idea of optimizing webpages for specific keywords is almost as old as the Internet itself. For as long as content has been searchable, publishers have looked for ways to make theirs more easily found.

By now, most marketers have developed their own positions on the role of keywords in SEO. It’s a topic that has raised questions, spawned myths, and generated enough demand for there to be keyword-focused businesses and platforms.

But today the question on some marketers’ minds has become, does this kind of work still make a difference?

The Role of Keywords has Changed

Search engines, with Google out front by a healthy lead, have become more sophisticated over the years. They’ve learned to extrapolate information about websites by looking at more than just the words on each page.

Google takes into account things like image alt text, anchor text in backlinks, and the way pages are structured, among others.

This sophistication has made it easier for users to find what they’re looking for, even when they can’t perfectly articulate it. It’s also changed how we prepare optimized content for the web.

Know the Basics About Keywords

SEO is constantly evolving, so it helps to identify what we know is true and reliable. Here are a few things today’s marketing professionals need to know about keywords and how they fit in the brand’s overall digital strategy:

  1. First, lean on the data. You might feel tempted, even obligated, to guess which keywords you should target, but keyword research is the right place to start. Later, when that research has produced a long list of vetted terms, your experience and instincts will help us narrow it down to the best of the best.
  2. Later, look beyond the data. DKY’s research will take into account things like estimated search volume and difficulty ratings—measurements that can be expressed in real numbers. But we’ll also layer in the element of user intent. What is this person really looking for when she queries this phrase? Should certain words like “cheap” and “DIY” be avoided in our list? These kinds of abstract criteria will be considered in addition to clear-cut data.
  3. Your audience’s vocabulary matters. Nobody knows your industry, products, and brand like you do. In fact, your team may be the industry’s foremost experts on a given topic. But technical expertise, left unchecked, can also jeopardize a keyword list. It’s important to balance our knowledge of industry terms with the everyday language of our audience. We may discover keywords that aren’t technically accurate, but are still relevant to your content and have high search volume. Keep an open mind about these, and you may gain an SEO advantage over your competitors.
  4. Google rewards authority, not repetition. The days when keyword stuffing could help a site rank were short-lived and, frankly, awful. Today, the highest-ranked pages are those with the clearest evidence of authority on a specific topic. With your help, we’ll assess which keywords we can realistically support with relevant, specific, and authoritative content. Original videos, photos, podcasts, news articles, social posts, FAQs, and more can help establish our site as an authority. If we can’t dedicate at least one page of good content to a focused keyword theme, the value and relevance of that keyword should be thoughtfully reconsidered.
  5. Keyword rankings are a zero-sum game. You’re not the only brand in your market trying to show up on page one in Google. Earning good rankings requires patience, demonstrated knowledge, and occasionally the funds to outperform the others (sometimes serious SEO costs serious money).
  6. Great keywords won’t compensate for a bad website. This is why we believe SEO starts in the planning phase of a new website, not after it’s launched. Website security, mobile-friendliness, page speed, accessibility, domain trust and authority, and reputable backlinks all play a role in how well your site will rank in Google.
  7. Organic rankings aren’t your endgame. Face it, you might not rank for every keyword on your list. Until that day comes, leverage other channels to get placement ahead of your competition. Paid search, remarketing, social advertising, pre-roll video ads, and a variety of offline tactics are all good ways to supplement your SEO efforts.

Let’s Get to Work

Over the past few years, we’ve shared how brands can be impactful and Ring True digitally. These discussions have spanned topics from why email marketing is still worth the effort, to how websites can fail if not properly crawled and indexed.

Keywords are relevant to your digital marketing, but they’re just one tool in the kit. Plan your organic rankings as part of an integrated effort for maximum impact and ROI.

If your brand is ready to get serious about digital marketing, DKY can help you navigate your options and put effective strategies into action. Let’s talk!