In the world of digital marketing, search engine ranking is everything. It’s a constant point of conversation for those in virtually every industry, with the question “how do we rank?” arising at nearly every marketing meeting. And, for most businesses, this means a fixation on keywords.
While the importance of keywords can’t be understated – after all, these are the words and phrases web users utilize to generate relevant results online – it’s possible to put too many eggs in the keyword basket. Keyword usage, despite its relevance, is not the only thing that matters when it comes to content that ranks, and getting ahead may mean leaving a stalwart commitment to keywords behind.
Why Ranking Matters
In essence, the better a site ranks, the more likely it is to score a visit from web users. The sites Google ranks high – those with a strong presence, high-quality content, and an effective approach to marketing – are considered to be more valuable and reputable, and 75% of clicks go to results on the first page. This figure diminishes from there, leaving sites unlucky enough to appear on pages two, three, and beyond out in the cold.
How Long Ranking Takes
Due to the mechanics behind Google’s web crawlers, ranking isn’t an instant process. A great web presence builds value over time, and older sites often carry more clout than newer rivals on the scene. As one study found, the top-rated sites for any given keyword search are, on average, around two years old, showing that building a strong presence can take time. Only 22% of sites created in the last year rank at the top, demonstrating a need for long-term commitment in the search for a solid, stable rank. Domain authority, referring to the strength of a site’s backlink profile, makes a difference as well, and so does the volume of keywords searched. High-volume keywords can make ranking a near-impossible challenge, while low-volume keywords can result in a sky-high rank on a condensed time frame.
Is It Okay to Post Without a Target Keyword?
The short answer? Yes.
While incorporating keywords is certainly important, Google’s algorithms are now adept enough to pick up on concepts and link words, displaying hits for phrases that appear across a website rather than those found all in one place. Instead of writing for the sake of keywords, content marketers should be focused on creating content for a purpose, offering value to readers that transcend a simple vehicle for words and phrases. When planning your SEO and content strategy, think more about what you can give to your audience rather than what your content can do for you. When you take the focus off of keywords and rankings and put it toward developing your brand, you’re far more likely to produce content that packs a punch.
Finding the balance between ranking well and adding value isn’t always easy, but putting an emphasis on the latter can be worthwhile. While keywords are important, they’re not the only thing that matters, especially in securing a prized first-page rank!