Did Google Kill the Keyword?

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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.


Backlink Backlash with Google’s Disavow Link Tool

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The clarion call sounded over the weekend as SEO marketers took to their clients’ websites to feverishly tear down link builders off websites.  Back in April, Penguin waddled its way onto the SEO landscape penalizing websites for poor quality links.  Many websites found it almost impossible to recover from these link-based penalties.  This past Wednesday, (Oct.17th), Google announced the much anticipated “Disavow Links” tool in Google Webmaster Tools.

The good news?  The tool gives webmasters the ability to tell Google to “ignore” specific links and domains from poor quality link sources.  So if you got slammed by Penguin, this is the tool for you.  It essentially deletes the poor quality links that are harming your website.

The bad news?  By giving webmasters the ability to report bad links, this tool could be harmful to sites that make it too easy to get a link back to your site.  Old school backlink sources have been:

  • Forums
  • Blog Comments
  • Article Directories
  • Press Releases
  • Website Directories
  • Social Bookmarking Accounts

The worry on the street is the possibility that a penalized domain may also penalize any other sites that it links out to.  Noble Samurai’s Eugene Ware blogged about the disavow tool and what to do about it over the weekend – great article and worth a look.

I also checked out The Search Agency’s webinar, Ghosts of SEO Past – Grant did a great job spelling out what’s out and what’s in for search engine marketing.

What’s Out?

Grant’s webinar had some great information on what’s on the way out:

1) Stuffing:
Keyword stuffing is where you stick keywords into your meta tags or the content itself for the sake of putting the keyword into your content.  Now, keywords have their place, however, stuffing a keyword that has a high volume of clicks,  (let’s say the word “sex” ) when you’re selling flat irons (unless they’re very sexy flat irons…) is not the best tactic.  Remember, your keywords need to be relevant to the content (“Sunbeam flat irons”)

2) Spinning:

Spinning is replacing 1 word in text (ie burlington real estate,colchester real estate) and keeping all the rest of the content identical.  Make sure all of your pages contain unique, relevant content.

3) Redundant Content Creation
Using a keyword URL Target with redundancy is a no-no:
home rentals rentals.html
homes for rent

4) Paid Linking – It’s the new ‘Just Say No.’ Just don’t do it.

5) Bad linking: If you do too much internal linking, if it looks spammy, and you’ve over-optimized your site, you get dinged in rankings.

So What DOES Work?

Google’s getting very savvy when it comes to social media.  In fact, I’m starting to see the term “engagement” bandied about quite a bit.  So let’s take a look at what will work:

1)  Relevancy

This has been Google’s mantra since the beginning.  Does your page title match your metadescription?  Does it match the content on the page?  Will I find what I’m looking for when I click on your page?

2)  Content

Content is king.  It’s not redundant, cheesy, or peppered with useless keywords.  It’s relevant, engaging, inspiring, useful, entertaining.

3)  Engagement

This is what’s new in the SEO “babble.” (although it’s as old as time and should be on top of the list:)  Engagement.  “BUY NOW” “WATCH” “LEARN MORE” are the buzz words.  Engaging your clients to take an action is core to selling online.  Google’s watching how you engage, not just with lead capture, but also with social media.  Are you asking for a call to action from Facebook to click on a page to learn more?  More importantly, are OTHERS asking for the engagement?  Is it viral?

4)  Results

How can you know if it worked if you don’t even bother to measure the result?  Having Google Analytics on your website is paramount to knowing whether your clients are getting your message, if your website is helping you in reaching your goal.  Are you engaging clients or is your bounce rate off the charts?  If you can’t make heads or tails out of your Google Analytics, look me up and I’ll be happy to walk you through the reports you need to review to see how your website’s performing.

What to Do?

If you’ve given great content, if your page titles and meta descriptions clearly describe what I’ll find on your page, great!  Give yourself a biscuit.  If you’re having trouble with ranking, need to understand how to orchestrate your internet marketing better, I’m happy to help you out with a Got Clicks Tweak.