Stop Thinking Keywords, Think Topic

The role of SEO appears to be in  topsy-turvy now. Even Google has changed its coat. The entire hullabaloo about keyword research promoted by Google for best SEO performance has literally gone down the drain. Queries (or rather Topics) have taken its place, sending keyword to the backseat fast. But why this abrupt change? There are reasons galore, but please read on to know more about it.

Even though keyword searches reigned supreme for the last several years, it has now dawned on Google (as also SEO professionals like us) that the process leaves many issues unresolved. Here is a typical keyword search posted by a common user.

 “Paris Métro Stations”

Now, if we examine things from Google’s point of view, which is currently more focused on the user’s INTENT at the time of the search which includes the searcher’s expectation and more importantly, which search result would be most thorough, there remains many ifs and buts. For instance, this key phrase could relate to any of the following issues.

  •  A schoolgirl looking for reference in order to complete her project on Paris Métro
  • Someone comparing the number of Paris Metro stations with those on the London Tube
  • Someone looking for a station located nearer to his/her home
  • A general inquiry

So, you can see, the topic or the context is more important in regard to search engine results instead of the mere keyword or key phrase.

Does This Mean That Keywords Aren’t important at All?

No; that is not the case. As a matter of fact, till people are doing language-driven search, keywords will surely remain pretty important. However, what Google is trying to say boils down to the fact that we now need to stop looking only at keywords and start looking at queries that carry both explicit and implicit aspects of an issue. Also, the explicit aspect could be considered as a chain of keywords plus additional metadata. Nevertheless, we need to be focusing on what an user is looking for instead of concentrating on the key phrases.Moreover, Google’s new move from Indexing to Understanding indicates that the link between the keywords the user types in and those Google prefers is no longer as direct as it was during earlier days.

What About Ranking Sans Keyword?

Well, rankings happen for many reasons; the keyword or query is just the forerunner of the process. You optimize a page to be the strongest it can be after you’ve made it the best page for a specific need or topic. There are multiple variations of keywords for any one topic, and therefore your focus should be on the page and the topic, not just one or two of potentially hundreds of keywords.