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Choosing the Right Keywords in a Post-Hummingbird World

Posted by drew on Feb. 17, 2014, 5 p.m.

As you probably know, Google did a major revision of its search algorithm late last year. The name of the new update was hummingbird, and it has the potential to change the way SEOs and copywriters choose keywords, optimize pages, and market your website. To start, let’s do a little refresher on the way keywords used to be treated.
In the world of SEO, it used to be all about the exact keyword match. If you had the exact keyword phrase on your page and in your meta data, you could rank for that. After some time, search engines got a bit smarter and punished pages that were stuffing their pages and meta data with keywords just to rank for things. Then came the science of keyword density.
After much fine-tuning, digital marketers thought they had it figured out: the target keyword just had to make up somewhere between 2%-5% of the overall content, and the search engines would somehow think it was entirely natural. But with such exact specifications to meet, and still with a focus on one exact keyword target, how natural could this method really seem?
If you want your content to look natural to Google, the easiest way is to write naturally. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your keyword targets. Here is how we start our keyword research at Fusionbox.

keyword research

First we think about which phrases match the products or services your business provides. Essentially, we’re looking for relevancy. Next, we narrow these down to the keywords that are most attainable in the competition and most likely to bring you the largest ROI. This usually yields a solid list of keywords that are useful and have enough search traffic to be worth our time.

Next, we throw out the idea that the exact keyword match is the holy grail of page optimization. That’s right, just throw it out! Google now realizes that natural speech doesn’t adhere to strict keyword phrases every time, so they started putting more emphasis on LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords. LSI keywords are essentially groups of keywords that Google sees as being related or synonymous.

For example, if you want your keyword target to be “car insurance,” it would also be good to include synonyms like “auto insurance” and related terms like “motorcycle insurance.” This helps Google determine what subject your content is about and deliver your page to people who might be looking for you in a different way than your standard keyword target.