Keywords still matter. Let’s get that straight, right off the bat. People still fire up their search engines and enter keywords to find what they are looking for. What’s changed, however, is how Google and other search engines treat those keywords.

Old strategies for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) relied on people stuffing a keyword (or keywords) onto a page. They cleverly hid them from the visitors’ view by making the text color the same as the background. This worked quite well for a while. That is until Google adjusted its algorithms to clobber pages that practiced this technique.  It wasn’t just small webmasters who got hit. Major players such as JC Penney and other retailers had their website ranks plummet.

Article directories also took a major hit. In the end, no one was safe.  The process of using keywords naturally changed as a result. Typical advice still suggests that you use the keyword once in the title and then in the first paragraph. Some will tell you to use it once more in a subheader further into the content. But, any more than that and you risk getting flagged for keyword stuffing.

The strategy may even be outdated at this point. That’s because Google is becoming more sophisticated in how it uses keywords. It still uses those keywords, but it tries to incorporate synonyms or similar phrases as well. The concept is known as Latent Semantic Indexing.

Therefore, you may want to determine a list of these similar phrases and incorporate them into your content.  Google has also been using the results of social media as part of its ranking. This may include hashtags and other factors. Therefore, you want to try to select keywords that conform to social media popularity. This makes sense as social media and blog content usually go together.

However you incorporate your keywords, keep one factor in mind. Write for your readers and don’t worry as much about how the search engines will rank. If you include keywords just for the purpose of getting them to rank well, but they don’t end up reading well to your visitors, they are going to exit your site quickly. Engagement by visitors is an important SEO factor and should not be underestimated whatsoever. Besides, search engines don’t buy products. Visitors to your website do. So, if you cannot fit a keyword or a similar phrase in a manner that reads well, skip it altogether.