As you may have heard, HubSpot is sunsetting its Keywords tool. Many people are upset about this decision, as keyword ranking has long been a measure of the success of your SEO strategy. However, the decision to eliminate this tool came from the changes in Google’s ranking algorithms. In order to understand this decision, it’s important to understand these changes and their role in causing rank to become an increasingly irrelevant measurement.
Search Has Changed
The way people perform searches has changed. It’s rare that people search simple keywords anymore. Instead, most searchers opt for long-tail, more conversational searches. Part of this change comes from the rise of voice search. However, the biggest reason for this change in the way people search is that the internet is so flooded with content that specifics are essential to yield relevant results. You will find thousands of relevant search results for any given topic, so long-tail searches are the only way to get the answers you’re really looking for.
Google Has Changed
In order to respond to the changes in the way people search, Google has changed its algorithms to yield more relevant search results. Google can now understand the idea behind a long search phrase, rather than searching for exact matches to each individual word in the phrase. Through machine learning, Google also works to make searches most relevant to each individual searcher, based on their previous searches. In general, Google is changing their algorithms in order to do as much work as possible for the searcher.
The Importance of Keywords
Although keywords aren’t as important as they used to be, these changes in no way mean that keywords are irrelevant. You should still have keywords that your website focuses on, but you should rethink them. Rather than targeting specific words that you think your potential customers will look for, you should ask yourself: what do you want to be known for? Keyword research will still be useful for this approach, as you can use what your customers are searching for as a focus point for your content. Your keyword strategy should no longer involve keyword stuffing. Instead, you should make an effort to make your website a valuable resource for information surrounding your target keywords.
The Role of Google Rank
The goal of your SEO strategy will always be to show up on Google when potential customers search. However, the changes in Google indicate that we need to rethink numerical rank. Studies have shown that there is a 0% consistency in rank. One big reason for this inconsistency is that Google personalizes its results to each individual searcher. For this reason, keyword ranking and difficulty will vary from person to person. Therefore, “ranking number one” isn’t a good measure of success and it should no longer be your goal. Instead, you should focus on showing up on Google for overarching topics that are important to your business rather than specific keywords.
Reasons for the Tool Elimination
These changes in search, Google algorithms, keyword importance, and the role of rank have caused HubSpot to sunset its Keywords tool. The tool measures the Google rank and ranking difficulty of various keywords, which simply are no longer relevant measurements of success. Additionally, Google is beginning to withhold this information to prevent marketers from obtaining unfair advantages on Google. In fact, Google will penalize websites that attempt to use this information and cause them to rank last on the site, no matter the search. The combination of the growing irrelevance of this tool and the threat of a Google penalty has caused HubSpot to do away with the Keywords tool and develop the Content Strategy tool instead.
Changing Your Strategy
The changes in the importance of keywords and ranking mean that you might want to rethink your content strategy. Fortunately, HubSpot’s new Content Strategy tool can help. In order to rank for your key topics and services, you should consider restructuring your content into pillar pages. The Content Strategy tool organizes all of your content including blogs, pillar pages, and links into topic clusters. Not only will this organization help you understand the most important topics of your site, but it will also show you where your content is lacking. Any holes in your content will be easily visible, allowing you to fill the holes and have valuable content covering every relevant topic.
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