Google is probably going to win the race to sentient AI, do keywords even matter anymore?
Yes and No.
Do they matter the way they used to?
No. Having a single keyword or keyword phrase scattered around a page is no longer going to pack the same punch it used to when Google is indexing your site. Googles semantic search capabilities have been significantly upgraded. It not only knows every variation of what the keyword is, it knows how people use it in everyday language, and can see through content written for robots.
Does this mean we shouldn’t do keyword research anymore, and try and optimise our posts around them?
Sort of. While it’s still important to know what your page is trying to convey, a central topic or theme is going to fit much more neatly into Google’s expectations than singling out a keyword, loading, and firing it all over the page.
If you’re creating content for your site, branch right out and use variations, synonyms, similar and on topic words to convey your message.
Remember, Google wants the best experience for the searcher. The searcher will signal straight back to Google (by bouncing off the page) if the content isn’t giving them value (we’re defining value here as ‘answering their original question’). Provide the answer, written for humans, not robots. You can increase the signalling to Google that the answer is being provided, but we’ll talk more about that in another section.
For now, believe that Google’s updates are more than fluent in English, and they’re not only fully aware of SEO tactics of the past, but are actively trying to defeat them. The one true principle to rely on is to give the user valuable content, stay on message, and understand that the words on the page are only a small chunk of the pie when it comes to ranking your site.