Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation

How Keyword Research is Evolving

December 23, 2013

SEO is growing up, evolving, maturing. Similar to the way a child starts out learning a few simple words and then gradually progresses to long sentences, SEO is graduating from a focus on simple keyword matching to a focus on knowledge and concepts, and better answers to user queries.

Let’s face it – human beings don’t think in terms of simple search terms and keywords. Our minds revolve around ideas, concepts, and topics. We are curious, and want answers to questions, and solutions to problems. We want information that is reliable, truthful, and that will add value to our lives. The words we use have context, and relationship to each other.

With this in mind, search engines are changing to try and understand and take into account the meaning behind the words we use when searching on the internet, to enable us to find more complete and comprehensive answers to our queries.

How does this affect keyword research?

Keywords still have relevance in SEO, but keyword research is evolving. The development of semantic search that is focused more on context and meaning rather than on matching specific keywords means that it’s time to start doing more work on concept research rather than just simple studies on keyword use in order to boost rankings.

What is involved in concept research?

A ‘concept’ can be referred to as a thought or idea formed in the mind. It is way more than a string of text.

Concept research is therefore based on the richer meaning behind the words entered into a search engine. Depending on the user, the query entered could have any number of meanings. Search engines are working to allow for this and provide broader and richer results enabling us to select the most relevant answers to our queries, even if the results are not always a direct keyword match.

This needs to be taken into account when doing keyword research. It means allowing for a broader range of queries than simple and often somewhat unrelated words. We now need to use synonyms, and a wide range of sentences and long-tail phrases relating to concepts, questions and ideas – not merely research the most popular words.

Updated tools reflect the changes

When it comes to keyword research, tools are also evolving to allow for semantic search. Keyword Planner and Google Trends for instance have replaced the old Google Keyword Tool.

It might also help to understand the factors that are involved in the results produced by search engines. Keyword re-occurrence is only one factor. Others include prior searches, and the information other people have searched for – meaning that keywords alone have a more limited application to getting noticed on the web than they once might have done.

What’s also encouraging and interesting is that it might be possible to create new phrases and concepts through content. As long as content is of high quality, original and authoritative, it may actually have an influence on the future direction of keywords and phrases.

It’s also vital to produce fresh site content on a regular basis – especially as search engines often base search results on the latest and freshest trusted content on a topic, as opposed to just static informational pages. Content should not only be informative and search engine optimised, but also sharable and preferably back-linked by others.

Good SEO is as important as ever but the techniques, including keyword research, are evolving. Effective SEO now might mean taking a more broad-based approach when it comes to your internet presence and marketing.

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By Bill Vasiliadis

By Bill Vasiliadis

Bill Vasiliadis is an Australian SEO and Digital Marketing Consultant with over 20 years of online experience. He has helped businesses of all sizes increase the return on investment from their online marketing spend.

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