Sometimes, Google keywords really are like a box of chocolates
To quote from the film Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks.
My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
So what has a chocolate lover got to do with Google Keywords?
Let me start here. I am sometimes disappointed after agonising over keyword ideas for a new blog post.
Google very often ignores my keyword choices, but then, from time to time, it gives me a pleasant surprise.
It is not always by an exact match that it helps get you organic traffic.
Sometimes I spend as long doing my keyword research as I do writing an article, which is quite common now if you are into content marketing.
I start with my keyword tool in Semrush and look for broad match keywords based on my post topic. Then I check search volumes and decide which keywords have a reasonable keyword difficulty.
It doesn’t matter what product or service, or idea you are writing about, finding keywords is always a good idea.
My search for keywords might seem longwinded, but it usually takes me less than half an hour.
But after I publish a post, then it is up to Google.
Google really is getting very smart
Years ago, if you added your keyword in the title and a few times in the text, search engines took the hint and knew what words to use to index your page.
Now, however, the use of semantics in algorithms and machine learning is changing how a page is analysed and indexed.
A new page has all of its content machine read, and this is why the expression, content is king, applies now more than ever.
Not only that, a post or landing page is continuously checked, and over a period of weeks, months and even years can be given additional keywords.
Smart algorithms are the reason that search engine optimization (SEO) has become less about keyword match types. It is now more about producing semantically diverse content, which Google loves!
What are you gonna get from Google? Surprises!
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about book genres.
The title I chose was, Do You Know Your Book Genre. I didn’t expect it to rank very high because it is a very competitive search phrase.
For my keywords, I chose book genre. It seemed very logical to me at the time. I certainly wasn’t going to choose a list of keywords for specific genres such as romance, science fiction or mystery.
I expected my post would be indexed under book genre, which I thought was a popular search term, but that it wouldn’t appear very high. If I made page two or three on Google, I would have been happy enough.
Instead, when I checked my post ranking in Semrush, something surprising had happened.
Google has attributed fifty-six keywords to the article, and this has helped the page to deliver 2.5% of my overall site traffic.
I was expecting that the fifty-six semantically derived keywords would probably consist mostly of specific genre descriptions and that my original keyword was delivering most of the traffic.
But I was wrong. Google had done something very clever from my text.
Google analysed my content and attributed long tail keyword phrases and questions that people have used before to find similar information. This was based on the words and phrases I had used in my content, and not on my keyword.
It ignored my keyword and instead used book genres. Silly me, I should have added an S!
I had to crop the image above to fit, so it doesn’t show all 56 keywords. But my original selected keyword of book genre doesn’t appear at all in the list of keywords.
However, now that I can see that my post is ranking on page two in position 14 for book genres, it gives me a chance to rank higher if I improve my content a little.
But there are ten keywords that are already appearing on page one. Yes, TEN! Now that is like a chocolate gift.
So, should you forget about using a keyword planner?
No. The more keyword research you do, the more chance you have of ranking higher. But as long as you check and learn.
When you can see what Google is doing now, you can start to apply that to your new posts as well as improving your existing posts by making them more semantically diverse.
Or in other words, writing a longer word count for each post, and using synonyms.
In the end, it is all about what people type into Google’s search box.
With all the historical data Google has in its possession, it can predict with a fair degree of accuracy how people will construct their search phrases to locate certain information.
Using the example I have shown you, you can see that it is important for bloggers and article writers to try to do the same.
In the first image above, one of my posts has 956 keywords. By downloading a csv file I can analyse which keywords are high ranking or low ranking. By refining or adding content, it can help boost low ranking phrases, which will then help increase traffic.
In other words, it’s work in progress.
Because Google is constantly crawling existing pages, there is always new data available to keep improving your organic search traffic.
How can you check your keyword performance?
By far the best way to plan, monitor and discovery ranking and competitive keywords is with a pro SEO tool such as Semrush.
But there are free tools you can use to get some basic information.
You can use Google Search Console and go to the Search Analytics tab in the left menu.
Select the Pages radio button. From the list of pages that appear, select one. Now click the Queries radio button.
You will now have a list of all the keywords that Google has assigned to your page.
To see your search position on Google, click the box at the top, Positions. Now you can see the ranking position for each of your keywords.
You can also click two more boxes to get Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and Impressions.
By checking your results from time to time, you will discover more about your organic performance and also, how Google works and surprises you.
Yes, even with Google, life is like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you’re gonna get.