Google keeps changing its rules and its algorithm all the time, and every few months a new “groundbreaking” revolution comes to shake the earth under the poor SEO experts’ feet. Through 2016 and 2017, all Google updates moved towards quality-oriented content that focuses on user intent. It looks like that the newer Panda, Penguin and Pigeon algorithms changes can now easily tell the difference between quality writing and keyword-stuffed, thin content pages. However, keywords are all but dead, and they’re still as important as they have always been. You just need to adapt your keyword strategies to the new rules, however, so here are a few golden rules to efficiently choose them.

  1. Avoid Keyword stuffing at all costs

Although keyword stuffing was a bad practice even back in 2012, some people still believe that there’s some “secret formula” that will grant them super-powers to power-rank a page. For all those out there who didn’t realize it yet, shoving keywords down Google’s throat is not going to help your website. Quite the contrary indeed. The most important aspect that defines a content’s quality today is its quality. The more natural your article flows, the better, so avoid unnatural sentences just to slap an additional keyword in it to reach that “magical” keyword density percentage. It’s just a mirage and you’re probably risking an over-optimization penalty.

  1. Find the right keywords your users are actually looking for

Keyword combinations are not all exactly the same. Maybe you optimized your page for “cool clothes,” but if what people are looking for is “funny clothes,” nobody is going to find your website at all, no matter how great your content is. Real people search patterns can be hard to guess sometimes. Picking better keywords after a thorough research means increasing your chances to meet your user’s goals, which, in turn, will bring you a higher conversion rate. There are plenty of SEO optimization tools available that could help you narrow down which keywords you really want to optimize your pages for.

  1. Look out for competition

If other people do it, then it must work right? Well, not necessarily, but it’s still good to give a look to what your competitors are ranking for. Knowing what other websites are optimizing for and how many advertisers are bidding for a given keyword will give you a hint on where you should focus on. It helps to establish a better conversion opportunity, and at the same time will tell you how hard you are going to fight to seize that competitor’s position.

  1. Make full use of LSI

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is one of the methods Google use to understand what people are looking for. People who searched a keyword may also have searched other extremely similar keywords, or just used synonyms which more or less mean the same thing. The more your content is full of LSI keywords, the better it will rank for the keyword you’re looking for as well as any other similarly relevant one.

  1. Look out for long tail queries

Long tail queries speak out loud what your users intentions are. People look for stuff on the internet in the most unpredictable ways, and new ways to look for the same content come up every day. You cannot really research on long tail keywords, because many of them have nearly zero searches. However, they also make up almost 40% of Google traffic volume every day, so you definitely want to invest your time in finding the long tail queries for your niche. The more you know about them, the more you can predict what people really are hoping to find inside your website. And the longer is your page content, the more keywords you’re going to catch, and the higher is the chance you can catch those impalpable long tail queries.

Bottom line, what really matters when you choose your keywords or establish your content, is that you focus on users experience. Try thinking like one of your users when you look at your website. Is it pleasant to read and easy to access, regardless of the number of keywords you find? If the answer is yes, well, you nailed it!

What kind of content marketing challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?  Share your story in the comments.