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Keyphrase + Location
Posted 14 September 2004 - 12:14 PM
I'm wondering about optimizing for a keyphrase plus a location. e.g., if I'm doing a site for a massage therapist in Chicago (I'm not ), I would think someone searching in Google would enter: massage therapist chicago (possibly with quotes around the m.t. part).
Now, when I write the text for this page, I can't really work in the phrase "massage therapist Chicago" as is. So, how would Google rank the page if it contained several references to "massage therapist" and "Chicago" (or even "Chicago massage therapist")?
I guess what I'm really getting at, is when looking for keyphrases does Google really look for those phrases as a whole in your text (and/or inlinks) or just the separate words within the phrase (even if they aren't right next to each other)?
Posted 14 September 2004 - 12:37 PM
Here is a quick example. This is what you would see:
One of the best places to go for a relaxing massage in Illinois is right here in Chicago - massage therapy for people on the move.
This is what the search engine sees (kind of - not totally accurate):
They typically ignore "stop words", single letters and numbers, and punctuation. They actually index these things, and you can force the engine to look for them, but the normal result of a standard search doesn't look at them.
This was just a really quick example, I'm sure you could do better (I know I could, given a bit more time) but hopefully it will give you an idea on how to look at things.
Posted 14 September 2004 - 01:54 PM
So, if I have several occurences of the 3 words - massage, therapist, and Chicago - peppered throughout, but not necessarily right next to each other (say separated by non-stop words), would my keyphrase, "masssage therapist" still be counted favorably?
Posted 14 September 2004 - 02:41 PM
The best thing, MHO, to do is as Ian outlined. Try to work the exact phrase(s) you want into your copy, using things like stop words and punctuation to break them up so it sounds natural. You'll do better with your chosen phrases if they actually appear as phrases, rather than simply scattering the individual words throughout the pages.
You'd probably also want to try to get some inbound links using the phrase "massage therapist" as the link anchor text, as well.
Posted 14 September 2004 - 02:50 PM
Posted 14 September 2004 - 04:56 PM
For location phrases, I don't worry about them being in exact order like I would for other types of phrases. You can put them in the exact order in the Title tag, however.
Usually, just having the word Chicago around the page in various places is usually enough to optimize for your locality.
Posted 14 September 2004 - 05:05 PM
Posted 16 September 2004 - 09:44 AM
I would appreciate it if you could give me some further insight into STOP words? or a web link.
Posted 16 September 2004 - 11:05 AM
But because the 3 KW phrase didn't make good reading, I changed the tags and copy to read "massage therapist IN chicago".
I also have more inbound links with the anchor text "massage therpaist chicago".
Unfortunately, Google rates my site no.5 for my amended (lower number of searches) "massage therapist IN chicago", yet I am no.70 for the 3 KW phrase that I wanted a higher place for!
Suppose what I am trying to say is that using stop words DOES matter to Google (despite what it may say in the search results)!
Posted 16 September 2004 - 12:04 PM
From Google's perspective, apparently, the phrase is seen as "massage therapist stop-word Chicago". So, if your site has "massage therapist in Chicago" that will be treated as essentially the same as "massage therapist of Chicago". (Or use any stop word in place of "in" or "of".)
If you can't use the phrase as-is without it sounding goofy (like "massage therapist Chicago") and the phrase with a stop word doesn't get enough searches to make it worthwhile, I'd suggest using some of the techniques Ian demonstrated to work the phrase in to your copy creatively using punctuation and careful sentence wording.
Posted 16 September 2004 - 12:49 PM
Remember though, as Jill alludes to, you can optimise really well without having the keywords in a specific order, since PR and other factors have a strong weighting in Google, specifically.
There was a case (since tweaked and fixed by Google) during the Florida update last November where a search for "calgary web design" showed up the Calgary Flames hockey team website - which has a very high PR but only mentions "calgery" and "web" on it. And not even near each other. I actually spoke with the designer (I'm in Calgary) during this time and he had no idea this had happened, didn't do any SEO work at all, and if he had, it would not have been related to calgary web design.
