Optimal keyword repetition


With the numerous ongoing advancements in the world of SEO, so many people find themselves circling back to a rather basic question: If I’m targeting a certain keyword, where exactly should I use that in the front and back ends of my page and how often? To clear up any doubt surrounding this commonly asked question, we’re going to chat about keyword use, repetition and overuse. This may seem like quite a basic topic for some but it’s actually become rather advanced over the last few years and still appears to be a hot topic for discussion. Questions often asked include, “how many times should my keyword be used in my URL, H1 tag or title?” along with, “how many pages should I have that target this keyword?” What you need to remember is that Google really has evolved.

When you search in Google, you’ll find on occasion (when you’re searching for something a little more obscure perhaps), that the exact sentence you searched for may not even appear on page one. The reason for this? Google now connects topics and keywords thanks to their algorithms and tries it’s hardest to understand what it is you’re searching for. This obviously has an impact on your use of keywords so let’s begin by taking a look at keyword repetition considerations.

Considerations for keyword repetition

There are three primary considerations that we need to consider:

Search result snippet – this is one of your first considerations. You need to ask yourself, is the search result snippet informative and useful? Does it tell a potential customer something they may not have already known or perhaps a little bit about what it is they’re looking for exactly? Is it useful and can they apply that information? Will it help them to accomplish the task they set out to complete? You may also want to ask yourself whether it will catch the eye and lead a user to click or in the very least, does it appear as relevant and trustworthy?

Keyword analysis algorithms – this is quite classic and where a lot of SEO’s can go wrong, especially those that may be stuck in their ways. Back in the day before Bing, they may have looked at the count and the repetition numbers, looking for those less frequently used terms and seeing if you had a higher concentration of those in your document than other people did. Keyword analysis would most certainly cover keyword matching. Google would give you a little boost if you mentioned the exact phrase that had been entered into the browser for example, “Are western saddles more comfortable?” while everyone else had simply put, “western saddles for sale.” If you know that’s what your article is about and you want to target certain people looking for that particular answer then go ahead. Topic modeling is another area that will be looked at so consider some terms and phrases that are frequently used when you think of western saddles. If other websites are using them but you aren’t then your document may not be considered as relevant. For all the algorithms know, you could simply be talking about your dog that’s called “western saddle”. So they’ll look to see if you mention any other things that could be related to saddles such as the word “horse” or “pony” before they realise what it is you’re talking about. If you don’t use related words and phrases then the algorithm will miss you entirely. Google will also look at Intent analysis where they’ll try their hardest to understand a user’s intent. Google has a large store of knowledge around previous queries from over ten years worth of searches, which gives them the ability to figure out the intent of a particular keyword search so you may find you don’t rank as well for informational searches as you do for purchase-based searches.

Searcher opinions and engagement – If searchers scan your search result snippet and don’t deem you worthy enough of a click, this matters. Within a split second, searchers have asked themselves whether they should click back or reengage, whether they should share and amplify and whether they should remember your brand. It isn’t just a searcher that will ask these questions, a search engine will too. Google will monitor and measure such activity to see if people click through or pass you completely. Bing did a big study on this a while ago asking themselves, “Does that sound like a spammy domain name?” This resulted in highly hyphenated domain names, along with a lot of AdSense all mixed in, being seen as spammy and as a result, people now tend to steer clear.

How many times should my keywords be repeated?

With these three considerations in mind, we now need to move on to a few quick rules of thumb that can be applied to 95% of pages out there. First up, yes you should have your keyword that you’re targeting in the title element of the page. Your primary keyword should also be in the headline too although this isn’t simply because the H1 tag is important (it doesn’t actually matter if it’s in H1 or H2 or even H3 for that matter) as long as the letters at the very top of the page that make up the headline include your primary keyword. This allows your user to instantly know they’ve clicked on the correct page for their search and they have a consistent search result.

This goes down really well. It’s hugely important from a psychological perspective so that people don’t click back and choose a different result that better satisfies their need. Within content, you should be aiming to include your primary keyword around two or three times though that is a rough rule. Generally speaking, your keyword should pop up at least a couple of times in your content on the page unless you have a visual page or an interactive page with no content. You’d then look to put your keyword perhaps once in your meta description. Your meta description is important due to the snippet aspect of it as it might help boost your click through rate. It could help you appear more relevant to the searcher and will help to target that. There are the odd occasions, say that remaining 5% of cases, when a snippet will be much better off without the keyword. This will usually be the case when the keyword phrase is quite long.

Secondary considerations to keyword optimisation

There are of course always a few secondary considerations to think about such as image optimisation that may contain your keyword in the image alt attribute. The image file name itself is equally important for SEO purposes as images still get a good amount of search traffic. Even if you don’t receive a particularly large amount of click through traffic via the image, you may have people using the image and citing your website for it which then creates a link. Although we’re talking about a long trail, we’re talking about a valuable one.

You might also consider adding the keyword once in the URL. Although this isn’t critical, it’s still important. You could think about placing it one or more times in the subheaders too. If you find yourself with multiple blocks of subheaders that happen to be describing different attributes of a piece of content then you could also use your keywords in there if they apply. Just be careful not to go overboard as search engines use something called stemming. This basically means that they’ll look at the word “skeleton” for instance and cut it down to “skelet” so if the word “skeletal” or “skeletons” or even “skeletals” occurs then they’ll be a lot of repetition due to minor variations. This will be deemed as totally unnecessary and can in some cases annoy searchers as well as search engines that may look at this as keyword stuffing.

On-page keyword use

On-page keyword use is only a very small part of the algorithm. It’s so small in fact that you could get this absolutely perfect and you’d still only see a small difference in terms of your ranking so we’d urge you not to spend too much time on this subject. Do think about your searchers’ intent and your target topics along with questions they might have. Search engines are very smart about this and have topic analysis and intent analysis models which means a page that talks about “western saddles” but fails to mention the words “horse” or “pony”, would cause the search engines to assume you aren’t so relevant. You could have a thousand extra links pointing towards you but a search engine algorithm would still deem you less relevant and subsequently rank you lower. It’s also true for searchers that are searching for a topic that you simply don’t answer. You may get clicked on but you’ll soon have your potential users clicking back.

Keyword optimisation certainly gives you a lot to think about and can often leave people feeling hugely confused but don’t fret, you needn’t feel confused any longer. If you’d like some expert help and advice, contact Wecan Media today. Their SEO experts will not only advise you on keyword optimisation but how to optimise your website as a whole.

Source – Wordstream, The Wordstream Blog, Keyword Optimization: Why Optimizing for the Right Keywords is 'Do or Die'

Source – SEO Nick, On-Page SEO – How to Optimize Any Page for Your Target Keywords