Google Retires Content Keywords in Search Console

Google has officially done away with Content Keywords as a feature in its Search Console. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, who made the announcement on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, suggested the move back in May. He cited webmasters’ confusion about the purpose and usefulness of Content Keywords.

Content Keywords No Longer in Search Console

Content Keywords is a feature as outdated as use of the term Webmaster Tools in reference to Google Search Console. When the insightful service for webmasters was initially released, Content Keywords was the only tool webmasters and hosts had for figuring out how Googlebot was reading their site. It displayed a list of keywords relevant to a site and let site owners know of potential hacks.

Confusion Surrounding Content Keywords

The confusion that Google became increasingly concerned about orbited around the keyword list. At first glance, it might seem that these were the content keywords a website would rank for in Google.

We wish!

The list is actually a simple ranking of the words that are relevant to your website. Google’s ever resounding chant is, “Make your content specific and relevant.” Content Keywords created the list of specific and relevant keywords for your website, not necessarily your searcher.

Keywords Remain Important In Ranking

Even though the Content Keywords feature has expired, Google still uses the keywords in your content to help identify the purpose and value of your website and decide where it will rank in Google search. Make sure you’re using keywords effectively!

Single Word vs. Long-Tail Keywords

Content Keywords created a list of single word keywords. Today, there is such an abundance of content on the web that 99% of webmasters can forget about trying to rank for a single word keyword. It’s much wiser to use long-tail keywords; multiple word keywords or short, direct phrases.

  • Don’t try to rank for: Shirt
  • Do try to rank for: Ultrasoft Light Green V-neck Shirt

If the extra words in your long-tail keyword were also high on the list in Content Keywords, you’d have a much better shot at ranking for that phrase. However, the fact is that a simple feature was misleading. It made life for SEOs and new webmasters complicated. We don’t need to worry about analyzing keywords that way anymore.

How to Analyze Content Keywords Like a Pro

Regardless of the confusion surrounding the now retired Content Keyword feature, Google offers better tools today. Combine Google’s Fetch and Render tool with Search Analytics for a much clearer picture of how Googlebot reads your website.

Google’s Fetch and Render tool

Start by using Fetch and Render in Google Search Console. Fetch and Render gives webmasters a clear picture of what Googlebot sees when it crawls your website and pages. This tool has 2 modes.

    1. You can choose to Fetch the website only. Googlebot will crawl the URL you provide. You can choose to have it check one page, one page and its direct links, or your whole site. Use this feature to check for errors, redirects, partial coverage (meaning Google could not read a portion of a page), and identify security issues.
    2. You can choose to Fetch and Render your website. By clicking Fetch and Render, you are telling Googlebot to crawl the website or page and display the page the way it would appear in a browser or on a smartphone.




Index Your Page

After Fetching and/or Rendering, you will be presented with a button that tells Google to index your page. This is especially important for newer websites. While Google automatically makes its rounds, the internet is an unfathomably large universe. Telling Google to index your website will help speed up the process and get your site appearing in Google search results faster.

Pro Tip: Upload a sitemap in Search Console. Let Google know how you want your site to be indexed.

Keywords in Search Analytics

Google’s Search Analytics Report is far more comprehensive than Content Keywords ever was. It has a broader range of metrics and allows you to segment them for a deeper analysis into specific areas, such as device, date, or search query.

In contrast to Content Keywords, the Search Analytics Report doesn’t only show words that are relevant to your site. It shows the actual search queries that are triggering your site to appear in Google search. It also shows click-through rates for each page, demographics, and much more.

Goodbye Content Keywords (and Good Riddance)

While John Mueller is sharing a tearful goodbye reflecting on the days of yore, SEOs have long moved on to using Google’s other tools, and newer webmasters will be spared the confusion.

That doesn’t mean that Google’s other tools have no learning curve. Need help with SEO and Analytics? E-mail us today for a consultation.


DesignLoud is a web development & digital marketing agency located in Wilmington, NC. Our team takes great pleasure in teaching others how to build and market their websites to see higher returns.

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