There has never been a more challenging time than now for websites to rank for keywords and drive essential traffic
However we still believe that keywords have to play a role in search and if you adopt the right approach, thus thinking about your audience first and then developing your website, content and social comms with keywords in mind then they can work for you.
What is interesting to us is people are still using keywords as a reflection of campaign success. Google Hummingbird is leading the way and telling us that content is the way forward and engagement will help search results yet the fall back position of keyword rankings seems to become the default for many online marketing companies.
The recent pulling of keyword data from analytics surely is the warning sign to both optimisers and clients a like that their focus should be on developing campaigns that are user centric.
When you think about it’s been getting more and more awkward to establish accurate keyword rankings for the last few years with Google introducing more locally based results and varying the rankings according to user habits (if you’re logged in or not).
From recent internal tests on automated keyword reporting tools such we found that 88% of ranking were actually incorrect, largely due to not taking into account GEO-IP settings and their interpretation of results based on a url, indeed we found results on the first page that the systems had noted on page 50!
Away from the automated tools there’s always the manual approach, however if you’ve tried to check 100+ keywords manually you’ll appreciate how difficult this is and again is open to human error.
All said done the best way to understand how people ultimate reach your site is Google analytics, the content they’re landing on and the source of traffic (if it’s social media, back track the post that made them come through to the site).
Using keyword tracking tools is quickly becoming harder to do and with limited reliability it’s better to take a step back understand your audience and then create meaningful content that will bring them to you.
Today, content is king and links are dead (or dying out), well sort of, naturally looking links are still good (excellent if they’re well thought out) and this comes back to content. Create good content, syndicate it well on your social channels and your people will come to you. If they like what they see they will talk and you will build your presence naturally.
Don’t forget content is not selling, its engagement and a softer way to persuade people you’re the company of choice. Make your articles helpful and informative and people will stay on your site, explore and find out more (this is good from a brand point of view and for your Google analytics stats).
If they like what they see they will come back and from a conversion point of view a repeat improves your conversions up to 70%. Finally content will be shared and your presence will be spread across multiple channels well beyond the traditional reach of marketing. If you want the edge focus on developing unique content that is completely focused on your audience.
So what have we have we’re learnt in 2013, change your digital marketing approach, abandon mass-link building, understand your target audience and develop content that completely focused on engaging with them, don’t spread yourself too thin, it’s pretty simple when you think about it.