Today search engine rankings take into account other metrics, such as social media, context of a particular topic, navigation and site design.
Making sure your site ranks on Google relies exclusively on the changes Google makes to its algorithm.
Which raises an interesting question – do keywords even matter anymore?
They are still important – strategically inserting keywords ensures you rank highly for particular topics (unless you’re using them way too much) – but there are other things that may matter a little bit more now.
AussieWeb chief executive Monte Huebsch says in the old days, "we were able to have anywhere between three and seven per cent of a keyword repeated on a page, and that was a density that worked,” he says. “But Google became smarter.”
Huebsch says search engine marketing (SEM) is no longer just about the keywords, but about a website’s entire content. That means it’s in your favour to have as much rich, original content as possible – like blog posts from an individual author.
“Let’s say I’m trying to be found for pasta recipes. Rather than repeat those words 17 times, Google knows that it should be looking for other words like pesto and cannelloni.”
“It’s so important now that writing is contextually sensitive, and not just a repetition of a keyword. Google recognises that much more quickly.”
Here are a couple of other metrics Google is tracking beyond just the basic keyword structure:
Having crystal-clear site navigation is a fundamental for a solid website, but too often it’s forgotten. For many website managers it can be a hassle to categorise all those pages, but unless Google sees a solid navigation structure it won’t rank your site properly.
And more than that, it may actually downgrade you if you don’t have a solid structure in place. For instance, if you’re putting products in the wrong categories or not providing enough contextual copy around their descriptions, Google isn’t going to think of you too highly.
This is a new one, but something businesses need to keep in mind. Recently Google has been taking a site’s speed into account when ranking you, especially on smartphones, as most browsing is being done on handheld devices.
The faster your mobile sites load, the better off you’re going to be with regard to rankings. But remember, you shouldn’t strip away features just to get a faster load and always balance usability with speed.
Keywords are still important, of course, but nowhere near as important as they used to be – and just like anything else in SEM, they need to be used in conjunction with a variety of other tactics.