Ever talk to someone who likes to say “like” like all the time. It can be, like, distracting after a while. Like, it gets annoying, and makes you, like, lose focus.

Using the same keyword over and over in content has the same effect, on readers as well as search engines. This approach not only breaks up the flow of content and takes away from the quality of information, but search engines have gotten wise to what’s known as keyword stuffing — and they don’t like it. It’s easy to tell by your plummeting search results!

That’s not to say, however, that the importance of keywords in SEO has become completely obsolete. They are actually still significant — if you use them correctly.

Because search engines have gotten smarter over the years, they’re not only able to pick up on the no-no of keyword repetition, but they can also decipher when a synonym or phrase with a similar meaning (a.k.a. long tail keyword) is used and count these in your ranking as a relevant result. In other words, instead of using the exact same word, use variations of it. This allows you to keep your flow and context in tact for your readers, while getting optimum search results to boot.  

The key to coming up with these keyword variations (see what we did there?) is to think in terms of how your audience is searching. Rarely does someone type a single word in the search bar, which is why long tail keywords are best. Are you using terminology that your target audience uses? How would you search for your product or service yourself? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Then, come up with a primary search term, and think of all the different ways you can say the same thing. Add these variations to your content, but only where they naturally fit. Remember, if content is king, context is queen! In fact, to ensure flow and readability, try writing with no consideration of keywords whatsoever until you’re done. Then go back and determine a naturally occurring set of key phrases — it might seem backwards, but it works.

In the end, readers and bots alike are looking for relevant, unique content that provides a solution to the search. It’s got to be informative and well-written first and foremost, but if it happens to have long tail keywords hidden within that match those used in the search bar, well, let’s just say... it, like, helps.

Keywords aren’t dead, they’re just different.

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