Did Google Kill the Keyword?

Posted on

Is the Keyword out of style?
Is the Keyword out of style?

When Google sounded the death knell of the Keyword tool, I was heart-broken.  I’ve always loved playing with words – making it easy to find what your clients are looking for (hopefully, you and your website…) and Google making it phenomenally easy to research how people searched locally and globally. I loved writing the right keywords and page titles along with meaningful metadescriptions to perfectly tailor a customer’s search for their expectation of what greeted them from your page.  I loved seeing my research pay off with my client’s website showing on the first page of a targeted keyword search.

Now?  It’s not so easy to research (for free, anyway…) the behavior of an online patron.  The pay-per-click landscape has definitely shifted from the easy 3-line adword campaigns to more sophisticated PLA (Product Listing Ads).  Gone are exact phrase matches and heralded in are the graphical units driven by a product feed.  The former innocence of Google replaced by the creepy big-brother looking over your shoulder mentality of Facebook ads that harvest your every thought and whim for the sake of your demographic (and psychographic) data.

So is the keyword dead?  Not really.  But it forces marketers to think more like consumers – how do we make it easy for people to buy your products and services?  Where do they hear about you?  On a blog post?  On YouTube?  On an app? When they search on their mobile phone, are they more likely to turn to Siri?  Or your cousin in Kansas on Facebook?

The Last Click Attribution

What triggers the last click before a purchase is made?  It’s not dependent solely on a Google search anymore.  Just as video may have killed the radio star, apps, social media and voice search have put a dent in the traditional keyword search, no doubt.  In Dave Schwartz’s smart article asking if we’re reaching the end of the keyword era, I would say no.  Is it changing?  Oh yeah.  Is it more point at a picture and click based?  Definitely.  But I’m not willing to throw in the towel and face an “Idiocracy” apocalypse.  The word is still mighty – stories still need to be conveyed as an art form.  Killer copy still sells just as it did in the 80s with Gary Halbert’s timeless letters, it just translates differently.

It still comes down to the Big 3 Elements Google has touted for a decade now:

  • Relevance
  • Content
  • Engagement

In fact, go back in history and you’ll see these 3 ingredients are key to any enterprise whether online or off.  The last ingredient?  The Secret Sauce?  Desire.  Do you have what your clients want, need and are willing to pay you for?  If you have these key ingredients, it won’t matter what algorithm Google pitches or how Facebook positions your ads – what will matter is people willing to search for what you have to offer and you making it easy for them to find what they need.

It’s called a great product or offering great service and that never goes out of style.