Do Keywords Still Matter for SEO?

Real Estate Technology with Content, coding, marketing, host.

Keywords Still Matter

photo of Ken Cook with the beard

You bet keywords are still an important part of content when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. A recent study I did using the nonsense keywords "elberdarle dillishnad" continue to churn out some amazing results. Each time I perform an analysis on that crazy phrase I learn more about how today's search engine methods treat them. They are included in image names, tag attributes, headings, titles, document names, and more. Nothing, much, has changed on Google or other search engines about how those attributes are treated in the indexing process.

Even though I have seen articles from people who would love to have some breaking news to the contrary they are still one of the primary considerations for search indexing and returns. They play a tremendous role in Conversational Search which is one of Google's new focal points. "Where can I hire a web content writer who knows about real estate?" is an example of Conversational Search. You can see from reading it there are a couple of key phrases:

  • hire a web content writer
  • web content writer
  • real estate

Google, Bing and most search engines provide a service, a product, to their users. We, since I am also a user, don't like searching for a term or phrase and being delivered a link, especially a high resulting one, which has little to do with the actual topic. Using the above example the best result any search engine can give is a link to a person or company which offers the service the searcher was seeking. Getting sent to an article on "how to hire a real estate content writer" is less than desirable. See where Google is going?

My Guru Told Me Keywords Are Dead

Keywords, alone, do not improve Page Rank. Like many other important considerations for Google Search Engine Results Page placements Page Rank is still crucial to acheive. Keywords are not a major consideration in SERP or SEO, but they are critical to the indexing function of all search engines. Just because Google's basic Analytics is no longer friendly to webmasters looking to track keyword performance the fact that they are important to SEO and SERP performance has not changed.

When Google advanced to Hummingbird several things did change and Analytics gradually quit making keyword reporting a prime function. Although there are still ways to track keyword performance Google wants us to move toward more human interesting content and away from sleazy games such as keyword stuffing. Almost every "trick" that has been sold relevant to SEO and keywords has been a disappointment to searchers except valid content creation which incorporates the keywords and phrases in valuable locations. Those include:

  • in the URL (ie: keywords.url)
  • in the document name (ie: somesite.url/keywords.html)
  • in the page title 
  • in the H1, H2, H3 headings
  • in image names (ie: keywords.img)
  • in image attributes
  • in image captions
  • in bullet points
  • and (yes, it still counts) in the meta description tag

Whether you are writing your own content, auditing your own site for SEO performance, or hiring someone (pick me! pick me!) to do this for you these are among the more important locations to check for the key phrases that are most likely to turn into conversions for you. Conversions, for most people, mean a contact, a sale or a subscription. Another article on the psychology of conversion is in my head. Should I ever get it to a post I'll try and let you know, since you are subscribed to my announcement list.

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I started writing on Active Rain in 2006 when I was representing the mortgage industry. I am no longer in that industry and many of the older posts contain outdated information. Please do not contact me for LENDING or MORTGAGE questions but rather contact a licensed mortgage professional from your area. I have always been in marketing and branding and that is still what I do. Thanks for reading!

Comments (92)

Ricki Eichler McCallum
CastNet Realty - Corpus Christi, TX
Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS

Hi Ken,  Interesting article, thank you for all the information.  Good luck on your new endeavor.

Mar 27, 2014 07:45 AM
June Stark
Elite Realty-Luxury Homes & Condos On & Off the Strip - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Condos & Luxury Homes Expert

Thanks for the insightful info.  Much appreciated. 

Mar 27, 2014 08:15 AM
Steven Nickens
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Again it is a on going job keeping up with the latest changes in SEO and Social Media.

Mar 27, 2014 09:21 AM
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Ormond Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Daytona Beach Area Florida Homes

Interesting blog Ken.  Thanks for your insight and advice.  Always looking for ways to improve SEO and google ranking. 

Mar 27, 2014 11:17 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Ken, like everyone else, I'll say - this is great stuff! Keywords are NOT DEAD, as yet! And good to know where they should belong.

Mar 27, 2014 12:03 PM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Ken,

Way above my head, but interesting.

Mar 27, 2014 03:21 PM
Jan Bradshaw
The Bradshaw Group - Greenwood, SC
Specializing in Lake Greenwood for over 13 years.

