Most people involved in SEO these days recognize audience targeting as important. This practice allows you to focus specifically on audiences who are likely to provide conversions. However, some people have falsely come to the assumption that audience targeting means that keywords are no longer needed. This is a false assumption. Keywords are still important in SEO marketing and will likely continue at that level of importance for years to come.
What Audience Targeting Misses
One of the problems that audience targeting has is its overreliance on demographic categories. Two people who are about the same age, living in the same area, and sharing similar social groups show up as the same person under most targeting systems. Audience targeting doesn't take personalities into account, which can lead marketers who are over reliant on the system to pass some potential customers over because they don't line up demographically.
Keywords Account for Gaps
None of this is to say that audience targeting isn't useful and important for SEO marketing. However, if somebody who might be interested in your products or services doesn't fall into a demographic group that you have identified as useful, you run the risk of missing a potential sale unless you have strong keywords. Keywords help to fill in the gap, allowing people to find your company through their own independent searches and allowing you to cast a wider net.
Keywords Empower Users with Personal Intent
While audience targeting relies heavily on demographics, keywords are effectively blind to them, treating every individual equally. This means that keyword-based marketing is more likely to draw people who have a personal intent when looking for a topic relevant to your website. By examining the data that comes in from your keywords, you can learn about a customer's motivation and get a picture of where they are in life. If somebody came to your site while looking for judo classes, for example, they might be interested in related content right now or in the near future.
The Internet of Things
Another aspect to consider when weighing the value of keywords versus audience targeting is the Internet of Things, or IoT. This phrase refers to the many non-computer devices that now have mobile capability, such as exercise trackers, the Amazon Alexa app, and so on. Some people point to IoT as a sign that keyword marketing will fade into obscurity, but those individuals ignore the fact that people used to hold a similar belief about mobile devices replacing computers. As it is, even as mobile becomes more significant, people are doing a significant amount of work through computers. Similarly, while IoT offers a great deal of convenience, it doesn't look likely that it will ever truly replace search engines.
Audience targeting is a very important facet of SEO marketing that provides you with a great deal of demographic information. However, the keyword is far from dead. Keyword marketing allows you to target an empowered customer base that knows what it wants and seeks your services out. It is just as important as audience targeting, if not more so, and is likely to remain that way in the future.