Marketing Landscape – Keywords Don’t Matter As Much As You Thought

The use of keywords, long-tail keywords and on-page search engine optimization of words has been a pretty established tactic for more than a decade. I still remember with websites used “Monica Lewinsky” in their business website, thinking they would get traffic off the hype of a scandal.

Like every marketing trend or tactic, it takes longer than expected to catch on with the business owners and CEOs.  And so, more than ever (a decade late), I hear questions about keyword-this and keyword-that.

I am going to say something shocking, in a couple of paragraphs, about how ridiculous the keyword question is, so I’ll do my best to tell a nice little story to put keywords into the proper marketing landscape.

Keywords are like building blocks.

Keywords are like building blocks.

My two sons love Legos.  They collect and build all sorts of forts and vehicles, then they break them, get creative, and rebuild something new.  A keyword is like one Lego block; we’ll just call it the standard black, 8 pegged building block.  All the creativity, all of the creation that a kid can create out of Legos never started with a 8 pegged block.  They never looked at a block on the ground and picked it up and said, “I can make a cool X-wing fighter out of this black, 6 pegged standard block.”  And I never said, “Wow that black, 8 pegged block really made your off-road vehicle perfect.”  

Well, let me answer the first question as bluntly as I can.

Keywords don’t matter as much as you think.

Just like one Lego block does not matter much.  Yes, they are part of the creation, but they are not the key to the story.

That may be shocking to some, and a relief to others, but let me elaborate with some actual business reasons.

Content matters, context matters, consistency of message matters, and yes the building blocks of your story and content are words…. but in no way are keywords the “KEY.”  The actual key is writing authoritative content.  

For my kids, the Lego creation matters, the final product matters, not a specific block they used.  It is the totality of the Legos, not a “key block.”

So, the challenge with my comment about “keywords don’t matter,” is that in order for search engines to classify your content, they have to break it down into bite-sized snippets.  This data can then be combed through by servers and classified to be found. Well, that was ten years ago… and the people at Google are way smarter than the rest of us.

So, while Google does look at words in your content, they are more able to classify your content as it relates to context that just one word.  Google’s algorithms look at hundreds of keys to come up with the best results.  But, I would argue more than ever, that the “keyword” should not be your focus.

So, the “key” is writing great content, and yes include some important words, but don’t write to the word.  So, stop worrying about keywords. Worry about producing regular amounts of great content, you’ll find that the creative process will include plenty of your ideas and “keywords.”

Get started. Write a 400-600 word story about every product or every service you offer.  Be the expert about your business, and the authority about your story, and you’ll find that the black, 8 pronged Lego was not the key to your success, but one of the building blocks.  Sometimes it helps to create a master keyword list, or even long-tailed keywords to help spur some creativity; use it to sprinkle in words into your story.

Only after your website contains great content, and you are tracking your results through analytics and inbound marketing tools should you go back and worry about keywords. Because when you have the data, you can make little tweaks to your copy that really help your keywords pop to the top of search, and Google loves that.  Tweaking the keywords when are close to the top of a search term can matter, but it can only matter within the context of your larger story.

Just do like my sons do: they finish their creation, play with it a bit, then realize that a pirate would never have a light-saber, and they take the light-saber off their creation and replace it with a pirate sword… making their creation just about perfect in their dad’s eyes.

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