KeywordsWe will adapt.

We will see that maybe this is a move in the right direction from Google.

We will realize that there is more to online success than shoving keywords into our content.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about Google’s fairly recent, although not entirely surprising, move to encrypt all keyword search statistics (except for clicks on paid ads). Simply put, this means as online marketers who once relied heavily on Google Analytics or other analytics tools to supply us with all the organic keyword search terms that web users typed in to land on our websites, we now need to shift our focus.

Why the Change?

This is a tricky question. Google states that it made the decision in order to provide its users with greater online privacy.

Some SEO gurus and online marketing mavens have voiced their opinions, speculating that Google made the move to inadvertently address the accusation that the search engine provided data to the NSA in June of 2013. Others suggest this is merely an advertising ploy by Google to attract more Adwords users (since Adwords account holders can still obtain all keyword search data without restriction).

Let’s give Google the benefit of the doubt for a moment and go with the idea that it has decided to encrypt all search activity for the betterment of the web…

Stop Focusing on Keywords

In the beginning, SEO was about targeting specific keywords (I’m not saying it still isn’t at least partly about this). As a copywriter in the field, five plus years ago clients would ask me to write “SEO-friendly web content” that had a keyword saturation rate of 3-4%! Do you have any idea how unnatural and fabricated such content sounds?

Prior to the many algorithm changes that have taken place over the years, keyword stuffing did, in many cases, actually improve websites’ organic search rankings. But this was a very, very long time ago and since then, much has changed.

We now have an online marketing landscape led by social media, video, blogging and real time interactions. It’s becoming less about, “what keywords are my customers typing in to find me?” and more about, “how can I engage my customers in a way that is unique?” Because if you can do the latter, the better your chances of not only attracting new customers but also of encouraging those customers to share, sell and promote on your behalf to their social networks!

Follow the Buzz Phrase: Content Marketing

Mark my words when I say that content marketing is (it has been for awhile already) and will be one of the – if not THE – most important aspects of any marketing strategy.

Let us embrace Google’s change and take it as this: a means through which to stop stressing about keywords and start focusing on what our target audience actually values and responds to.

Instead of writing this article with the words “Toronto copywriter” peppered throughout (which is what I am, and likely my biggest keyword), I chose merely to write it. I wrote it for the primary purpose of providing you (my audience) with a pleasurable read, an informative piece, and a perspective that will hopefully lift your spirits and encourage you to reshape your content marketing campaign.

Think about it. Even in the days of heavy keyword usage, Google always advised us to write for the end user – not for the search engines.

Let’s finally do that.

Create a content marketing strategy that demonstrates a deep understanding of the behaviours, preferences and interests of your target audience.

Make a Video
It doesn’t need to be overly fancy or even have the polished look of a professional production house, but put your business out there on YouTube, post the video on your website and encourage your social media followers to have a quick view.

Write Fresh Content – All the Time
Give your business a voice in the industry. Post an article or blog at least once a month. Of course, write about a topic that is relevant but don’t place too much emphasis on keywords and see if it gets any action.

Build Your Social Media Profiles
Try to post on social media platforms at least a few times a month. Be part of the online conversation and better yet, try to make posts that actually lead conversations. Create a promotion that gets your customers involved on Twitter or prompt your Google+ network to ask you questions that you’ll answer in an article next month.

Contribute to Other Related Websites
Are you an expert in your field? Then I’m sure bloggers and other professionals in your circle would be happy to write about you or to let you write a contributory article for their websites. This shows your commitment to the industry and your expertise on a particular subject matter, further strengthening your position in the market.

Make a small shift in your content marketing strategy. Think differently. Adapt. Find new tools. Create fresh content. Move with the times.

Google certainly is.