So is the keyword era over? After going around the houses a little here, Dave Schwartz concludes the answer is no. Then again, he is concerned that developments to attribution modeling and, more definitively, to Google’s Adwords are evidence of a changing of the guard.
I’m not sure this is particularly big news – no-one in their right mind is arguing that one-dimensional prestige keyword-orientated SEO is the future (or indeed the present) and everyone with any urge to drive up standards in digital marketing in keen for attribution modelling and semantic search to become more and more sophisticated.
However, one has to start all marketing strategy with a seed – a genesis moment. With with its new iteration now including conversion estimates, Google’s Keyword Planner is showing no signs of going to the wall which indicates that, just like every business model has to start with a simple proposition, every marketing campaign needs to start with a keyword.
Despite the overwhelming growth in mobile internet usage in recent years (which I’ve not been backward in proclaiming), it’s interesting to note how central desktop factors continue to be in Google’s algorithms. John Mueller has been clear that Google mobile ranking signals still use many desktop ranking signals and, as such, it’s important to balance the demands of optimising your site for mobile usability with the need to ensure it is satisfying Google’s technical expectations for the benefit of SEO. It’s clear to me that, purely from an SEO perspective, sites need to be looking after their desktop presence most assiduously.
To highlight the other side of this balance, another article this week drew attention to an area where mobile usability should be given primacy – the ability to enhance click-to-call functionality to ensure that mobile users are given what the data overwhelmingly suggest they’re looking for – quick access to contact features.
Of course, there needs to be a middle ground and there is rarely, if ever, a need to compromise the pursuit of enhanced conversion rates through usability optimisation to satisfy Google’s preferences in technical terms (or vica versa) – indeed, Google’s best practice is almost exclusively aimed at ensuring maximum usability for site traffic.
On a similar topic, I saw a great piece, from Neil Patel, on the value of optimising meta-descriptions. Now Google has been explicit in the past about the fact that these tags are NOT an algorithmic factor. However user engagement metrics ARE. Much like social signals, therefore, a well-considered meta-description can drive enhanced user engagement (eg: improved click-through rates) and is undoubtedly an indirect algorithmic variable.
Saying that, achieving improved click-through rates should be a good enough reason, in itself, to improve your meta-descriptions across the site but a knock-on effect on positive SEO traction can only be a good thing!
Lastly, Barry Adams has written a thought-provoking piece about a potential future without links at the heart of efforts to establish a meaningful metric of site authority. I’m a big fan of Barry and this article is simply great – a clear exposition of the thinking behind some very complex experimentation in the world of algorithmic analysis and one that will give hope to all honest agencies, trying to achieve authority (and, by extension, rankings) by actually being authoritative.