Unless you’ve just woken up from an incredibly long sleep…I’m talking a Rip Van Winkle sleep that’s lasted for years…you know that the face of SEO has changed greatly in recent times. From the smaller but still significant Panda and Penguin updates to the completely new Hummingbird algorithm, Google is constantly making changes to improve its user experience.

Keyword_buttonFor those of us who have to consider SEO in the work we do, we’ve had to stay on our toes to make sure we’re still doing the right things to maintain our search engine presence. Needless to say, a lot has changed over the years, and if you haven’t kept up, your search rankings probably aren’t so great. In fact, if you’re still using outdated SEO methods, you might actually be getting penalized for your tactics.

How SEO Used To Be

It wasn’t all that long ago that SEO was all about keywords. Whether you were creating content for your website or writing a press release, you always had keywords in mind. You’d include specific keywords in the title, subtitles, and throughout the content wherever it made sense to fit them in. By doing so, you’d hopefully turn up in the search results any time someone searched for that word or phrase.

But times have changed, and no longer does the old method of keyword targeting gets results. These days, if all you’re focused on is keywords, you’re wasting your time. Creating tons of keyword-stuffed content won’t do anything besides send a huge red flag to Google that you’re trying to manipulate your rankings, and that will do much more harm than good.

A New Approach To Keyword Targeting

After the latest Hummingbird update, Google made one thing clear: it’s not about keyword matching anymore. Instead of producing search results that only match the phrase the user entered, Google is now trying to produce results that focus on the user’s intent.

For example, if someone in Los Angeles enters the search query “Italian food” Google won’t just turn up websites that use the phrase “Italian food.” Instead, it will provide results that include local Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, because chances are, that would more likely be what the person is looking for.

What does all of this mean for keyword targeting, particularly in press releases? It means that rather than saying, “I need to create press releases that have these specific keywords in them,” you should be saying, “I need to create press releases that give my audience the information they’re searching for.”

This article at Search Engine Land really puts it best, “Instead of: How do I rank for this query? Think: How do I best answer the questions my users have?

In other words, don’t obsess over keywords. If anything, obsess over creating interesting, unique content that meets your target audience’s needs.

What do you think? Is it time to rethink the way we target keywords in our press releases? Share your thoughts by commenting below.