While it is an interesting subject, raised in numerous articles such as this one, it is worth questioning what we mean by 'keywords are dead', and whether it really just refers to the demise of standard SEO practices. After all it's easy to get carried away with dramatic phrases which can unfortunately get out of hand and be interpreted in the wrong way.
Last year the prediction of SEO's downfall was thrown around, and now we're saying that keywords are dead as well. Well what's really going on and how can keywords be dead let alone SEO?
Can Keywords Be Dead?
'Keywords are Dead' is a misleading phrase that is being thrown in along with the whole 'SEO is dead' excitement. Keywords are still the foundation of how a search engine works. The user types in their keywords and expects to see relevant results. If keywords were dead then the user wouldn't have to type anything because Google must already know what we want. Maybe such a Big Brother day will come, but not for now. Ultimately, web crawlers decide relevancy based upon content and the words within that content. While Google can use all kinds of personal, social, geographical, and statistical information in order to evaluate the relevance or quality of a website, the fact remains that these attributes are all simply secondary, supporting data to the relevancy fundamentals that the website content (and so keywords) provide.
'Unnatural keywords are dead' this is perhaps a more realistic idea. But really, we shouldn't be throwing in spammy, irrelevant keywords for the sake of it anyway so it's really only the death of bad practice. Good quality content will have all the keywords you need. Google knows if it's relevant to the searcher without needing assurance by someone's attempt to stuff a million keywords in their titles or along every line. This just instantly makes it poor quality content and Google knows that when it sees it. This ability by Google to spot unnatural keywords is undoubtedly becoming better and their downfall is certain, but real keywords are far from dead and are crucial in signifying the subject of our websites.
The idea that keywords are dead is another SEO myth that needs setting straight. It is related to the 'death of SEO' concept, another dramatic statement that joins the myths of SEO.
The Death of SEO in Short
Google's aim is to provide users with relevant, quality search results that best match what the searcher is looking for. Meanwhile the whole point in professional SEO is to 'trick' Google into placing a website above someone else's. This poor someone else may have better quality information or content that matches a searchers intent more appropriately, but since they have not tried to trick Google, they have paid the price with lower rankings.
Clearly there is some flaw in Google if it gives search results that the supplier (website owner) wants rather than what the consumer (or searcher) wants. Therefore Google's aim can only be to ultimately make itself 'untrickable', that is to say, SEO-proof. It seems it is only a matter of time before standard SEO practices are obsolete. We can only look on as updates such as Penguin roll in and slowly bring an end to SEO.
Can the Spirit of SEO Live On?
Surely however many updates Google roll out and however severe they may be, there will always be something we can do to optimise our own website for search engines. SEO as it has been can no longer live on, but so long as there are search engines, search engine optimisation must always be possible. While keywords are not dead, neither is SEO, but rather SEO practices must evolve like all things do in order to fight extinction.
So the real question is perhaps:
When will the end come for the weary SEO of old and what will bring new life to SEO?
The SEO of old, as everyone knows, is in the process of becoming obsolete as we speak and may be gone in a matter of years.But all is not lost while the spirit of SEO still lingers, we just need to give it a bit of new life...
The one thing that cannot be perceived as trickery by Google is quality, relevant, and real content that benefits searchers. This, accompanied by social media integration, content sharing, and popularity, can only be held in high regard and rewarded by Google (already indicated by Matt Cutts).
SEO Lives Until Search Engines Die
SEO is not dead, SEO is just redefined, a new integration of key concepts that Google is looking for: content, social, trust, and interaction. SEO has always been and always will be the integration of a set of key concepts that Google pursues. Google wants something new, well SEO will give Google something new!