Are Keywords Still Useful For SEO?

SEO-image-largeI’ve been at the Cheltenham Festival for the last few days, so not been online much…apart from checking emails, a few stats and the odd blog; I just can’t leave it alone!

What I have noticed is more posts on the ever changing art of using Keywords in SEO, and does it even exist anymore?

Some people are saying it is still paramount in your efforts to rank in the SERPs, others are saying keywords have a very minimal place in today’s ranking strategies.

I think we should take a few steps back, gather the whole picture and read it like a painting. Study what’s inside that painting at close quarters and see what the artist is trying to convey.

Sounds a bit dramatic, but if we all go ahead and rush into keyword optimization without understanding how it can benefit a page, non of us will be any the wiser.

What I have noticed is a dramatic upturn in a few of my very old websites, some are 10+ years plus.

These websites were built without any thought of trying to rank; they were built for the benefit of local interaction here in the UK and I didn’t use keywords to game the system, I used keywords that were natural to the content of the website.

What I mean to say is that I didn’t even think of any particular words that would help me shoot up the rankings to get on page one.Seo-blocks

On one particular website of mine, I’ve have had .gov sites link to my site, in fact, they’ve asked me if it was OK to link to me!

The site is ranked number one for its ‘Keyword’ and gets 1000+ visits per day. The only trouble, and here’s the rub, the site is no good for monetization, only adsense….and I only add that because it’s the marketer coming out in me!

I can’t put affiliate offers on there because I fear it would ruin it’s reputation. When I write for that site, it’s only on the subject in question, in this case local football. I cannot bring myself to ‘sell’ anything to this community…weird, huh?

And that’s why Google likes that particular site. It has relevant content that is being interacted with, it has a social presence, it has authority in its niche, it’s updated every week and it offers advice. There is absolutely no need for keyword research…it’s already done.

Now, that’s doesn’t mean I make a ton of money from it ($62 last month with adsense) but it does mean it’s what Google wants. No outside affiliate links, no over-the-top keyword usage and no irrelevant backlinks to it.

If I started to consciously put keywords into the posts, it would seem false to me and my readers. I write posts from the heart and without thinking, ‘how can I get THAT keyword in here

Now, as a marketer, and for my posts to affiliate offers on my other websites, I MUST find a place for THAT keyword….or should I?

Search-engine-diagram-enThe last few months or so, well, since Christmas, I’ve been writing reviews for whatever website I’m promoting offers to WITHOUT keywords in them. Well, OK, I do put the product keyword in there and maybe use it once or twice to say what it is….but that’s only natural writing.

I’m terrible with tracking my stuff, but it is no coincidence that the posts I’ve written without using forced keywords are selling more products than the posts with conscious keyword placement.

A post, article or review with plenty of keywords in it, does rank quicker and hit a higher spot sooner, but the surge doesn’t last and it will slowly bobble around on page 2 or 3, but a post, article or review written without conscious placement of keywords may be slower to rank high, but will be there for much longer and even rise to the top if the content is good enough.

So, are keywords still useful for SEO? Or is it, in fact, dead? Not entirely, but it’s looking at retirement homes to see out its remaining days.

Now, that only means I think using keywords is not so important in ranking a page, but it’s still extremely important when looking for a product to promote.

Once you’ve found the product using keyword research, be happy with that. No need to go mad adding that keyword in your review, you’ve already found the product you want to promote, now just write about it in a natural way, including relevant content surrounding the product.

This may be hard for some IM’ers who have been at this for some time. It’s a habit we’ve got to break.

1 – Keyword Research to find a product
2 – Product Found
3 – Write about product in a totally NATURAL way, not forced.
4 – Try for 1500+ words at least (get in ‘the zone’)
4 – Resist gaming the review, even if it feels awkward.
5 – Promote post socially

The only benefit I can see by using a Keyword for SEO purposes would be to use it as the title of your review (natural), once or twice inside your content (natural) and perhaps an image of your product named as your keyword (natural), other than that, good relevant content which answers questions pertaining to the product should be enough to get your review seen.

The secret here is to do a proper job of your review, not just a 300 word sales promotion littered with keywords.

You should really go to town and give the potential customer everything they need to know about the product.

Yes, it may take a day or two to write such a review, or even a few days, but that review will be seen as a tremendous source of information about that product and will serve as a totally useful piece of space in the Search Engines….and you will rank well for a long time!

Remember, we are small fish in a big sea and not all of us can throw thousands of dollars a month into Adwords and other advertising. The big affiliate sites can do this and that’s why Google doesn’t punish them. They pay Google for the privilege of being on the first page…sort of makes the Big G a hypocrite, but that’s another story!

In the meantime, make content valuable for low competition products, you then have a good chance of getting the ranking you want.

Keywords are not the answer to high rankings, value is. And Google Loves Value!
Three biggest web search engines

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