Keywords were once the reigning champion of SEO; they essentially dictated your success in ranking high with the search engines. If you knew how to select keywords with a high search volume and low competition and could implement those keywords on your site, there was a high chance you'd get all the traffic you'd ever wanted - simple right?!
But are keywords still valuable and will they continue to be?
On hearing this, you might think that keywords are a bit old hat and that SEO has moved on, but this isn't exactly true. Even though Google doesn't use keywords the same way it used to, they can still help Google understand the function and relevance of the content on your site … and doing keyword research can actually help you in a number of areas online.
Keywords aren't just for SEO
Keyword data is exceptionally useful when you use paid advertising with Google; in fact, it's almost impossible to succeed without it. Keyword research can also help you target key niches in social media campaigns as well as uncover popular topics and sub-topics. It also helps us to find niche publications to target with our content!
Topic research is as valuable as keyword research
The primary purpose of keyword research is to find out what people are searching for, and then provide that for them. For example, instead of doing keyword research to find which exact phrases your users are leveraging in search engines, you can do topic research to find out what types of content your users might like to read. Conducting research this way will enable you to generate more natural-language topics and target long-tail keyword phrases more naturally.
Keywords are as valuable as a listening tool
Every day, consumers perform billions of searches, type billions of posts on social media platforms, and write about millions of topics. All this information can be aggregated to tell you exactly what's on their minds: how they're behaving, what's important to them, and what they're interested in seeing and then we can tailor our content to that!
Keyword strategy hasn't finished evolving
Google released RankBrain late last year as a machine-learning modification to the way that Hummingbird works - but this didn't have a dramatic effect for searchers or search optimisers, but don't be surprised if we see some new twists and turns in the evolution of keywords and keyword phrases in the near future.
Keep your eyes peeled!