Semantic search has drastically changed the way we, as search optimizers, perceive keyword research. Let's take a look at the past and what the future has to offer.

A Glance at the Past & Future of Keyword Research

Semantic search has drastically changed the way we, as search optimizers, perceive keyword research. Let's take a look at the past and what the future has to offer.

While getting started on a brand new SEO campaign, often the first thing you would be doing is keyword research. It is supposed to provide the much-needed skeletal framework for your campaign and has proven to be a vital technique for a long time now. However, during the last few years, keyword research has changed dramatically, it has experienced fascinating evolutions and has somewhat become less relevant in more ways than one.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is essential to ensure that your content satisfies inbound visitors and that all incoming queries are directly related to your business.

You can find out which queries offer low competition, allowing you to selectively target vital keywords and phrases to include in your site’s content. Identifying keywords and keeping track of them serves as an important metric that you can utilize to gauge your campaign’s effectiveness, by keeping track of rankings over a period of time.

Back In Time

In the past, SEO seemed to be really simple. You stuffed your keywords all over your page’s content, into each and every meta tag, and prayed for the best.

With the help of Google Analytics, Google offered lots of data about how individuals were searching, and exactly how they came across your site through keywords. Moreover, once you had access to a list of keywords which ensured low competition but high traffic, you could at once start optimizing your content to target those queries.

Most Google searches would feature one-to-one relationships. During those days, Google would take your words and find near exact matches on the web.

What’s that, Hummingbird?

In 2013, Google launched its Hummingbird algorithm update.

This update presented a whole new concept called ‘semantic search’ that revolutionized the way Google handles queries. Instead of taking the user’s words and looking for appropriate matches online, Google evaluates the intention that is behind a user’s query and then determines which content is relevant.

Even though it looks like an insignificant difference, in reality, it has a great impact on the way we should perceive keywords. The faster that semantic search evolved, the more power that individual keywords lost, giving way to long-tail keywords and topical themes.

Forecasting the Future

In our recent post on keyword research trends, we discussed how new technologies drastically impact the manner in which searches are conducted. Digital assistants such as Cortana and Siri are motivating users to perform searches through speech and are fundamentally changing the way queries are entered.

Other innovations such as augmented reality, wearables, and virtual reality could be having the same and complementary effect, by compelling users to alter the manner in which they search. New kinds of interfaces and (even) smaller screens will soon be changing the way we interact with search engines.


Keyword research is bound to change and will not remain in its present form forever. We will be witnessing an iterative and gradual transition to a whole new search research system that is based specifically on the latest technologies and current search trends. You better prepare yourself mentally for a few drastic changes during the next decade.

This article has been written by Walter Moore from

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Walter Moore
Walter Moore is a digital marketing professional at He loves blogging and has shared a number of articles for professionals and companies alike with tips, tricks, and references to build a solid online presence.

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10 comments on “A Glance at the Past & Future of Keyword Research

  1. Great post! Does it not make sense to consider these inevitable future changes due to the evolution of emerging platforms and media.
    Thanks a bunch of yellow roses for opening my mind a little wider on this important topic.

  2. I’m glad to see keyword research and algorithms evolving and I am hopeful that it’s all going in the right direction. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and crappy content being thrown in people’s face. Here are the days of quality content that actually helps people. Hopefully it just keeps getting better from here 🙂

  3. Great post! Even more, as a business person, I’m very interested in whether the potential customer got what information they intended to get or not when and if they get to my site; I’m interested in the customer value proposition– I get the eventual “session” on my website and sale because that proposition answered the mail! That’s what the search engines are trying to do, ensure that happens. So no matter what they come up with, as long as that’s your objective, and not just stuffing keywords and META Data, the session is yours, bounce rate lower, returns more frequent. Online, you must worry about eCommerce, Lead Generation, Content Marketing, Information and Branding.
    It used to be very difficult to “segment the market” and answer the question– who is my customer, where are they from, their habits, what are they looking for and can I fulfill that need; what is the market and am I in the right market– selling the right things? As you rightfully said, Google Analytics is a must for this, as well as Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools), Bing Webmaster Tools, etc., all can potentially help business owners answer that age old question– who is the customer?

  4. This is agreat post and I have read it completely. My website is all over India and I am using All in One SEO Pack to do so. I want to know in the General Setting are three options title, description but keywords option are missing, so confirm me this one is new change from All in One SEO Pack. Or any other setting need to update from my side. Thanks.