Are you Using your Keywords Effectively – and Safely?


As if the recent changes to Google are not enough to make us sweat our SEO strategy, the way we are allowed to use keywords is changing too. In the second decade of the 21st Century, the rules of SEO are going through a major transformation as Google, Bing, and the other search engines work hard to improve the search experience for everyone.

Does this mean that SEO is dead? Not by a long shot, but SEO is changing, for sure.

Beyond the major changes Google has made to their search techniques, through the implementation of their Panda and Penguin updates, the search giant has also developed an increasingly narrow focus on the way keywords are used. The other search engines have followed Google’s lead. Doing this makes a great deal of sense since, whenever the search engines implement a new strategy for improving the search experience, unprincipled, self-styled “SEO experts” immediately begin to develop work-arounds which will allow them to game the system. As the two forces battle for effective search results, the rest of us are caught in the middle, trying to figure out how to respond to rules which keep changing.

Using targeted keyword phrases in your content is still critical to SEO success, you just need to modify the ways you use them, for example…

  • The definition of “keyword stuffing” has changed – dramatically in the past year or so. Whether you think this is fair or not is immaterial. Google makes the rules for search results and we must follow them or be left out in the cold – and off the search results page.
  • 3 has replaced 3% – for keyword density. For years Google has claimed that they had no magic number for keyword density and now, finally, this is true. In spite of Google’s claim to the contrary, SEO experts have for years taught us to use a keyword density of about 3%. Today, this density may actually get you a penalty from Google. Instead, use your targeted keyword 3 times in your text, at the beginning, the middle, and the end – and stop there.
  • Multiple keywords have replaced density – for effective usage of targeted phrases. Using 2-3 targeted keyword phrases sparingly has replaced using one phrase frequently as the best practice standard. To avoid being labeled a “stuffer,” use 2-3 phrases 2-3 times each and avoid overusing one phrase frequently.
  • Don’t stuff your image “alt tag” – if you want to avoid a Google penalty. Rather than placing your targeted keyword behind an image in the “alt tag” area, choose another phrase that is close, but not the same. Using the same phrase in the image HTML can get you labeled as a “stuffer,” so take care with the phrase you use here too.
  • Meta descriptions matter – again. Do not ignore the value of the Meta description you use for your posts and pages. These should be crafted just as carefully as your content. Structuring your description carefully, and professionally, increases your appeal to the search engines as much as it does to the reader.
  • Do not highlight your keywords – anymore. Apparently, Google no longer needs help figuring out which keywords are important in the content you create and, as a result, highlighting phrases with bold, underline, and italics has become a black-hat tactic – or at least a gray-hat tactic.
  • Headers have become dangerous – as a place for targeted keywords. Do not use your chosen targeted phrases within your paragraph headers, but rather, make them descriptive of the text you are providing your reader. Headers have become something of a trap for the search engines and they have realized this. If you must use a keyword here, use one that is not contained within your copy.

As you can see, the acceptable use of targeted keywords in your content has changed dramatically. While they remain the most effective tool in your SEO toolbox, the best way to help the search engines find you, care must be taken in their use.

If you’re looking for help to improve your ranking in the search results, or with accepted SEO techniques and strategies, get in touch with us today and ask about our SEO Services.

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