The SEO space is changing rapidly, particularly with Google’s algorithm update, BERT – making the Google Search engine better than ever at understanding user intent. It has many business owners and SEOs alike wondering, what does effective keyword research look like in 2020 and beyond?
The short answer is, experts disagree.
From steadfast belief in optimizing content for your target keywords, to hypothesizing a future where keyword research is obsolete, check out what 5 of the biggest SEO experts in the game have to say about the future of keyword research.
1) Frédéric Dubut, from Bing
“Keyword research are probably going to become slowly obsolete and you’ll need to switch to intent research as a practice.”Frédéric Dubut, Sr. Program Manager Lead at Bing
2) John Mueller, from Google
“There’s probably always gonna be a little bit of room for keyword research because you’re kind of providing those words to users.
And even if search engines are trying to understand more than just those words, showing specific words to users can make it a little bit easier for them to understand what your pages are about and can sometimes drive a little bit of that conversion process.”John Mueller, Dr. Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
3) Neil Patel, from Neil Patel Digital
“Keyword research shouldn’t be the main focus of your time and efforts. Almost every keyword is too competitive. It can take hours upon hours to find a non-competitive one — if those even exist anymore.
Google scans your page and understands if your topic is relevant to a search rather than looking for keywords to determine it. And when it comes to SEO and content marketing, better content trumps keywords every single time.
Searcher intent is everything when it comes to content for SEO and PPC. Context > keywords.”Neil Patel, Founder of Neil Patel Digital
4) Rand Fishkin, from MOZ
Ever get that spooky feeling that Google somehow knows exactly what you mean, even when you put a barely-coherent set of words in the search box? The search giant has an uncanny ability to un-focus on the keywords in the search query and apply behavioral, content, context, and temporal/historical signals to give you exactly the answer you want.
For marketers and SEOs, this poses a frustrating challenge. Do we still optimize for keywords? The answer is “sort of.”Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz
What he means, in illustrated form:
5) Brian Dean, from Backlinko
“Yes, you want to optimize your page around your main keyword. But don’t stop there. You can get even more search engine traffic to your page by optimizing it around synonyms and closely related terms.”Brian Dean, CEO at Backlinko