Traditional dependence of search queries on keywords is changing as search engines explore other avenues to improve user experience. SEOs too have realized that keywords seem to have become less relevant in providing desired results.
Until recent past, queries were focused merely on keywords. However, search engines such as Google are making efforts to comprehend user intent and are now also considering context in order to provide improved results. While Google analyzes basic signals such as type of device used while making the query, location of user, and probably speed of the user’s internet connection, it also depends on over 56 other signals to analyze each query in much more detail before it provides matching results.
One of the important signals that Google uses is mobile search. Users currently access the internet with a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in addition to traditional desktops. Furthermore, a user may conduct a search on a smartphone whilst sitting at home or while on the move or may do the same with a laptop too.
Another important signal that resulted in a lot of debate is personalized search. Both users and SEOs have realized that it is actually quite difficult to lay a finger on real results since if one conducts the same search from different locations or during different times then the displayed results vary instead of being the same for the exact same query.
In a way, context combines both the above signals to deliver improved results. Google has already indicated that more information may be asked to Android phone users to deliver results personalized to their specific needs. For instance, an app for a restaurant will be allowed to enquire with a search query user on whether they are walking or driving or cycling and provide results based on their location as well as mode of transport and reach.
Google has also taken over social analyzing firm Behavio that is engaged in finding out much more about users and their behavior as they input their queries. This includes finding out about their wifi connection details, social signals, and much more.
All these changes have also compelled SEOs to change the way they focus on keywords. Whilst in the past keywords were the sole determining factor in analyzing search results, Google’s move away from mere indexing towards understanding user intent and from internet search towards contextual search has forced SEOs to reconsider their strategies.
While keywords will certainly remain an important aspect of any search, SEOs will need to consider entire queries as well as several other factors to match the changing needs of search engines such as Google. As a webmaster or SEO, you will need to not only analyze keywords in your analytics, but also various contexts spread across those keywords.
In addition, you also need to identify and analyze intents based on various situations of your users and may even have to provide context or intent-based landing pages instead of those only dependent on keywords. As Google moves away from keywords and focuses on context, you too will need to keep up with these changes as well as convince your clients to do the same in order to reach out to users and Google as per their changing needs.