Are Keywords or Topics More Important for SEO?

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The landscape of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) changes so frequently that it can be a challenge to keep up. While search marketers could once stuff keywords into meta tags to soar to the #1 rank on Google, we’re now left in a world where algorithms change every 6-8 weeks and the recipe for success becomes more and more convoluted.

So, in this new world, what works better? A keyword strategy or a topic strategy?

A Keyword Strategy revolves around the idea of identifying words or phrases that you would like to rank for, and creating landing pages for each in hopes that this new page will rank in Google for your desired keyword. It may be repetitive, it may overlap with ideas present on other pages, and the content may not be as rich as it could be because you’re busy creating a lot of different landing pages.

A Topic Strategy groups relevant keywords together to create one main landing page centered on that topic. This strategy can result in a better user experience, because it’s diving into the need of the reader. But will it rank as well as going straight for the gold on keywords?

Before coming to a conclusion, let’s take a look at some pivotal facts about search:

  1. Google has made significant shifts in the way it displays information. Rather than relying on raw keywords, the algorithms work to identify the intent of the searcher to provide them with the most valuable information.
  2. The way that users search has changed. In the past, you may have searched for ‘March Madness winners’ to try to find out who won in 2008. Now that Google identifies searcher intent, our searches have become more conversational. For example, ‘Who won March Madness in 2008?’

With these factors in mind, the answer is clear: They both matter, but neither can stand on its own. A topic strategy nails the intent of the searcher, and can help you put the search into the words of your customer. But it may miss out on the hard driving keywords that Google is looking for. Creating a topic strategy through the lens of a keyword strategy will result in the biggest impact.

So start with your keywords, group together the most relevant words, phrases and ideas, and create rich content to really answer the questions your customers are searching for. 

If you’re looking for a Search Engine Marketing strategy to help you be in the right place at the right time when customers are searching, #TeamOnsharp is here to help! Let’s get in touch about your goals.