Marketing Madness

Matt Cutts: The Death of Keywords

As a greater percentage of web searches are performed on mobile devices, and even desktops are beginning to adopt voice search features it is clear that the way people are searching is changing.  Individuals who are speaking their searches rather than typing them typically behave differently.  They often use a more natural sounding search which is phrased more like a question.  As more and more people begin using voice search options like Siri or OK Google it will require marketers to adjust their keyword strategies.

Even the head of Google search spam, Matt Cutts has chimed in about how voice searches are affecting searches both today and in the future.  He acknowledges that people are more likely to use natural language and less likely to use search operators and keywords.  He went on to say, “At some point, we probably have to change our mental viewpoint a little bit.”

Cutts said that this shift is already in the works for Google and that the aim is to always improve the search results for the customer whether they are typing in their search or speaking it.  In addition, people use many words differently when speaking compared to typing.  The word “and”, for example, is used in search engines today to narrow a search to only include results that have both the topic before and the topic after the word included on the page.  When people speak this word it is often used to try to get additional information.

While keywords are still an important part of SEO and marketing today, this will likely change over the coming years as people continue to use more and more voice commands.  Search engines will need to keep getting smarter when providing results as well.  With voice searches there are many different ways to say the same thing, especially when regional and cultural differences are taken into account.

What impact do you expect to see from these changes?  Are you still using keyword focused SEO strategies on your sites?

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Michael Levanduski

Michael Levanduski is the assistant editor of Performance Marketing Insider, and an experienced freelance writer. He writes content for a wide range of sites in virtually every niche, though he specializes in technical writing as well as creating content for the performance and internet marketing industry. Michael was born in Grand Rapids, MI where he still lives with his wife and three children.

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  1. Finally a question for Matt that is interesting.
    I however think there is no major change to keywords and how they are used in the near future. “and” will most likely just be removed in the voice search.

    1. Possibly, but qualifiers like “and” are used by people for a reason. Simply removing it could very well change the meaning of the search and therefore the results.

      I think the more difficult part will be accounting for regional terms of speech. I’m sure Google and the other search engines will come up with something.

  2. Many Parameters such as going social for SEO is not at all a great idea for Keyword Ranking but yes if you want brand visibility and visits for social by creative ideas. So far many comments on youtube webmaster central shows you the filters are really not working for Google Effectively. Go for Maps to target local audience (this has been more successful method).

  3. I doubt that this will affect “keywords” per-se.

    The way we title posts now are “how to fix your iphone”, and someone searches “How do i fix my iphone”. Google will display “how to fix your iphone”.

    the “Searching Experience” is becooming more and more of an interaction between the user and search engine, and from what we’ve seen; Google loves interactive content. It would make sense, then, that Google is aiming at an interactive-search experience. adjust your content likewise. Write for users, add interactive / interesting content (pictures, videos, etc.), and you will do well.

    Google is leaning heavily towards authority sites and in THAT manner, it’s true: you won’t need keywords to rank (once you’re an authority).

    If Google decides that you’re an authority on fixing iphones, your site will rank (to the front page) regardless of your on-page SEO and backlinks.

  4. I think voice recognition still has a way to go before it could be used as a keyword tool but it will get there eventually.
    “Authority sites” is definitely the buzz word that aspiring webmasters need to consider & aim for. Google after all is a logic based concept and an “Authority Site” is surely the logical conclusion to a service/product related web page no?
    Part of that is related to Location & GPS info which just about every electronic device is providing now. Your IP address shows location and also records your browsing subject matter. Phone search-GPS even cameras are showing a GPS location when taking images.
    Keep buying stuff & it’s all being tracked & stored in the DB ready to be crunched by the evolving Algorithm.
    Err…but then there’s Facebook.

  5. Way to go, Matthew!
    I’m currently preparing for an industry seminar I’m giving entitled: “SEO is dead – long live SEO” – and I’m smiling all over my face with smugness after having just read your post. You da man! Rest of the world: let’s not get hung up on the technology & reporting AFTER THE FACT. Instead, let’s focus on delivering a great experience in the now. Groundbreaking it is not. But let’s not get me started, eh?

  6. With the new Google Hummingbird algo changes and the results of encrypted searches not being passed onto the Google Analytics user the use of and research of keywords is getting harder and harder!

  7. I had always doubted that Keywords is going anywhere anytime soon. In the early days of SEO, you could stuff your website with some keywords and META tags it would rank well. SEO is much more complex today.

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