If you have your finger on the pulse of inbound marketing news, you’ve no doubt seen a myriad of articles declaring SEO to be dead. In fact, people have been trying to declare it dead for years now, and will no doubt continue to do so for a number of years more. Currently, they seem to have a bit more grounds than usual, though. We’ve discussed before how Google has changed their algorithms so that keyword density—previously SEO’s bread and butter—is no longer nearly as big a factor when it comes to search results. And in fact, using your keywords more than two or three times in a single piece of content is said to get your page penalized, rather than promoted. So is this it? Is SEO really dead this time?
No. Rest assured that SEO will no doubt outlive us all. It has, however, changed its shape a bit the last few months. Here are some tips for SEO in the aftermath of keyword density.
Keyword density has always been only one way of boosting your search rankings. Another is inbound links. When people link to a page on your site using a particular phrase, future searches for that phrase are more likely to pull up that particular page. Google’s aim is to push the highest quality search results to the top, and they consider an outside source linking to your site to be a “vote” for the site’s quality. Of course, there are ways of using this to manipulate your results as well, and these methods can get you penalized, just like keyword stuffing. But partnering with a few similar sites and getting them to link to your content in exchange for linking to theirs, can be a great way of building your search rankings—in moderation, of course.
The popularity of content on social media doesn’t affect its ranking on Google. It is, however, a factor in Bing’s search algorithms, which should not be ignored. The more widely your page is shared across Facebook and Twitter, the higher it will rank in Bing search results. So encourage your followers to share your content with their friends and social circles.
Keywords are still a factor in search results across all the major search engines. They have to be. That’s how they determine the relevance of your content to a particular search. But the key is making sure the content really is relevant to what the user is looking for, not just a pile of random words to get people to click. So essentially, the focus is now on the keywords themselves, how they’re used, rather than on density. This means it’s still important to use the right keywords in the title of your post, the URL, the meta description, and of course, the content itself. But the focus is on how they’re used, not how often.
SEO is not dead. In fact, it’s more alive than ever. It’s been revamped to give real, relevant content a chance to float to the top, rather than succumbing to sneaky and underhanded keyword stuffing tricks. So the trick to getting your pages to rank highly is, in effect, the same as it’s always been: create high quality content that people will want to experience.