We have lots of interesting topics to discuss today! Facebook is giving more information on its “Clear History” feature, which clears all the information Facebook holds about you – and yes, that will include business-related Facebook cookies and similar information. Facebook is trying to assure companies there are better ways to reach customers, but will businesses be convinced?

YouTube also held an important stream to discuss the ways in which it was changing. This includes Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings tool to compare the results of YouTube ads vs. commercials (at least as far as Nielsen’s particular set of metrics are concerned). YouTube also plans on making its TV like content – Original shows, etc. – more available to advertisers and to audiences as a whole. YouTube is also creating a new set of “preferred” ads that are designed to better appear on videos aligned with your content, and in particularly highly-rated YouTube videos to maximize results.

Finally, Google recently held a conference of their own to reveal some interesting information. Google is also updating Google Ads in many ways for better local focus and more customized goals, give people more options and generally making their ads more effective than they were.

However, the team is particularly interested in tackling the tricky subject of keywords in 2019 – specifically, how important are they? How much attention do they need? Let’s jump into a general review of where keywords are and how you should treat them!

The Basics of the Keyword

Keywords are designed to describe your content – the core of a particular piece of content, the metric by which you will measure it. This makes the keyword a useful search term, showing you how many people found your article by searching for that particular word or phrase, and where they came from. Of course, since the internet is such an incredibly competitive place, keywords soon became a method of making sure that people would find your site by searching for the right keywords. Thus, keywords became the main tool for controlling your rank in Google’s search results, the likelihood of your content appearing in a particular search, and how in sync the content was with the needs of the audience.

This led to a couple problems, typified by the era of keyword “stuffing” where people would manufacture cheap, unreadable content stuffed with keywords, solely to increase their Google search rankings. These days of healthier SEO, sites are blacklisted for such practices – and the nature of keywords is changing, due mostly to Google’s growing technology.

The Rise of Topic-Based Keywords

Topic-based keywords were a slow but enormous change in the keyword world: Essentially, Google started looking at a lot of additional factors when ranking content in its results. This includes authority (who is linking articles, and how in-depth content appears to be), what adjacent content is talking about, and what a site appears to specialize in or do well. As a result, Google started recommending closely related topics and sites for people: You might search “dog walker” for example, and get some useful returns on local “pet sitters” because Google understands how similar the services are. And this is just the beginning.

Google’s Neural Matching and RankBrain

RankBrain is a general term for the artificial intelligence part of Google’s search algorithm. Google is always making changes to RankBrain and we’ll never know what they are, but we do know that one of these behind-the-scenes features is Neural Matching. Google has a great presentation about the ways this is being used, but essentially it examines a bunch of different data to determine user intent when people make searches. That includes locality, corrected spelling, what people actually meant, related services, and a whole bunch of nebulous intent that Google is working to interpret.

This is moving searches from specific words toward accurate concepts. Essentially, it isn’t as important what people are searching for, because Google has become better at guessing what they really want.

Smarter, Harder-Working Keywords

So, do you need to stop using keywords? No! As long as you aren’t keyword stuffing and have simple, precise keywords, you are on the right path. Keywords are still particularly valuable when gathering information on your organic traffic and similar analytics.  Just keep in mind that while keywords are still important, everything surrounding your keywords is being lifted up to the same level: What you write about, how well your content reads, how much data you offer, your website structure, your headlines, your links and your engagement all factor into your search ranking. Think of them as important puzzle pieces that build a complete puzzle!

We bet you have a keyword story or two to tell. How do you create your keywords, and how have you found your keyword strategy changing over the years? Are you planning on changing again in the future? Connect with us on social media @21handshake and let us know!

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