The world of search engine optimization is constantly evolving. This can make it difficult to keep up with the latest trends and the most effective strategies. Be warned: If you haven’t studied up on keyword research in a while, your information may be out of date today! Here’s a quick primer on modern keyword research and how it’s changed in the recent past.
Why Your Idea Of Keyword Research May Be Obsolete
Researching your keywords has always been a vital part of SEO work. While it remains important today, it’s a very different process than it was just a few years. You still want to put in your hours squinting at Google’s Keyword Planner and other tools that show you the relative demand for given keywords. Picking your keywords hasn’t changed that much. It’s how you use them that’s different.
In the past, that painstaking process of choosing which keywords to chase was the lion’s share of the research job. This is no longer the case. Once you’ve chosen a keyword, it’s not just a matter of cramming it into your content as often as you can without triggering a search algorithm’s spam alert. You can get a lot more mileage out of your content by crafting it with more care.
The Rise Of LSI
The reason the keyword research game has changed so dramatically is that the search engines are getting smarter about judging relevance. None of the major search engines rely on anything so crude as totaling up the number of times a keyword appears on a page to judge its relevance anymore. Instead, they’re using latent semantic indexing, or LSI.
The way LSI works is that the search engine algorithm looks for much more than just the search term when hunting for relevant pages. It compares prior search results and pulls up associated words and phrases that show up over and repeatedly again and looks for them along with the user’s search terms. An example:
A user plugs “masseuse Austin TX” into the search engine The algorithm finds a page that includes “masseuse Austin TX” four times. However, using LSI it finds a page that includes the phrases “professional masseuse qualifications,” “massage parlors in Austin,” “the Austin massage scene,” and “best masseur in the Austin area.” The latter page ends up judged more relevant and the search engine assigns it a higher position on the results page.
Using Keywords Correctly Today
So, how do you take this new relevance model into account when conducting your keyword research? Your goal should be to generate unique content that both includes your chosen keyword and a lot of useful, factual information relating to the same subject. One of the best ways to do this is to co-opt the LSI search process for yourself. Take the time to study the sites that perform well for your chosen keyword and look at their content. Concentrate on authority sites and blogs rather than commercial sites or online storefronts; that way you’ll have more content to look at. Use the content you read through as a guide for building your own pages.
Like most parts of the SEO field, keyword selection and use has undergone a lot of different changes. While the latest alterations in the way search engines judge relevance demand that you alter your keyword strategies, it’s still very possible to improve your site’s performance with a little effort.