You Ask, I Answer: Do Keywords Still Matter in an AI SEO World?

By | January 17, 2020


Christopher Penn: In today’s episode, Shane asks, with the changes that Goo le is made to its algorithm. Is there st ll any validity to having a list of eywords and tracking how they are rank ng? Do keyword still have a place in the SEO process? This is good question because a lot of what’s been written, including some pieces I’ve written yself, I’ve talked about the importan topics, document level topic, sentence paragraphs, and larger chunks of text hat Google now uses thanks to deep lea ning capabilities to measure the impo tance the relevance of a piece of conte t. Now, here’s the thing about that. Wh n you decompose a topic, when you deco pose a document, you end up with wor s and phrases, right? It’s literall impossible to write about the importan e of coffee shops, without coffee, guess, without talking about things l ke you know, beans brewing times, b ends grinds, particular types of brews coffee dishes like espressos and capp ccinos and lattes, and mocha chinos a d all that stuff, right? All those wo ds, words and phrases. And so there is still some value in seeing how relevant a pages based on a series of words. N w, where things are different is that ou’re not going to try and get a page t rank for one word or phrase, right, y u may have a focus keyword, but there’s ot to be a bunch of keywords around t at that should also be on that page tha are relevant to that page. This is concept in natural language processi g called adjacency. What words and phra es are adjacent to the primary focus ke word. So again, with the discussi n about espresso for example, espresso has a particular type of being a partic lar type of grind, method, machiner . And so a page that is about espresso should also have those terms featured on it in some degree, right? Because hat’s what the topic is about. And so t at page may and probably should have mul iple keywords that’s being tracked or but they’re all related around t at central concept. But idea. The best SEO tools allow you to see how a page r nk for multiple keywords right, and you an set it up to design design, your mon toring for multiple keywords, words an phrases have obviously you can’t ma e content without them. Now, what’s c anged in the SEO process is not the word in the phrases per se, but the research right the research part of SEO is what as drastically changed in this artifici l intelligence world and AI driven S O What’s changed about that is that you need much more sophisticated tools th t do natural language, proper language processing, to get those adjacenc es. And you need subject matter experts o talk to in order to discover those hi den terms that may not be frequent on a page, but indicate your expertis they indicate your authority, your rel vance, the fact that you know the topi deeply. So keyword frequency tools co ld be one way of doing that just det rmining how many times does a word or hrase up here, our friends over at Talkw lker have a basic frequency counter n a lot of their software. Some of the S O tools are starting to get there. B t your best results are always going to be from more advanced natural language processing software. So you can use some of the cloud services like Amazon a d Google and IBM all have a natural anguage processing capabili ies, digest large quantities of text, I se an open source library that’s b ilt into Watson. It’s an add on to the o r language, the our programming language in order to do a lot of that, as well, because with Google and other cloud se vices, you do pay a nonzero amount o money, it’s small, it’s not a lot of m ney, but for the effort, if you’re g nna, because you’re gonna have to write code to connect to those API’s Anyway, ou may as well just build it with som thing doesn’t cost you money every ti e you write. So, the research part is hat has changed. How do you determin those keyword adjacencies. And there’s bunch of different methods. There’s, as I mentioned, basic term frequenc counts, which actually are not bad for etermining just how often does a term o phrase show up within a large body of opy. There is a measure called inverse document frequency, which is part of term frequency that you can use to determine how many times does a term uniquely appear in the document that gets rid of things like the word law that offers no predictive power about expertise across a bunch of documents, but it shows up a whole bunch. And then there are more advanced methods like vectorization, which allow you to mathematically gives you GPS coordinates on page two terms, that CEO who lives near that term, if you will. And then there’s even more advanced models on that. But those are sort of the three major methods for measuring those keywords, and they’re pretty good. They will get you a good percentage of the way, especially if you don’t have domain knowledge. One of the things that’s can be tough for a lot of SEO and content practitioners is that you need to have at least some level domain expertise in order to be able to craft great copy That the days of googling for two minutes and copying and pasting a bunch of stuff off of other pages are long gone. It now because of natural language models being able to understand things like grammar and syntax to some degree. That technique, which used to work in the old days does not work anymore. So you do need that domain level expertise. If you’re wondering how to make use of this with any don’t have machine learning capabilities, you don’t have data scientists on staff, your best bet is to sit down with your subject matter experts. Get out a little portable audio recorder, turn it on, and have a conversation with them. Put together a list of questions about your keywords about your topic, right. And for 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Work with your subject matter expert, talk to them and just ask them questions about the topic as though you are googling it but you’re googling it from inside somebody’s head. So what is The best way to make espresso or what should I look for an espresso beans, and we’ll get to talk about the roast versus the grind and a lot of detail. And that those conversations are what you can then start mining for that true expertise. That’s the easiest way to get started in the new keyword landscape. The fact of the matter, though, is that at the end of the day, the core goal of Google’s algorithm changes has not changed, which is to help you find great relevant content. Right? So as long as you’re creating longer form, great relevant content with subject matter expertise, you will deliver on what is that Google is looking for, in its its search algorithms. Worried less about individual keywords worry much more about topical expertise. So use those use those subject matter experts. Really good question. Look into some of those natural language processing tools that I mentioned there. There are a lot of capabilities out there and most of them are relatively inexpensive. I would shy away from people offering like individual point solutions, because they will tend to be expensive and they will tend to be things that if you invested some time and money in yourself in developing the capabilities yourself, you would have them and could use them in an unlimited fashion, rather than paying you 599 a month for you know, a tool that does one thing, so be on the lookout for that. As always, please leave your follow up comments and questions below. Subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter, I’ll talk to you soon take care want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems? This is Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you

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