It's been a busy few weeks for SEO, content marketing, and digital marketers. Google delivered a one-two punch, announcing that organic keyword data will no longer be available and that it has released the Hummingbird update.

The two announcements are important for content marketing, and they illuminate the continuing transition from keyword-based search to semantic search.

The consensus among SEOs and content marketers is that relevant, useful content remains critical. Let's explore why.

Beyond keywords for SEO

Keywords have always been viewed as critical to SEO strategy. Historically, determining the keyword opportunities for a site have been foundational for page-level content optimization and link building. Identifying the keywords a site can rank for, and the keywords that convert to sales or leads, has been the first step for countless SEO projects.

Keywords aren't going away. Obviously, words are still used in a search query. But Google is attempting to better determine search intent behind a query. Relationships between concepts are becoming more important, instead of the simple matching of a result to a keyword.

This process is becoming more important as people begin typing in longer queries, with more words, to find a specific result.

Going one step further: Engineers at Google envision a semantic search future where search results become conversational rather than based on a single result for a single query. That means the search engine will need to understand complex relationships between different concepts based on every word in the query.

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Paul Sanders is a digital planner with content marketing services company Brandpoint to help its clients achieve measurable results from their content marketing initiatives.

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