What's Your Relevancy?

Adrianna Mieras

Senior SEO Strategist

The Relevancy of SEO Keywords

Ah relevancy. You’ll hear marketers talk about the importance of relevancy all the time. Relevant content. Relevant messaging. Relevant keywords. But what does it really mean to be relevant, and how do you go about finding these types of keywords to use in your content? You’d hate to miss the mark on this one and end up being irrelevant, which basically means the end of times for your brand in Google’s mind.

As little as a few years ago, search engine optimization was largely based on using the right keywords. All marketers had to do was find the right keywords to use, and their website would be ranked highly. That’s because Google collected data about a website using the keywords that were included in the pages and links. Companies would then measure their success based on how they ranked for their target keywords. It was a simple relationship that worked.

Now, this trend has changed, which is why some assume that SEO had died in the process. But this is simply not true. Keywords are still crucial to your brand’s online presence and your individual campaigns. The difference is that the relationship between keyword and search visibility has become more complicated.

Do Keywords Still Matter?

First off, let’s talk about whether keywords still matter in the grand scheme of the game. The answer: Yes. They do. Google still needs some easy benchmarks to figure out what your company does, and keywords are a great way to determine this. The keywords you use in your content tell Google what your company has to offer and who you’re trying to reach.

For this purpose, where your keywords are placed is far more important than how many are used. So before you start stuffing your content with “local residential painting,” remember that how and where you use the keywords matter most.

Google breaks down your site into key areas, taking meta information and headers as priority. The body of the content takes second, and sidebars and footers take third. For Google to best understand what you do, include your keywords in high-priority areas. Use different but similar keywords so that you’re not repetitive, and absolutely do not stuff the text with keywords.

Google Cares About the Meaning of Your Keywords

Now that you understand the role that keywords play for Google, let’s move on to what Google likes to see in terms of relevancy. When Google scans your website, it no longer looks for relevant keywords to pair to user queries. That would be too easy. This is how websites got away with spammy behavior in the past; they would stuff keywords within any content and Google would see them as being a legitimate resource for the user.

Today, Google has grown up and is far more sophisticated. It now is able to scan your website and form its own conclusions about the type of business you are and how people view you. To help Google build a good image of your company, use a variety of similar keywords in your content. Google will pick up on “”local residential painting,” “residential painting services” and “paint services for homeowners” and put them into the same category.

Bottom line: It’s best to build a website that focuses on a particular meaning rather than a particular keyword.

Google Also Uses Semantic Search

Back in 2013 when the Hummingbird update was released, semantic search became a built-in product of it. Just as Google gathers meaning from your website based on the content and keywords rather than the keywords alone, it also uses semantic search to derive meaning from user searches. This has greatly improved the relevancy of search results that are returned for the user.

Let’s look at an example. If you were to type in “cheap Italian in Belmar,” before semantic search existed, you would have gotten a nice list of websites that contained “cheap,” “Italian” or “Belmar” in them. Heck, you could have learned how to throw a cheap Italian festival in Belmar based on your results! The problem was that Google was limited in its function and could only read each word separately.

Thanks to semantic search, Google now understands the meaning behind the search query. A search for “cheap Italian in Belmar” tells Google that you’re looking for an inexpensive Italian restaurant in Belmar NJ, and it will return restaurants that fit this description.

Easy Navigation Earns Brownie Points

The overall structure and navigation also plays a role in SEO, something that you didn’t have to think of years ago. If your website is easy to search, users will have an easier time finding the information they need. Part of this organization comes from using the right keywords in the right places. Another part comes from how your content is organized.

Use the right keywords to title your pages appropriately, include a crawlable site map and use a header bar to allow for easy navigation. You can also improve navigation by interlinking your internal content. Look for keyword phrases that can be used to connect to other pieces of content on your website. This will help users stay on your site longer and boost authority.

Also, don’t forget to follow Google’s best practices for structure and navigation. Include a header, body, sidebars and footer to help Google scan through your site.  

...So Does Site Speed and Security

A final piece of information to keep in mind is the speed and security of your website. No, these don’t have anything to do with your keywords per se, but they do have an impact on how well your site ranks. If it’s slow and clunky, no one will want to use your website regardless of the keywords that you use or how relevant your content is. You may have run into this problem yourself when doing research. If the content looks great but you have a hard time accessing it, you’ll move onto something else.  

Some of the best ways to improve the speed of your site is by making sure your cache is cleared, your images are optimized and that you use plugins sparingly. If you can provide a good user experience, this will reward you just as much as your keywords.

Conclusion

Using relevant keywords in your content is an important part of SEO, but you need much more than this to make your site rank well. Not only do you need to choose your keywords carefully but also place them in the right sections and build supportive content around them. The framework should include accurate and relevant content that speaks to your audience, smooth navigation and a fast site that is enjoyable to use.

By following these tips, you can make certain that your website will be well-indexed and understood by Google. This is the way to achieve the award in relevancy.

About the Author: Adrianna Mieras

Adrianna is an SEO Strategist at SEMGeeks. She holds a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Digital Communication, Information and Media from Rutgers University. She takes pride in her work and thrives off of "position one" success. Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Adrianna spends her free time riding her bike along the beach and swimming in the ocean. She has a passion for people, places and new experiences. It is rare to find her without a smile on her face.

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