A lot of SEO professionals are still selling their services based on a very outdated idea of how SEO works.
Anyone telling you they target a set number of keywords really isn’t doing SEO right.
Firstly, an important terminology definition. The term keywords has meant a few different things over the past 20+ years in the Search Engine Optimisation industry. As such I prefer not to use it and try to use other words that do a better job of explaining what I mean. So when it comes to describing the concept of ‘phrases you want to rank highly with in search results’ I use the term search queries. That does a much better job of conveying what we mean – the words people search for that your website gets found for.
Years ago SEO services would be sold based around (in part) a concept of how many search queries your site would be optimised for. But search doesn’t work like that anymore (and hasn’t for a number of years). It’s not as simple as having a list of a few terms we target – since Google brought their Rankbrain (artificial intelligence system) online for website indexing, everything is far more nuanced.
Technically a site can rank and be found for ANY of the words and terms on it.
I’ve blogged about a few of these issues before, so these articles might help give useful background:
SEO work is all about reinforcing your key content so it stand out for search engines. But anything within the content can (and often is) indexed by them. As an example if you ever get a chance to see the Google Search Console performance report you’ll often see hundreds of things a site is found for.
For example my site is clearly about being a WordPress SEO expert, and services around that. But in search results it comes up for over 1000 different searches, and a lot of those aren’t related to my core offerings. But they’re all related to words, brands or nouns I’ve used in the past. Googles does a great job of working out the context of your site, but with good SEO you can be found for just about anything.