Thanks for your insight. It always helps to hear what's going on. I take as much of it as I can and do as much as I can with it! It's a never-ending job!!


Mar 28, 2014 12:37 AM
Fred Van Allen Lincoln Park Pomona Real Estate
First Team Real Estate CHRISTIE'S - Pomona, CA
Green, Classic Architecture and Vintage Homes

Thank you for that list.

Mar 28, 2014 12:56 AM
Jimmy Williams
Keller Williams Elite Partners IV - Mount Dora, FL
Lake and Western Orange County Real Estate Expert!

Ken, thanks for the post.  I just hope Google continues to make changes that make the field level for the small business owner.  As you know, the last update the Z, T, and R's ie the big boys are dominating the search results.


Mar 28, 2014 01:56 AM
David & Kirsten Myers
Sold By Myers - Anthem, AZ Real Estate 623-551-1000 - Anthem, AZ
your local Anthem, AZ connection

Finally caught up to read this article, Ken... it caught my attention the other day.

As others have stated above, content is really king in blogging and writing on websites that you care to have be somewhat relevant in Google searching.  Though I see meta tagging and meta descriptions as somewhat relevant, I think they should be looked at as more "the icing on the cake" after you have produced good content for inclusion on your web site.  I encourage writers to use the meta fields as a sort of outline to what the page produced is about... kind of like a table of contents.

Great thought shared, Ken!  Cheers.

Mar 28, 2014 02:23 AM
Mike Sagorin
Sagorin & Associates - Irvine, CA

Thanks so much for a super-interesting & useful post, Ken.

I didn’t know that bullet points with

  • Keywords
  • And
  • Phrases


helped with SEO. 

Mar 28, 2014 05:10 AM
Carol Gilles
The RealEstate Group, 310-864-9738 - Torrance, CA
Negotiate & Communicate - Southern California

Thanks for your info, Ken.  I thought Keywords were still a Google indicator.

Mar 28, 2014 09:29 AM
John DL Arendsen
CREST "BACKYARD' HOMES, ON THE LEVEL General & Manufactured Home Contractor, TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & RE Developer

Interesting. What are your rates and do you help build SEO and establish or reestablish website presence?

Mar 29, 2014 07:52 AM
John DL Arendsen
CREST "BACKYARD' HOMES, ON THE LEVEL General & Manufactured Home Contractor, TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & RE Developer

I'm particulary interested in rebuilding our targeted SEO in the Southern California area, specifically from the Central Coast to San Diego with a website that ranked us in the top 3 on the first page for several years. Recently we have slipped to the middle of the 2nd page and we'd like to get back on the top of the first page ASAP.

Mar 29, 2014 10:48 AM
Marge Draper
Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto - Menlo Park, CA
REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA

I don't usually read this kind of blog.  Probably should.  I did find yours interesting and not too esoteric.  Thanks!  

Mar 30, 2014 09:45 AM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

Hi John, yes I do. If you have a few minutes a phone, Skype or video conference will answer all of your questions.

Mar 30, 2014 12:33 PM
David Demangos
Keller Williams Realty Carmel Valley / Del Mar - San Diego, CA

Thanks for sharing your insight.

Mar 31, 2014 02:37 AM
Franz Gerber
Yaletown Mortgage Loans - Vancouver, BC
Yaletown Mortgage Loans

For the past six weeks I have done pretty much everything that Ken has described in his article. I even have backlinks out there and have written numerous blog articles. I like to believe in the power of the Universe and most recently in the "power of SEO", but so far the Universe has been far kinder than SEO. All humour aside, it can be a long road to conquer page 1 and I do not believe there is a short-cut, afterall, the the short-cut you do not know, is the longest way to go.


Franz Gerber, Mortgage Broker

Apr 01, 2014 08:36 AM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

All the best to Ken as this quite the post and brings a lot to us. 

Apr 20, 2014 12:47 PM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe .Just Call. 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Ken, I'd love to see a quarterly update on SEO from you.

Jun 30, 2014 02:41 PM
Ken Cook

Sorry I didn't get back to you quickly and took almost TWO YEARS. I touch on it on my site usually only when there are changes happening. Sometimes I post here on AR too.

Feb 24, 2016 03:16 AM