Traditionally, it was quite easy to rank on the first page of Google. You only had to hire a good copywriter with the ability to stuff several keywords in your content page. And that would guarantee you a spot on the first page of Google.
But that has since changed. Google has been evolving and is now bent on curbing this manipulation.
This has seen the advent of more special ranking algorithms such as the hummingbird, Rank Brain, and the Sematic Search. Such technologies are a paradigm shift from the keywords technology.
What does it mean to SEO content developers?
This implies that if you want to rank fairly well on Google, you have to look beyond the keyword. Additionally, unlike the previous ranking technologies that had keywords as the special ranking tool, the current technologies are hugely vague and have numerous possible ranking tools.
Most SEO experts have, therefore, delved into researching the criteria used to rank sites with these new technologies and have come with exciting discoveries. According to an analysis involving numerous keyword tests, researchers have narrowed down the current ranking influencers on Google to:
- Age of the page
- Use of HTTPS
- Length of on page content
- Social shares and backlinks to authority sites
- The URL length and relevance to the search
Does this signify the end of keyword ranking?
Any professional content creator can tell you the keyword ranking system is flawed and open to manipulation. People do anything to get their pages rank highly on Google. From stuffing their keywords in irrelevant content to use of black hat ranking techniques, the replaced system wasn’t an accurate reflection of page quality.
Nevertheless, the recent and immediate changes seem to no longer have regard for the keyword as a ranking tool. Pages that ranked highly on Google with their keyword rich content are nowhere near the first page today. The case is even worse for new pages that hoped to capitalize on the power of keyword to outrank more mature sites.
The number of sites ranking on the first page of Google with no more than one year of operation has since declined and their places taken over by aged sites that fulfill other ranking requirements and inclined to user friendliness.
User experience over keyword
Currently, the Google ranking systems seem to be laying more emphasis on the user experience and interaction with other sites as opposed to the use of keywords. For instance, when announcing the introduction of the Rank Brain algorithm, Google mentioned that it would also rank sites according to their mobile friendliness. This means that businesses with mobile friendly sites would be given priority over the rest on the overall ranking.
Though Google doesn’t announce the criteria it uses to rank sites, this hint of mobile friendliness was an indicator of an entirely different ranking course. The recent findings from the keyword analyses further support this user-friendliness and appeal being advocated by Google. For instance, sites that received massive social media shares of their content seem to have a higher chance of gaining better-ranking positions to their highly counterparts optimized counterparts in the same field.
Do you have to use the keyword?
This, however, doesn’t signal the death of the keyword ranking system. Despite the new changes the keywords still play a vital role in connecting the search to the site. It might have taken a backseat in ranking, but it isn’t forgotten. Rather, it should be now be seen a complementary tool to other stronger ranking concepts.
As the analysis results indicate, the recent algorithm changes tend to limit the site owners influence on the ranking of their site. But there remain some changes you can adopt to ensure favorable ranking. This applies to both new startups seeking to establish new business sites as well as sites with old domains. They include:
- Employ a shorter URL and have it coined around your sites primary keyword
- Ensure your domain name is HTTPS coded as Google seems to be on a mission to guarantee user security online.
- Instead of concentrating on keyword density, worry more about social shares as they will ensure faster rise the ranks.
- Backlink your page to authority content throughout your content.
Google algorithms are hard to decode. Professionals have continually worked on the best case scenarios and so far the best case today seems to lie in user friendliness. Borrow a leaf from this article and act fast in incorporating these techniques in your sites to improve your site ranking as well as counter the keyword redundancy shock.