Are Search Keywords still a thing?

The other night I was talking with a business owner.

I told him "you don't have to worry about search keywords anymore."

He sounded relieved and confused at the same time.

So what happened to search keywords? Are they no longer relevant?

When I went to school, that was many years ago, our math teacher would tell us: "you won't always have a calculator in your pocket."

Guess what? I have a smartphone. It's not just a pocket calculator — it's an extremely powerful computer.

My teacher wasn't exactly wrong.

For most of my adult life, I did not have a smartphone. And I did not carry a pocket calculator with me. I had to do math in my head.

But technology got better and cheaper, so I no longer have to worry about that.

The same thing happened to search keywords. Technology got better. You don't have to work so hard to get results.

Search keywords are still something that search engines need to use. That's how they match intent — what people are searching for — with inventory — what you're advertising.

Understanding intent is not a simple problem. If the product is called "red running shoes" — what is it selling? running shoes? or the color red?

If someone is looking for "red dress shoes" do you serve them an ad for "red running shoes"? What's more important, the color or the implied activity?

Semantics also matter. "Sneakers" (US) and "trainers" (UK) often mean the same thing. People searching for "jogging sneakers" are in the market for running shoes.

Before computers got smart enough, we had to explain it to them. We had to sit down and map the product into all the possible search terms we could think of.

AI got cheap enough and smart enough that we no longer have to do that.

Search engines now understand intent, they know semantics, and they can even grasp differences across countries and dialects.

Just by looking at your ad and website, the AI can understand what you're selling, what your target audience looks like, and what they're searching for.

And it can do all of that in seconds not hours.

This means that you no longer need to worry about using the right keywords.

The AI is good enough to figure it out. And you get more time to do what really matters.

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