To make the most of their web marketing budget, small business owners need a basic understanding of SEO and how keywords work. This blog series has already showed you how modern keywords work and where they are most effective. Now, you will learn how keywords can work together to push your SEO even higher.
Imagine someone handed you an excerpt of an article without any title or explanation what it was about. The first thing you see is the phrase “make a basket.” Are you reading an article about basketball or basket weaving? You read on. Now you read about the “rim,” but you’re still not certain. The next sentence starts “many athletes” and now you know. You are reading about a basketball game.
Search engines do much the same thing. They use keyword phrases, semantic distance, and co-occurrence to determine the topic of a particular web page.
Keyword Phrases Boost On-Page SEO
When you are able to group keywords and support terms in the same sentence, it helps search engines sort out your topic better than guessing among possible interpretations of the same word. Older search engine algorithms were not able to do this contextual search. But well-crafted modern websites take full advantage of keyword phrases to boost their on-page SEO.
Co-Occurrence of Keywords Sharpens Focus
Words don’t always have to be on the same side of the period to be important. Google and other search engines now use “phrase-based indexing” to infer relationships of words that often appear together. In the above example, the collection of the keywords “basket” “rim” and “player” all helped the reader infer the topic of “basketball.” Co-occurrence works the same way. By using a number of phrases that are indexed together, you can draw a stronger connection between your web page and the user’s search.
Co-occurrence doesn’t only involve the words on the page. Incoming links from pages with related co-occurring phrases provide search engines strong contextual signals of what your web page is about.
Semantic Distance Creates Emphasis
The closer two keywords are together, the more closely search engines link them. Semantic distance is different from physical distance, because it puts more weight on HTML elements like hard returns. Paragraph breaks are particularly important. Phrases located in the same paragraph are closer semantically than phrases separated by several blocks of text.
Certain HTML elements can also shorten the semantic distance between items. For example, bulleted lists tell search engines that each item on the list is equally close to each other list item.
There is an art to creating web content with a strong SEO focus. Before you pull out your red pen to edit the content of your new website, make sure you consider the effect of your changes on the search engines, as well as the readers.