Despite being the foundation stone of any SEO campaign, keywords and keyword strategy are often the most confused terms thanks to the constant evolution of search algorithms over the last decade. At the start of it all, there were benefits to be derived from exact match domains, inserting specific words (even misspelt ones) in a certain frequency and density across one’s content. High volumes of links building and mass content posting were also de rigeur in any self-respecting SEO activity plan. There was near blind focus on “Google’s” requirements oblivious of the actual user which often translated to investment in large quantities of unnatural sounding “keyword rich” content across what were usually free listing website and directories in a desire for quick ranks.

But it doesn’t work that way anymore.

And neither does SEO, keywords or keyword research.

Unfortunately client reporting as well as the metrics on which we report progress have not changed in accordance with search technology. We continue to bank our complete SEO strategy on an under-researched set of terms hurriedly pulled out at the start of the project where the understanding of the business is insufficient for the agency and the impact of keyword selection near nil for the client.

To add insult to injury, budget negotiations centre around the “quantity” of keywords promised as well as timelines with little or no discussion around the best keyword strategy. Clients routinely miss the fact that search strings and therefore careful keyword selection can be the foundation of not just SEO but ALL digital strategy. Given the nature of the payment & measurement model, it is in the interest of agencies to push keywords that they believe that they can rank on with minimal effort without due regard to their traffic, conversion or strategic potential to the company. But with due regard, when is that ever discussed with vendors anyway?

Anyhow, most projects then start out with a “set in stone” set of 20 or 30 keywords that companies continue to track ranks for without any room for review or modification. And it continues to become the cornerstone of all future SEO which is then likely doomed from the start. Given the expected time delay to build and post content in an SEO project, changing keywords midway can mean having to start from the beginning in cases.

It is important therefore to take the time to understand a business’s priorities, immediate goals, potential user segments as well as prioritize the needs of customers that you have an exact match service or product page or content for. Because Google ranks content NOT brands. And those are the winning keywords that you have the potential to rank on PAGE #1 for.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Smith has a hand-on experience in marketing and that’s the reason why his blogs on the subject are educative and easy to understand.