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Do keywords still matter in the current SEO landscape?

Since the beginning of August 2013, keyword-rich anchor texts have been losing their strength. As a result, large-scale link building done using blog guest posting, or advertorials and PRs, should not focus purely on getting the links through targeted keywords in the links anchor text. 

Optimising the anchor text has become obsolete because it violates Google Webmaster Guidelines. Matt Cutts – head of the Webspam team at Google – advises using the NOFOLLOW tag on advertorials, and also that widget links must be nofollowed. Links built these days should be as natural as possible – in fact they should be earned, not built, which means that, yet again, quality, engaging content is the best solution to handle this change.

Shifting Focus Away From Keywords (not provided)

Starting from September 22, Google decided to make all searches encrypted, which means from that day onwards marketers will no longer be able to see keyword-level data in any software analysing traffic to their websites. We have seen (not provided) data in Google Analytics showing up from October 2011, however the change rolled out by Google this year means that the ‘keyword’ (not provided) will slowly take over and that by the end of this year it’s likely there won’t be any keyword data registered by Google Analytics, Omniure or any other tracking software.

Of course, there will be ways to analyse which keywords are the most important – it will just require a bit more work, and will most likely mean SEOs rely much more on the data available in Google Webmaster Tools, or in AdWords. It will also be possible to set up certain filters and analyse main keyword positions in relations to the traffic driven by the segmented (not provided) keywords, or analyse most-visited landing pages.

With Google not wanting to provide organic search data, marketers need to become smarter and better, and put more focus yet again on quality content, refraining from individual keyword optimisation.


Hummingbird has also changed our perspective on keywords. It was implemented in August 2013 to help Google deal with complex, long-tail queries. It is meant to allow Google to handle conversational search queries more effectively, and keep up with their rising popularity on mobiles. It has been also been designed to make better use of Google Knowledge Graph and to provide users with better content. The introduction of Hummingbird means that mobile SEO strategies have become more important, and SEOs have yet again needed to concentrate on delivering excellent content, rather than relying heavily on phrases that are primarily ranking on the strength of keywords.

Focusing on specific keywords may not be best practice, as it is no longer sustainable, nor is it measurable as it once was. The recent changes implemented by Google show the shift from keyword-orientated SEO towards content marketing, where outstanding content becomes naturally shared and is a core element of every SEO strategy.


  1. I just getting into ClickMinded SEO Training now and still need to catch up for different techniques. Yes, I agree with you that Hummingbird as more effective and provides users a better content. You really need to be updated all time when you're into SEO.


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