Good news: it has been exaggerated. Bad news: it's a wounded animal.
Our panel discussion at Thursday's Search & Performance Insider Summit on the status and future of the keyword included a lot of talk about machine learning, artificial intelligence and, of course, the role of technology going forward.
Moderator Jon Kagan, VP, Search, Cogniscient Media (far left), asked panelists what they thought the role of the keyword might be three years hence.
Slava Rybalka, SEO Manager, Team Lead, Chewy (second from left), predicted that its role would be diminishing as "other ranking factors come into play. Google is becoming smarter about content." He foresees more ranking factors and more diversity in algorithms.
Aubrey Sabala, SVP, Media Performance & Development, 360i (second from right), said privacy laws will affect keywords' future. "They will firmly live in a mix but not be in the lead."
And Diane Sidden, Audience Platform Program Manager, Cisco (far right), noted that AI and ML will mean there will be less need for keywords but "there will always be situations and times where they will still [be used] but just not too much."
"SEO focuses on ranking web pages," said Rybalka. "The keyword is one thing, but also content structure; it depends on the algorithm. Lots of layers of algorithms have different impact on ranking. We need to focus also on making sure the website is fast, easy to navigate, the content is interesting, and it is resonating."