We have all heard the battle cry for search engine optimization. “Keyword, Links, Keywords, Links!”. Add your target keyword phrase or phrases wherever you can within your site and after that try to get as many links back to your site using that keyword phrase. To be fair these techniques used to work in the past but doing this now can cause a lot more harm than good. As far as Google is concerned this is known as over-optimization.
So how do you optimize your website without running into an over-optimization penalty? Well let’s start with how you use keywords within your own site. Keywords serve two purposes. The first is to provide relevant information to the visitors to your site. The second is so that search engines can determine what your website or webpage is about so that they can decide if it should appear in the search results based on what a person is search for.
In the early days of the search engines the common practice was to use your target keyword phrase as many times as possible on the webpage. The more you used the phrase indicated that your site relevant your site was for that particular phrase. This, however lead to content that was so stuffed with keywords that it no longer provided any value to the reader. This approach not only no longer works but it can make it a losing battle to get your site highly ranked in your market.
A Little Goes A Long Way
Google has gotten really good at determining what a website or webpage is about which actually will make your job of creating quality content a lot easier. Take, for example these 2 excerpts:
“Recently there has been a modest upswing in the Toronto real estate market. Is it because of lower listing prices? With the Toronto real estate market, as with any other real estate market, if sales prices are lower, there naturally follows a moderate upswing in sales. If selling prices in any given neighborhood of the Toronto real estate market are high, then the most affordable will naturally sell the quickest showing a rise in sales. This phenomenon also brings down average prices.”
“Recently in Toronto there has been a modest upswing in the real estate market. Is it because of lower listing prices? Within Toronto, as with any other market, if sales prices are lower, there naturally follows a moderate upswing in sales. If selling prices in any given neighborhood are high, then the most affordable will naturally sell the quickest showing a rise in sales. This phenomenon also brings down average prices.”
The first is obviously targeting “Toronto real estate market” as the keyword phrases and mentions it 3 times. The second is targeting the same phrase but even though the the phrase “Toronto real estate market” does not appear in the text the fact is the second paragraph will most likely rank higher.
The reason is that the Google has become very good at recognizing that the second paragraph is about “Toronto” and the “real estate market”. This is an indication that the quality of the second paragraph is much better since keyword phrases were not over used. Also make sure the keyword phrases are on the topic you are writing about.
The same goes for your page URL’s, Title tags, and Description. Here are some examples.
Poor URL. Too many off-topic keywords
Good URL: Relevant to the topic and appropriate use of keyword phrase
Poor Title Tag. Too many off-topic keywords
Toronto Real Estate Market Homes MLS Listings and Condos
Good Title Tag: Relevant to the topic and appropriate use of keyword phrase
Recent Gains In The Toronto Real Estate Market
Poor Description. Reads poorly and too many off-topic keywords
Toronto Real Estate Market news about homes, houses, condos and buying and selling real estate
Good Description. Reads well, on topic and appropriate use of keywords
There has been a significant upswing in the real estate market in and around Toronto that has buyers and sellers taking notice.
The key thing to remember here is that while it is still okay to use specific keyword phrases within your content (where appropriate and use judiciously) do not think that you have to. Break-up your keyword phrases and make sure you are focused on creating value. This will create better search engine performance and keep people on your site providing you more opportunities to generate leads.
Next week we will look at avoiding over-optimization penalties in your link Building campaigns.
Got a question? Leave a comment and I will be happy to answer it.