EMD is Dead, Long Live Keyword Research
Austin, Texas – https://www.localsurgemedia.com/
As you probably know by now, Google launched the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update in September, an update that removed the extra kick your site would get if your site’s URL exactly matched a keyword you wanted to rank for. This is good news for sites that were being outranked for low quality sites who just happened to own the right domain name, and bad news for sites that received most of their traffic because of this boost.
Some have said that this was a long time coming. Google had submitted a patent for the technology all the way back in September of 2003, virtually the stone age of the internet as far as SEO is concerned. We can only speculate exactly why it took so long. Perhaps it was because the patent wasn’t approved until October of 2011, or maybe it’s because Google was having trouble differentiating between exact match domains and genuine brand names.
Either way, those days are over. So what’s next?
Keyword Research is Still King
Okay, a lot of things are “king” in this industry. (Content, links, users, conversions). But if there is one thing we can expect to never change about SEO, it will be the importance of keywords. As SEO becomes more about improving user behavior signals, social sharing, content marketing, and referral traffic, some are questioning whether it makes sense to think about SEO at all. Why not just focus on building a brand, and the search engines will follow…eventually.
Keywords are the underrated piece in all of this. As vital as links are to SEO, we could lose them and this industry would still be called SEO. In contrast, it’s hard to imagine a world where it would be possible to optimize for search engines without thinking about keywords.
Social and referral traffic are missing this key piece, the element of relevance. Content that goes viral can be harnessed in many powerful ways, but it’s hard to use virality to target people who actually want your information, products, and services.
Keyword data, on the other hand, gives us the clues we need to find people who are already searching for what we can offer them. It allows us to discover untapped areas of the market and to meet needs that nobody else is meeting as effectively as we could.
For this reason, it’s hard to imagine an SEO strategy in the future that doesn’t involve the following steps:
1. Research what people are searching for, and how valuable those types of searchers would be for your company as customers, subscribers, influencers, and referrers.
2. Research if, or how, other companies have met those searchers’ needs, and whether it is possible to meet those needs better, as well as whether it’s possible to send enough positive signals to the search engines to get a reasonable amount of those searchers to visit your site.
3. Produce competitive content that stands out as especially helpful, entertaining, or unique and gives the searchers what they were looking for.
4. Optimize the page for those visitors in a way that maximizes your goal metrics, whether they be purchases, referrals, social shares, links, or subscriptions.
The days when it was possible to appear at the top of the search results just because you knew the right keywords to use are officially over. But knowing which keywords to use in the first place? I don’t expect that to lose importance for as long as this industry calls itself SEO.