Here’s How Google’s Algorithm Changes Have Shifted Keyword Practices.

Once upon a time, in an age of the Internet not long ago, search engines such as Google (and Yahoo, and Bing, etc.) were a mystery. How and why certain pages landed on top was unknown, and digital marketers 1.0 were desperate to find out how to get their webpages on the first page of results.

And then, it became clear: keywords!

Keywords became the golden children in the dawn of the Internet as people began to realize that the more significant words they had in the title and body of their web pages, the more likely those pages were to rank on the first page if someone searched for that keyword in Google.

This practice became colloquially known as “keyword stuffing,” as people would stuff a keyword into a single article as many times as they could. For example, a blog post from a new furniture shop in Toronto may have looked like this:


We have opened a new luxury spa in Toronto. This new luxury spa in Toronto offers many different kinds of beauty and wellness services. This new luxury spa in Toronto is open every day at 10 am. The new luxury spa in Toronto wants you to be its newest customer….

… and on and on and on.

But then: the Panda attack. Back in 2011, Google rolled out an algorithm that became known as the Panda algorithm. Its main purpose was to reward sites with higher quality content and punish sites that published low-value, low-quality, and/or repetitive content. Cue digital marketers trying to figure out how to counteract this new algorithm.

Over the last five years, we have seen many different eras of search engine ranking: there was the rise (and subsequent fall) of the “top 10 list” and the “click bait” era, when every other article vowed to show us something we “absolutely would not believe!”.

But today, we know better, and so do search engines. Search engines have become a lot smarter in understanding what people are searching for and show pages that are in a similar geographic location as them. They will also show pages that have similar keywords to the ones they were searching — synonyms, adjacent words, extensions of words, etc. This in turn means that marketer can produce smarter content and still be rewarded.

Today, keyword stuffing does not help search engine ranking, but the use of smart, long-tail keywords still helps. As well, the same keyword does not need to be used multiple times: if you use a synonym of a keyword or talk about a similar phrase, Google will understand that you are still talking about the same content and provide that result to the searcher.

So, while it is still important to choose strong keywords for articles, it is just as important to produce quality content that dives deep into a concept without being repetitive: basically, exactly what your audience wants to read. Finally, the desires of the user and the success of a search engine ranking are lining up.

Want to know other SEO best practices? Download our FREE marketing guide, 7 Important Trends in SEO for 2016, today!

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