SEO keywords need context, says SES San Francisco expert

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
SES San Francisco experts reminded attendees that a keyword will be defined "by the company it keeps."

“Your keyword will be defined by the company it keeps.” Speaking at SES San Francisco, Bruce Clay offered this insight during his day one session on getting started with SEO. Clay pointed to the rising demand for broadening keyword lists and using synonyms to better define a site (and create good reads).

He believes that associated words will become increasingly important to SEO, touting the premise of latent semantics indexing (LSI). LSI adds an important layer to indexing. In addition to documenting the keywords used on a page, LSI looks for words in a page (or on pages) to identify those that are semantically close – but they don’t need to be exact matches.

Surrounding keywords can help with clarification, telling crawlers what a site is about. Moreover, having a broad range of related keywords facilitates content creation sans keyword stuffing, giving content writers opportunities to avoid repetition and use natural language. 

“Your keyword will be defined by the company it keeps.” -Bruce Clay at SES San Francisco

Clay offered “associated keywords” as an SEO best practice tip for attendees, and recent Google updates suggest the engine is getting savvier when it comes to synonym recognition.

Brafton has reported on the quality-focused search updates in June and July, and we’ve also noted a focus on contextual keyword recognition. In the Inside Search blog, Google listed the following recent updates:

  • #81933. [project codename “Synonyms”] This launch improves use of query synonyms in ranking. Now we’re less likely to show documents where the synonym has a different meaning than the original search term.
  • gallium-2. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change improves synonyms inside concepts.
  • zinc-4. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change improves efficiency by not computing synonyms in certain cases.
  • #82460. [project codename “Snippets”] With this change we’re using synonyms to better generate accurate titles for web results.

 For more on these and other recent search updates, read the full Inside Search blog from Google.

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