The Future of Keywords

Just when you finally finished adjusting your website strategy for Google’s Penguin algorithm update, Google throws you a new bone:  Penguin 2.0.  Once again, the new algorithm shines a light on naughty ‘black hat’ techniques, including one of the usual suspects:  unnatural keywords and keyword stuffing.

If you haven’t already started producing high quality content in a natural way, then you’re way behind.  For everyone else, the concept of natural keyword usage has become part of the normal daily routine.  Yet with Penguin 2.0 here, you now need to integrate your high quality content strategy with an enriched keyword strategy to produce maximum results.  There are plenty of places where you can begin to upgrade:

Use Keywords on Social Media

One of the biggest outcomes with Penguin 2.0 is that the Google algorithm got smarter with social.  This means it can more readily detect your influence on social media websites and reflects that influence in your rankings.

If you’re already using social media tools on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, then the content you are putting into your posts, tweets, and descriptions is being crawled and considered.  This doesn’t entitle you to change your content strategy; rather consider it an extension of your current strategy (you should still post for your audience, not for search engines).  Just like with your blog or web pages, apply the same natural quality, themes, and messages and your keywords will automatically appear.

Google’s Penguin 2.0 also factors in the info that people share, retweet, and repin, so the more traction you gain with influencers in the social media world, the better your site will do.  Bing and Yahoo calculate this too so expect to put more overall effort into creating engaging and share-worthy social media content.

Focus on Long Tail Keywords

By rewarding websites that create natural copy, Penguin 2.0 is also putting the spotlight on long-tail keywords.  These long-tail keywords, typically three to five words long, are much more descriptive than their simple keyword predecessors (think “6-drawer cherry wood childrens dresser” vs. “wood dresser”).  They’re also much less competitive too because of the specific nature of their content (lots of websites might sell “wood dressers”, but a smaller selection will offer that specific type).

With more and more content coming onto the web everyday, the Google algorithm is encouraging these long-tail keyword searches.  Just try your hand at Google Instant search.  Type in a word and the engine begins to recommend prevalent or predictable long tail searches.  In addition, user habits are changing.  Today, searchers are more likely to pose questions (“what store sells cherry wood childrens dresser”) or type long-winded conversational phrases (“store selling cherry wood childrens dresser near New York”) meaning these long-tailed keywords are becoming a more popular route to a specific set of websites.  So targeting your keyword usage and being more specific in your content creation will help you naturally lean towards these long-tailed keywords.

Put Keywords in “Content Silos”

For many websites, keywords vary significantly and may be all across the board due to engagement with multiple products, services, or content types.  In addition, Penguin 2.0 has put pressure on content managers to make their website content as naturally attractive as possible.

Instead of trying to fit lots of keywords everywhere on your website (essentially spreading your luck), the future lies in what we like to call “content silos”.  For example, a store might sell shoes, shirts, and nail polish.  Instead of listing all three products on every page to draw in visitors, the content is put into silos – so one page focused on shoes, one page focused on shirts, and one page focused on nail polish.  By creating content silos, you concentrate your keywords and your message to users (as well as crawlers).  It makes your pages more relevant and makes your content easier to find, comprehend, appreciate, and most importantly, share.

The Future Starts Now

The future of keywords is here, so it’s time to start strategizing.  Here are some tips:

  • Sign up for Google+ (Google’s preferred social media site) and use clever keyword-based posts
  • Use keywords in your Twitter (and now Facebook) #hashtags
  • Fit your keywords (naturally) into your Pinterest titles and descriptions
  • Investigate your keyword rankings and look for long-tail keyword solutions
  • Implement long-tail keyword usage in your blogs
  • Identify popular keywords that need a concentrated spot on your website (potential content silo candidate)
  • Review your entire website’s content strategy to determine if content silos are needed.  Don’t have a content strategy? We can help.

Do you have any other tips for improving keyword and website optimization?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!