The Changing Landscape of Keywords

The Changing Landscape of Keywords
 February 28, 2018

Whether you’re trying to optimize your website to perform better on search results or you’re interested in putting together a paid advertising campaign, you’ve probably thought a lot about different keyword strategies and how you can leverage their power to grow your business.

As you know, different keyword strategies and tips have been circulating the internet for years. From optimizing your website at a page level for organic SEO to using Moz tools to optimize your Google AdWords campaign, there have been profound advancements and adaptations to how professionals approach keywords and unlock their true value.

2018 is gearing up to be another exciting year for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and keywords as a whole. The world of keyword research and how professionals leverage their strength to boost sales and ranking is rapidly changing. To help you stay ahead of the curve we’ve put together a list of top changes and how they are going to affect businesses like yours.

Organic Search Rankings

For years, keywords have been a central topic of focus when talking about search rankings for websites and landing pages. Professionals across the world developed numerous strategies to optimize their sites and show up first on search engine results pages for specific queries. As you know, some strategies have been successful, and others have been phased out over time.

As personalized content becomes a central focus for search engines and advertisers alike, keywords are beginning to play a smaller role in how content gets in front of a user’s eyes. As sites and search engines cookie user’s data, the delivery of content is relying more and more on user’s past search behavior and less on keywords.

In the past when someone would type a simple query into a search engine like “t-shirts”, sites like Google and Bing would refer to their databases and provide a list of results that were most relevant to the query and were from credible sites. You would see everything from how to make t-shirts, t-shirts on sale, and maybe even something out of the box like how to tie-dye your t-shirts.

Now search engines are referring to keywords as only one factor for search results and placing a higher emphasis on a user’s prior browsing data and site cookies. Now when you search for t-shirts, you’ll probably see results from sites that you’ve visited in the past few weeks. You might see ads displayed from Amazon, Walmart, or even videos you’ve previously watched on YouTube.

Paid Search Advertising

Whether you prefer the simplicity of Price-Per-Click campaigns or are interested in display and video ads, keywords have long played a pivotal role in the success of paid search campaigns. Tools like Moz Keyword Explorer and Google’s Keyword Planner have helped millions of professionals around the world tailor their ads around appropriate keywords and reach targeted audiences.

Technology and user preferences are changing the way advertisers reach consumers across different markets and industries. Voice Search on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are having a profound effect on the types and lengths of keywords advertisers are using.

In the past, ads were optimized for one or two keywords based on the context of the ad and text. As more users are performing searches using voice search technology, search engines like Google are showing a preference for ads that feature long-tail keywords the closely resemble users natural voice pattern.

Instead of having an ad rank for the keyword of “Italian restaurant”, search engines like Google are using a phrase match method to match ads to keywords like “authentic Italian restaurants near me” and using user’s locations and prior browsing information to provide them with relevant and quality results.


Tying into the topic of user preferences and previous search behavior, remarketing ads are becoming more prevalent on Google’s display network. Instead of showing ads simply for keywords, advertisers are using browser data to display relevant ads to users that have visited their websites.

For example, if your company manufactures furniture, you could target and display ads to users who visit chair related pages, table related pages, and even who look at your most recent products. By using a simple JavaScript code, advertisers can completely bypass the keyword research process and show ads to more qualified users who have previously visited their site. This usually leads to improved campaign metrics and a higher ROI in respect to Click Through Rates (CTR), Conversions, and increased website traffic.

Content Strategy

If you’re a marketing coordinator/director, copywriter, or are interested in making a powerful impact on the organic SEO of your website, refining your content strategy is a must. Many SEO experts preach the importance of keywords and how optimizing your blogs, product/service pages, and newsletters will make a positive impact on your ranking in the future.

Hubspot has an interesting approach on keyword optimization for websites and recommends that users focus on topics versus pages. For example, many websites tailor their keywords to a specific page like products, services, home, etc. As users and keywords are becoming more refined, websites are showing a shift in keyword methodology from focusing simply on pages to topics/concepts.

For example, for our website, instead of inserting keywords like SEO, PPC, and responsive web design into a Custom Website Design page, we optimize our site around the entire topic and feature content that supports this topic. We have blogs, videos, case studies, and other areas that help promote ourselves as a leader in this market.

This goes beyond simple page optimization and helps more areas of our website rank for these valuable keywords. This, in turn, helps improve our pageviews, bounce rate, and the quality of our traffic overall.

2017 was a phenomenal year for keywords. From more refined tools to experts sharing their knowledge and expertise, keywords have evolved from simple text in an add or page to an ever-changing challenge for marketers and web developers alike.

2018 is beginning to show more and more of this changing landscape and is requiring all of us to change our approaches and methods to be successful in the future. For the latest in web development, SEO, Keywords, and marketing, Think VIG!