Using Similar Versions of a Keyword in a Page

May 10th
posted in

SEO Question: My main keywords for my site are e-book and ebook. Should I sprinkle both versions of the word on every page?

SEO Answer:

Semantically Related Phrases:

I think in time search engines will eventually get better at determining what words related to one another. In many cases they are already good at it.

If you search Google for ~term -term it will show you some of the terms Google understand to be related. Here are a couple semantic relationship tools that also do that process for you:

Ways to Target Multiple Similar Versions of a Keyword Phrase:

There are multiple ways to target both version of a phrase.

  • Sometimes adding one version somewhere in the meta description and maybe in the page footer area is a good way to target the less popular of the two. You may also be able to work both versions into your page title, but you really want to consider how search engines will display your page titles and descriptions. If you have a dynamically generated site it is much easier to create formulas for the page title and meta descriptions which help you to test many of them without needing to waste a ton of time editing each page one at a time.

  • Another good option for picking up the secondary phrase is to get a few external citations to the important pages with the less common term in the anchor text, or maybe use a sitemap which pushes the secondary version. It is pretty easy to syndicate articles and do other things like that to pick up a few low to mid quality links with decent anchor text.
  • Some sites, like About.com, use a related phrases section on definition pages, which outlines other versions of a phrase. If you sell parts you could call it something like "alternate part numbers". If you use this you need to make it look professional and get some quality citations so that your site seems as though it is above board, and not just trying to spam the engines.
  • Finally, the last way I can think of tackling the problem is to create different version that target the different phrases, but if you do this it is easier to write mini blog posts or do something like that. You want to make it look legitimate, so the page contents should not be exact duplicates with the exception of find and replace, because that could look suspicious and as if it is only for search spiders. Duplicate content filters are improving daily as well, and are getting better at detecting find and replace duplication.

Influencing Word Relations:

There are subtle ways to drive search volume, but it is a long hard and involved process to try to change the way people use language. It may also be darn near impossible if most the market discussion occurs offline.

Many people would consider linking off to search results in a salesletter a no no, but if you can have people search Google for your coupon or brand name then your brand might be recommended more frequently for things like inline search suggest or see also searches for broader related search queries.

If you use online or offline techniques to drive search make sure you follow it up by creating an online resource or someone else will target it, and Google may do an inline suggest for it.

How you use language on other sites can also help determine what phrases engines think are related to one another, especially if the patterns you create are reinforced on many pages of multiple large independent sites. Yahoo!'s see also patterns seem to be driven at least partially by word patterns on pages.

How Popular is Each Version?

When considering if you want to go after one version or both the first thing you have to do is get a rough indication of demand for each term. Use Google's keyword tool and perhaps combine that with mine. Keep in mind that mine is driven off of Overture, and there are flaws to the data collection and sharing models at any keyword tool, so these are just estimates.

Using those two tools should show you what version is the most popular. People often search in the same way as they create content. So another good backup indicator would be searching Google for ["e-book"] and [ebook].

I also have a tool which uses the Google API to give the approximate number of hits for each version. My Compitition Finder tool will show how many results there are for pages that use the terms in the title and / or anchor text. If terms occur in the page title and anchor text than those pages are likely going to be far more targeted on a topic than pages that may just have the words somewhere on the page. Sometimes my tool is a bit broken, so after this semester is done hopefully my programmer buddy will have a few hours to fix it up.

How Competitive is Each Keyword Phrase?

The number of hits might give you some idea of how competitive is each version, but a more accurate way to find out is just to look at the top search results for each version. If official type sites tend to target one version and spam sites target the other you may be better off going after the less popular and less competitive version off the start, especially if you are working on a limited budget.

Before you commit to any targeting method it may be worth considering

  • how easy or hard it will be to change what you are targeting as your site influence and income increase.

  • weather or not you will need to worry about updating the aged content, or if your site structure allows you to focus on creating new content without the structure of the old content hurting you too much

Using things like a content management system or server side includes might make a lot of sense if you are going to be working on a large site.

Published: May 10, 2006

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Comments

May 11, 2006 - 7:00am

What if you are building a direcotory of something. for eample if i am building a directory of cars i have in the home page about 20 links in center withtitles like

English Cars
Italian cars
French Cars
and so on... for 20 other links

Wouldnt google treat that as spam ?

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