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Keyword Density: When Is It Enough?

Last week I was chatting with a client about their on-page content, specifically they wanted to know “how many times their intended keywords should appear on their web page?” I told them what I tell all of my clients, that there is no magic number. I can’t tell any client that having a phrase appear on-page 10 times will return first page search engine results (SERP). Instead it’s about having good, relevant content in addition to mentioning the intended keyword phrase.

Often pages that have the chosen to use the keyword in the URL, within the page title, in Meta Data and also in the on-page content, will do well. However it also takes website visitors to bring up web traffic numbers too. No one can tell you exactly the formula that performs well with SERP results, but I can tell you what won’t work.

As I was browsing Facebook, I saw a friends shared article titled the worst cities in Michigan. Her Facebook friends commented that the article was poorly written and used the chosen phrase too many times. That likely intrigued me more than the article itself, so I checked it out.  After reading it though, I realized as a search and social media professional, what was likely happening. My comment was that the author was likely trying overly hard to achieve a certain keyword density to vie for the top spot on the SERP.

Holding that top spot though was not what happened. Surely there could be several factors in this:

  1. The article was written in 2011 and is not current, despite being edited earlier this year.
  2. The article overly uses the intended keyword phrase. In fact the phrase is used twice in ever paragraph – 22 times overall!
  3. There are no other similar phrases used to improve relevancy.

I am oversimplifying here, however it is not difficult to write good webpage content, an amazing blog post or online article. So how do you do that? Here are a few tips to help find the perfect level of keyword density.

  1. Know your audience. What would they like to read? Is there an important message that needs to be there? What are your readers expecting and looking for? If you know your audience you are likely to know how they will search for content.
  2. Use good tools. Google has a great (free) keyword tool that can help determine which keywords would be searched for more often and also what keywords could be used in conjunction with the chosen keyword phrase.
  3. Find other great keywords and phrases that support the concept of the article. Use phrases not just one phrase.
  4. When writing, make sure sentences flow. Clean writing is important to avoid keyword stuffing. Get creative in using the intended phrases.

Certainly writing techniques and strategies vary if writing a stand-alone article or part of a larger website or blog. If done correctly though, choosing keywords and using them properly can have a big impact on a website. Keyword density is not simply about repeating a phrase 22 times.

I like to use my personal blog as an example of this. I chose a specific audience to speak to, chose my keywords carefully and incorporated them into the URL and in writing each post. I did not however stuff the phrase into sentence after sentence to achieve this. I used it throughout the blog, and in many relevant posts. As a result, the blog and keyword phrase “Ann Arbor Mom Blog” has had top SERP billing since 2009. I’d call that a success.

Want to know more about incorporating blogging into your marketing plans? Need help reaching your intended audience? PWB Marketing can help, just give us a call (734) 995-5000.

Failed Signage? Got SEO?

Have you ever heard the Bill Engvall comedy routine “Here’s your sign“? What do you think of this sign for SEO services? I discovered it during my morning commute recently.

I’m all for using various forms of marketing to get the point across, however I am not sure a sign advertising SEO services is the best delivery method. Perhaps website optimization would be better.

SEO services sign

Is a sign advertising SEO Services the best way to advertise?

What do you think about the “Got SEO” sign I found?

Focus

I participated in a panel presentation last night at Ann Arbor SPARK – the Marketing Roundtable, highly recommended – on developing a marketing communications plan. There was some discussion on the elements of a plan, but the real issue focused on having a plan that was aligned to your business objectives.

Years ago I worked with a career sales guy who taught me, “Plan your work, and then work your plan”. Perhaps some of the greatest advice I’ve ever received and one I see more companies fall down on in these trying economic times. Without a plan, you’ll never know what success looks like, or have the knowledge to adjust for changing environmental variables –  and in most cases you’ll squander money like a drunken sailor.

One key is clear objectives with metrics tied to them. At PWB we decided we needed to increase our web traffic to get more folks to sign up for our e-newsletter series. So Keith and I spent some time with the search marketing folks at Pure Visibility. Learned a lot –  key was that search success is all about focus and targeting. Pick the terrain you want to own, then work at taking it. We picked a key phrase we wanted to own, tuned up our site content, navigation, and structure to support that term. The results? We moved from being buried in Google to PAGE ONE. In about a week. All with organic search optimization. The benefit of focus. The ironic part is that most of the changes we made were things we already knew about. We just hadn’t taken the time and discipline to think them through for ourselves in a focused way.

My advice? Don’t panic. Think. Then do.