Think keywords are the bread and butter of SEO? Think again. Keyword rankings should no longer be the primary focus of your SEO strategy. Yes, it's still very important that your longtail keyword shows up in your page title, URL, subheaders, image descriptions, and meta descriptions, HOWEVER the data related to keywords is not 100% accurate. The reasons behind this can be broken down into three points — personalization, device and location.
Google will deliver results that are personalized to a user based on their search history. This means that if I were to search for a query like “electric cars” and I’d previously been browsing the Tesla website, it’s a possibility that Google would tailor the rankings of the search results to show Tesla near the top.
This wouldn’t be the case for someone that hasn’t previously visited Tesla’s website, which makes it very tough to determine which website actually ranks #1 (because it can be different from one person to the next).
Device and Location
Personalization plays a huge part in search results, but what matters even more are query factors like device and location. One of Google major advancements in search over the past couple of years has been the ability to gather data and use it to yield the most relevant results to a user.
This may sound confusing. Hubspot did a great job putting this into a real life scenario:
“Go back to 2010 and a search for “Boston restaurants” would yield a list of relatively generic websites that either talk about Boston restaurants or maybe are a restaurant. Fast-forward to 2018 and a simple search for “Boston restaurants” will arm Google with a whole lot more information than before. They’re able to see which device you’ve searched from, where you’re located whilst you’re searching, even if you’re currently on the move.”
Frequency Doesn’t Matter
Great news for all the writers out there. You no longer need to repeat your keywords at least 7 times in the body copy anymore. This is a tactic that no longer works. Marketers who have been keyword-centric in the past should start learning about the other methods of improving SEO, such as topic-clusters.
Bottom line is that Google has gotten a lot smarter. It can use semantic search to determine the best results to display. Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results.