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Search engine optimization (SEO) has been an important part of internet marketing for ages. Good SEO relies on keywords and keyword phrases to help your website and web pages rank high on search engines. In the last few years, Google Search and other engines have made updates designed to enhance the user experience. Are keywords still as important in your online content as before?

The Importance of Keywords for Content Marketing

The answer is yes … and no. Keywords continue forming an essential part of online articles. They help search engines know what general topic you’re writing about and what questions your content answers. People who are searching for installation instructions for a tile floor will likely click on links featuring the keyword phrases “how to install tile floors” or “tile floor installation tips.”

Keywords are also important for telling Google what geographical location your content targets. Someone who wants to hire a local plumber will probably use a location-based keyword such as “best plumber in Topeka, KS” or even “best plumber near me.” When your marketing materials contain location-based keywords, search engines reference your website when offering recommendations.

The Rise of Intent-Based Searches

What has changed regarding keywords is that modern search engines have gotten better at predicting user intent. In other words, they understand what your question is asking instead of only looking for specific keywords. Then, the search algorithm looks for content that provides a good answer.

Search engines are now capable of seeing synonyms and near-keyword phrases with similar meanings. If you ask the question “Why is my car making a strange noise?” search engines may look for articles with terms such as “common car noises,” “what car sounds mean,” “signs of car trouble,” and similar answers.

The keyword doesn’t have to be word-for-word identical to what the user types. As long as the search intent is clear, your page can appear. The keyword phrase “strange car noises” could be written as “weird car noises,” “strange sounds from car,” “automobile trouble warning signs” and many alternatives and still count.

Content Created for Search Intent

How can you make sure your online marketing ranks high with today’s search engines? Focus more on topics and high-quality content than including X keyword X number of times. Pick a few important keywords, include them a few times, and write content that solves problems for readers. Includes lots of alternative keyword spellings and produce articles that are interesting and engaging.