Although this has been fixed, in this case, the underlying strategy of trusting links more than content remains the same at Google. Just because somone strings some words together in a particular order doesn't mean that the page has suddenly become important or useful because of it, and Google knows that.
Stringing keywords to match a search phrase increases RELEVANCE but not AUTHORITY.
It's possible and common for a page with so-so relevance and high authority to out-perform a page with perfect relevance but low authority. An example of this would be if you were looking to fix a problem with a piece of hardware, so you type in "fix Panasonic KXP-1124 printer".
Now someone else has looked for this same issue and posted in a forum a lengthy diatribe on his issues with his printer and uses the keyphrase exactly several times throughout. But he go no help and the post is mostly just whining. This is excellent "relevance" but low authority.
The official Panasonic printer support website in this case would have high authority but since they may not mention that phrace at all, or not in that order, it would have lower relevance but very high authority.
Which of these would be the best result? The official site. Authority overrides relevance once it's deemed both sites are relevant.
Now lets say there is a third site, someone reads the first post I talked about above, and outlines a detailed reponse on how to fix the problem. The post has the keyword phrase in it exactly, and it turns out to be so useful that from then on whenever anyone had a problem with their kxp-1124 printer the moderators of the forum (and elsewhere) posted a link to it.
This result has high authority AND high relevance - it's completely on topic and is linked to as a useful resource. Naturally, you want to duplicate this result with your own website.
So if you can't use the keyword phrase exactly, get as close as you can and then build authority (links). If you are having a hard time getting links (or are just starting out) you can attempt to compensate with matching search criteria. Neither is a good idea by itself- the best sites have both.
In practice, if you get the keyword phrase exactly in the title (and maybe a heading) and then talk about the subject using lots of keywords but not necessarily in the perfect order, and then have a strong linking campaign you will beat almost any competition, unless they are doing exactly the same thing - in which case you have to do it more and better than them.
Two things to remember in all of this - it takes no effort to type in exact phrases in a web page, and it's pretty popular with spammers. The result is that a page that is "over-optimized" or, not to put too fine a point on it, spammed, can trip a filter that dumps or penalizes it. The details on this are vague, but it's pretty certain that simply typing a keyphrase repeatedly on a page isn't a good thing.
It also doesn't convert well for the buying public - which is the goal of the whole thing in the first place.
You will need to compromise - just increase the relevance as best as you can without spamming, thenm work on your authority (links) and everything will usually work out.
If there is a professional SEO on the competitions side, it's more difficult, of course, and some minor tactics change, but the overall strategy remains.
Posted 16 September 2004 - 02:13 PM
Thanks for the very detailed and useful reply - this should help myself and many others.
So, especially with Google, authority (or links) are the most important (including the wording in anchor text?). And relevance (or KWs in tags and copy) are important.
But it still riles me when I see sites with better SERPS than me but with the poor english phrase (for example) "massage therapist chicago" in their title, heading and copy!!
Actually, I have a more difficult KW phrase to write without stop words and that is:
"rent a villa in spain" which people search for using "rent villa spain".
Could you possible give any sentences (as you did for "message therapist chicago") showing how I can incorporate my 5 KW phrase?
Thanks (if it is possible).
Posted 17 September 2004 - 08:29 PM
I would be really interested to hear what findings others have experienced with the key phrase order when locations are involved!
Posted 17 September 2004 - 09:08 PM
Typically large urban centers and internet saavy places tend to start searches with the location and then add the item - ie New York plumber. Residents know they only want something in New York and they also know the search will result in a match.
In places where the match isn't as certain, such as a smaller town or county, residents will often start off with the item first, then narrow it down. ie plumber Strathmore.
It will also change dramatically if you have a verb in the phrase (ie "rent" "buy" or "sell")
There are exceptions to this, and some industries change the ruleset a bit - real estate being an example. Almost always the searcher will start with the city first.
Since each town and industry is different, I definately recommend doing your research for location specific phrases.
Posted 18 September 2004 - 05:31 PM
One advantage of that is that it certainly makes the copywriting easier if you can use both 'Real Estate Chicago' and 'Chicago Real Estate' - makes the copy flow better and seem less stilted.
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