Since Google’s most recent update to its algorithms Panda and Penguin, there is much discussion around whether keywords are still a relevant part of SEO and Content Marketing.

Before we continue, it is important to stress that SEO and Content Marketing are not the same thing – but that they do go hand-in-hand. In SEO you ‘write for Google’ taking into account everything that search engines are wanting, while in Content Marketing you are ‘writing for an audience’, ensuring that what you talk about is interesting and relevant to your customers.

So the short answer is yes – keywords still do very much play a role in successful Content Marketing or Content Optimization. How keywords are used and integrated however is key.

Know thy customer

First and foremost, content needs to be written with your customers in mind. To write content that attracts potential customers ask yourself:-

  • What questions do your customers ask you?
  • What are their pain points that you are able to remedy?
  • What additional information do they most often request?
  • Why do they support you and not your competitors?


Know how people search

People typically don’t ‘Google’ single words anymore, but rather in more recent years, are looking for answers to specific queries using natural phrases and questions.

For example if you are going to Cape Town on holiday and know you will be staying in the Camps Bay area – in trying to find a good place to eat, you would probably search for something like ‘Vegetarian restaurants on beach front in Camps Bay’ – this would give you a fairly comprehensive result. ‘Vegetarian restaurant Cape Town’ on the other hand would return a myriad possibilities not specifically suited to your needs.

So in compiling content for your website or blog, ensure that you incorporate specific information that defines your business to help customers locate your services.

That specific information will usually quite automatically contain the keywords your audience would use to find your content.

Aim to sound natural

Read the introduction to this post again. Does it sound unnatural? No – yet we have used certain keywords repeatedly. So as in the example above where we are referencing specific information potential customers are looking for, you will in many cases be unable to avoid the use of key phrases and keywords – because they are the obvious choice.

Understanding what Google wants

New releases of the Google algorithms Penguin and Panda, have aimed at promoting those websites that deliver quality content through a more natural written style.

If you’re wanting to understand more about how Google’s algorithms work, this selection of Infographics will help you.

How to choose relevant keywords

Two excellent free tools to help you check which keywords your potential customers are using include the Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends. Use these tools to check whether you are referencing relevant keywords, but do not try and stuff a sentence or paragraph with as many keywords as you possibly can. Google will detect this and penalize you accordingly.

The bottom line

Focus first on understanding your customers wants and needs, their buying patterns and then aim to provide them with informative, valuable content that will help them live or work better and easier. As part of that process, incorporate the natural use of keywords and key phrases as this will help customers find your content online.

The more quality content you create, the more you are able to boost your reputation as a leader within your industry as well as importantly, drive traffic to your website. This highly informative article from HubSpot reveals just how much impact content creation will have on your inbound marketing campaign.

Keyword optimization is here to stay – just be normal and natural in your content writing style and you will reap the benefits of your efforts in the long term.

Looking for free advice about professional keyword optimisation?  Contact Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib on 021 556 5661 or email

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