SEO Question: What you often hear though is that ideas presented very often work for combined keywords or not so competitive keywords but much less for keywords in competitive areas especially if they are single keywords.
We are building a portal hence single keywords are of interest to us.
SEO Answer: The whole advantage of owning a large portal with a large amount of relevant related content is that you will match for many various longer search phrases.
Sure eventually you can rank for competitive single word search terms, but typically conversion rates are higher for longer search phrases with more implied intent in the query.
One thing you have to remember is that if you are starting a new site from scratch that it is going to have a long way to go to catch up with old trusted estabilished sites. Another thing you have to remember is that if your competitors are not idiots they will be reinvesting profits into further promotion, so it can take a while to rank for short search phrases in hyper competitive commercial categories.
On the page problems with being too focused on a single word:
Some people who chase the single word phrases end up stripping out many valuable modifier terms out of their content to where they no longer have relevant documents for a wide array of longer search queries. The focus on concepts like keyword density also ends up creating mechanical sounding content.
Off the page problems with being too focused on a single word:
When linkage occurs naturally there is a wide variety of anchor text associated with the links. Focusing too heavily on a specific anchor text set may give a site an unnatural linkage profile that prevents a site from ranking in the search results. Many quality sites will not fully allow you to control the anchor text they use to link at your site with.
Links from quality trusted sites help you rank across the board even if those links do not contain your keyword phrases in them.
If you like videos Dan Thies offers a free 75 minute keyword research video.
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