Keywords have always been at the heart of SEO – but their importance has fluctuated over the years. In 2023, it’s all about value for the user – as that’s what Google’s helpful content update richly rewards. Of course, keywords still have a big part to play in this. 

But the question we’re asking is, are keywords still relevant? Well, in short, you’ll read a lot more about ‘relevance’ throughout this article, so that may inform the short answer. But, let’s get straight to it and look at how keywords should be used to increase the value and rankings of your content. 

The importance of ‘people-first’ content

First released in August 2022, the helpful content update emphasises the user experience. The era of ‘keyword stuffing’ ended long ago, and Google will always penalise any website through rankings where this is apparent. Saturating web pages with the exact keywords just won’t have the desired effect that it may have had at one time.

In the context of keywords, research needs to be carefully cultivated to consider the user’s intent. Adding value and solutions-based keywords that help firm up content across your website is a surefire way to provide this. When considering the value of keywords, think about the broader context of your users and the value of search terms above all else. 

Relevancy is key

Writing easy-to-digest content is one thing – but that won’t be enough on its own anymore. Prioritise relevancy and ensure your content naturally relates to your keywords, so your audience sticks around. Keywords with related meanings offer relevancy, allowing Google to understand the content clearly. 

Top tip: focus your content on the solution, not the question. Captivating content keeps your customers coming back for more. It can often sound robotic if you force long-tail keywords into your copy. Plus, it will stick out like a sore thumb (making it easier for Google to penalise you). 

Essentially, Google’s content update can be considered a new brief assigned to all digital marketers. It’s our job to ensure we adapt our keyword research to fit the latest criteria Google has bestowed upon us, or else we’ll fail the examination! Thankfully, we have plenty of methods we can deploy to meet Google’s demands. 

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords

Semantic search is a hot topic in the world of SEO, with many different approaches digital marketers adopt. In the past, Google strictly focused on exact-term matches for keywords and used this as the core basis to rank its web pages. Known as keyword density, smattering the same keyword across your website would be interpreted as “Bravo!” and Google would rank pages highly based on this. 

In 2023, this outdated practice won’t cut the mustard, so concepts like LSI keywords are more prominent. Google recognises semantic-related keywords and rewards those who deploy this tactic with higher rankings.

Using semantic search, Google preempts the user’s intent. Therefore, it’s vital to do the same when developing keyword strategies. This ensures the broader context of a search is considered – even when the keywords aren’t explicit.

As Google continues to evolve with deeper analysis of the broader context beyond our search terms, it’s no longer possible to rely on a few select keywords to rank. It makes more sense to focus on the value of the content – and, again, to concentrate on providing solutions and answers. 

Automated SEO tools

With the rise of AI, automated content continues to multiply. But Google can’t have the wool pulled over the eyes so easily and is wise to this. Therefore, uploading a deluge of generated blog content to websites and expecting miraculous results is impossible. However, there are ways you can benefit from the boom in technology. AI and automated SEO tools can enhance your keyword research, saving you lots of time compared to manual processes. 

As Google incorporates machine-learning technology to help users find the most reliable content for their searches, it’s important we evolve too. SERPs are continuously changing thanks to the insight that machine learning affords Google. 

At Candidsky, we love using super-useful automated features on Keyword Planner and Ahrefs that help us quickly develop our keyword research. To us, time saved on keyword research means more time spent on strengthening strategies for our clients!  

Image SEO

Images – they’re often perceived as a graveyard part of SEO, with marketers overlooking the keyword value they can bring. Images provide an opportunity to include semantic-related terms in content via the medium of alt text. Google’s crawlers can then recognise this and interpret the content in the image easily. Never neglect your image SEO – it really can provide precious value for your rankings! 

In a nutshell, keywords are still very relevant!

Adapting and evolving – that’s the formula to follow when deciding on your keyword strategy. Think of yourself as the consumer. Imagine what you would search for and what value you would gain from searching your niche. Consider this using data and automated tools to provide a statistical analysis evidencing your strategy. 

Keywords aren’t a thing of the past, but how Google interprets them is! If you need help developing a keyword strategy, contact our Manchester SEO agency today and get ahead of the curve.  

Need help targeting keywords against your competition? Contact our team today to get a step ahead of them.