The Internet is a constantly evolving, information super highway, and as information changes over the years so does the Internet. Redesigns take place to accommodate how people are using the Internet with a new variety of searches and terms. Think of the Internet as Ash Ketchum. When he started training Pokémon he wasn’t sure of the best tactics and strategies. As time went on he not only made himself better, but he evolved his Pokémon (a.k.a. webpages) to be better as well. This made for one cohesive team.

Let’s work our way backwards here. So if Ash Ketchum is the Internet, and Pokémon are the webpages, that means that initially catching a Pokémon with a Poké Ball would be obtaining a new keyword. To be a Pokémon master (ranking for a keyword) though it’s up for interpretation, one has to collect badges or win a tournament. Notice the use of “or” being used. Either this or that to become a master—both are not required.

This raises a whole new set of questions. With the ever changing Internet, is there a need to get all the keywords for a client?

Hold up Early 2000’s! New Tactics Coming Through

In previous years, it was argued that keyword research was the end-all be-all of necessary client or company information. The keywords were like a rare Scyther or Aerodactyl that are coveted. You definitely don’t want your competitors to know what’s in your lineup before going into “battle” and you want to catch them off guard. While you don’t necessarily want others to know your rankings, it’s not impossible to figure it out with the help of a variety of software. So is conducting keyword research still relevant today?

To Evolve or Not Evolve, that is the Question

Having constant Google updates makes evolution easy and inevitable. And let’s face it, would you rather have a Charmander or a Charizard? The question answers itself. Evolving gives new options and opportunities to read and attack a situation much more effectively. So let’s say an evolving Pokémon is like Google rolling out Penguin or Panda update, a major update that impacts your entire arsenal.

Now picture these major updates happening year over year, but you never change your work style over those years. It’s like completing a task the same way for ten years, but never inquiring about new technology to help make the process easier. So, is it a good idea to stay in the continuous rut, or inquire about new ways to achieve a similar outcome?

Is Keyword Research Out the Window?

While keyword research is a valuable aspect of all client information, there is too much being placed on the integrity of it. You’re probably thinking, “what do you mean integrity?” When using AdWords Keyword Planner for keyword research, the number in the average monthly searches column is always a rounded number. They aren’t the numbers in their truest form, and don’t provide the most accurate picture of average monthly search volume.

Next, most SEOers have been in a situation where they find a great term for their client to rank for only to find out the term difficulty rank is extremely high and it would be extremely hard to try to trying to rank for it.

Another example is using similar terms. Take the terms “independent living” and “retirement home.” While both these terms mean relatively the same thing, there is still a bit of a divide where these cross-searched terms can yield different results. Even though Google and AdWords have gotten much better at identifying similarities, there are still some terms that can throw search engines for a curve (Poké) ball.

Keyword Research 2.0

So keyword research hasn’t gone completely by the wayside. While there still is value in it, the interest points that provide value have changed. Before, the keywords that were compiled after many hours of research were the ones that clients and companies work tirelessly to rank for.

Today, keyword research is more like a digital roadmap. It’s a guiding path to show you the way rather than acting as, “if you don’t use it, you’ll be lost forever!” scare tactic.

Finding some of the top keywords a client or a company ranks for is helpful to figure out their starting point. It’s kind of like the first battle with a new Pokémon, you want to see what they are capable of. Finding the keywords of competitors is helpful as well in order to see if there are any similar keywords that are trying to be ranked for and how well the term is doing. Also, recommended keywords today are more of guidelines. You don’t necessarily need to rank for all of them. If you do, that’s wonderful; if not, that’s okay too. There are keywords you already have that are ranking exceptionally well, and those can be targeted.

Looking back, keyword research isn’t leaving, it’s simply being enhanced. After all these years isn’t it funny to think that when you were playing/watching Pokémon, you were actually learning SEO!