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Question About How Search Engines Read

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9 replies to this topic

#1 carltonrsmith


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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:25 AM

I am somewhat new to SEO, so forgive me if this is a 101 question. I'm going through one of our websites and making recommendations to change sub-channel names. Currently, one of our subchannels Title appears as:
British/Irish - Browse All Recipes - Food & Recipes - [Brand Name]

I am researching the keywords, and obviously, it would be smarter to rewrite the titles as British and Irish Recipes, since Irish has 121K global search volume behind it.

My question is, the search engines will still read it as "british+and+irish+recipes," which has NO search volume, correct? So would my best bet be to stick with British/Irish Recipes in the formatting? Am I splitting hairs here?

I suppose my question has more to do with the exact ways that search engines see phrases. Please direct me to any articles or resources as well.

I'm happy to have stumbled onto this forum.


#2 Jill


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Posted 13 October 2009 - 11:19 AM

They see the words/phrases in the exact order you put them in. So you want to use exact phrase matches where ever possible.

#3 Michael-F


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Posted 13 October 2009 - 11:31 AM

If someone got to your site with the keyword "Irish," would they have any interest in what you're offering? It seems like the kind of keyword that would bring in the wrong kinds of traffic. You'll want to target phrases that bring in the people who would be interested in what you have to offer.

It will probably take a bit of research to figure out exactly what your ideal visitor enters into a search query. From there, it's all about optimizing each page for those keyphrases.

My initial reaction, having done no research on your particular phrases, would be to split the British and Irish page into two separate pages - one for British and one for Irish - to have pages targeted specifically at what people are looking for.

As far as the question of how Google reads it, Google will parse your title word by word, phrase by phrase. It reads each word as its own keyword and each phrase as its own keyphrase. In my experience, it can even pick up keyphrases that are listed out of order - the title "one two" can rank for the search term "two one" - this isn't as effective as having them in the correct order, though.

The trick is going to be finding the exact right keyphrases for your target audience, and getting them into a title that people will want to click on.

Edited by Michael-F, 13 October 2009 - 11:36 AM.

#4 Michael Martinez

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 12:29 PM

The search engines will favor the order in which they find your words but if your site is robust enough and if it accrues enough value-passing links, they will compute relevance on the basis of alternate word orders for matching queries. However, the chances of your pages appearing for those alternate queries diminish if other documents match them exactly.

In other words, given four documents using the same keywords in different orders, these are the generally assumed priorities (there is no guarantee it always works this way because I'm being very, very simplistic to illustrate a point):
  • Document Able uses "my specific keyword expression"
  • Document Baker uses "my specific keyword expression" and has links pointing to it with the anchor text of "my specific keyword expression"
  • Document Charlie uses "my expression specific keyword"
  • Document David uses "my expression specific keyword" and has links pointing to it with the anchor text of "my expression specific keyword"

All four documents are relevant to both expressions. However, conventional wisdom suggests that (all other things being considered equal):

For "My specific keyword expression" the expected rankings would usually look like:
  • Document Baker
  • Document Able OR Document David
  • Document David OR Document Able
  • Document Charlie

For "My expression specific keyword" the expected rankings would usually look like:
  • Document David
  • Document Charlie OR Document Baker
  • Document Baker OR Document Charlie
  • Document Able

A lot of things could happen to change these expected results. Document content can change, links can be acquired or lost, and the search engines can play with the ranking algorithms.

The expectation is set by SEO conventional wisdom, which tends to be right about as often as it tends to be wrong (for very complex sociological reasons we don't have time to discuss here). SEO conventional wisdom reflects the aggregate experience, knowledge, and opinion of the active SEO community (people who blog, participate in forum/blog discussions, write articles, speak at conferences, present seminars, etc.) -- that aggregate shifts over time as search engines change their algorithms, guidelines, and outreach as well as people experiment with new methods and resources.

#5 adibranch


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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:31 PM

in short, it will probably see "british and irish recipes" as ..

British and irish recipes
British and Irish
Irish Recipes
British Recipes

in that order. However, seeing as "british and irish" is a non-sense term those two wont really matter and can be disregarded from your thoughts.

Also, seeing as 'british' is your first word, it will give greater prominence to 'british' than 'irish' as single words, so it should even up quite nicely.

The ideal is of course 'british recipes and irish recipes', or splitting them into two pages as others have said. However, give the page enough links with each as link text and it will rank well for both anyway.

Either way just try and see what happens. SEO is all about experimentation.

#6 blackirish.ken


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Posted 15 October 2009 - 04:16 PM

To achieve the highest degree of relevancy, you should create two separate categories/pages:

British Recipes
Irish Recipes

Because they are in fact two different things, and lumping both topics together on the same page of content only dilutes their individual, topical relevancy.

Point being, if I write about dog breeds and I want to rank on the separate keywords "bulldogs" and also "sheep dogs," I'm certainly not going to create one page that tries to speak to both subjects and call it the "bulldogs and sheep dogs" page. I will create one, separate, authoritative resource/page for each dog breed. That way, my page content is much more specific to that individual subject and much more relevant to the keywords/query I'm trying to rank on.

#7 adibranch


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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:06 AM

well, there is room for more than one phrase on a page and it can still be as effective. I dont think there's room for any more, but many on here do.

#8 blackirish.ken


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Posted 16 October 2009 - 12:31 PM

If by "more than one phrase" you mean targeting variations of the same keyword and stemming, then yes I agree.

But if you're saying that having one page that targets both British and Irish recipes can be just as effective at ranking for the individual queries as two separate pages, then I'd disagree.

But that's the beauty of SEO: different strokes for different folks.

#9 Jill


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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:16 PM

What blackishish.ken said...

#10 adibranch


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Posted 17 October 2009 - 10:01 AM

QUOTE(blackirish.ken @ Oct 16 2009, 12:31 PM) View Post
If by "more than one phrase" you mean targeting variations of the same keyword and stemming, then yes I agree.

yes that is what i meant.. However, bulldogs and sheep dogs are related in the same way as British recipes and irish recipes.
Now, 'bulldogs' and 'stamp collecting' on the other hand....

And yes i'd create two pages too, but it depends on the site structure and how it would affect or confuse your visitors.

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