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SEO Website Audit

Will Longer Keyphrases Hinder the Effectiveness of Your Copy?

October 11, 2006
The length of search phrases continues to grow.  Back when the Internet was
just an upstart, single keywords were the only thing you needed.  But in
recent years we've seen the number of words used in search phrases triple
and quadruple.  Rather than a single keyword, searchers who live in
countries where English is the primary language are now using three- and
four-word phrases as a standard, according to Web analytics company

While the worldwide average is two words per search phrase, the USA, Canada,
the United Kingdom and Australia all show that searchers prefer the use of
three- or four-word terms. What does this mean from a copywriting
standpoint?  Writing with a single keyword in mind is relatively easy.
Using two-word terms is a bit more of a challenge.  But when you get to
three- and four-word phrases, your risk of sounding stiff and awkward
increases substantially.

Why Longer Phrases?

Longer search phrases are the natural progression of the Internet population
boom.  As more and more information is placed online, it becomes
increasingly difficult to find exactly what you're looking for.  When there
were only a few thousand sites, entering the word "marketing" into a search
engine would bring up a handful of sites for you to choose from.

Now, however, you find hundreds of thousands of sites dealing with
everything from marketing plans to marketing jobs to university curriculums
for marketing degrees. The natural action for copywriters is to follow the
search trend of the target audience and use the keyphrases that they use.

That leads us back to our original question. how?

Tips for Writing with Keyphrases

The biggest mistake I find search engine optimization (SEO) copywriters
making is attempting to substitute a generic term for a specific keyphrase.
For example:

At our Mexico cruise vacation site we offer the best rates on Mexico cruise
vacation packages to the most exciting Mexico cruise vacation destinations.
Visit our Mexico cruise vacation specials page for deep discounts today!


Welcome to our Chicago web design firm site. If you're looking for
innovative and creative Chicago web design firm, you've come to the right
place.  No other Chicago web design firm has the talent or technological
skills to develop the type of high-end sites we do.  When you're ready for a
truly professional Chicago web design firm, contact us today.

Oh please!  My 10-year-old nephew could write better copy than that.  When
you substitute generic terms (in this case: site, packages, vacation
destinations, vacation specials, etc.) with the specific search phrase, you
get a bunch of repetitive, awkward babble. The longer the keyphrases are,
the more clunky the copy will sound.

The best advice I can give is to break up some of the mentions of longer
keyphrases.  Yes, you do need to keep the words of the phrase in the same
order most of the time. However, by using punctuation and other elements you
can still make the phrase appear less obtrusive.

For example, let's look at our Mexico cruise vacation site again.  Rather
than using that bunch of fluff written above, try this instead:

Long stretches of sunny beaches, delightful fiestas filled with lively bands
and some of the most delicious fresh seafood you've ever tasted. Where can
you find it?  In Mexico! Cruise vacation destinations from Cancun to Cozumel
offer some of the most exciting adventures and beautiful scenery found in
Mexico.  Cruise vacation specials make these remarkable getaways even more
affordable than you might think - etc., etc.

Do you see what was done?  Using punctuation, the phrase "Mexico cruise
vacation" was broken up between sentences.  Because the search engines all
but ignore punctuation, they see the phrase as one term.  However, the site
visitor doesn't.  They don't notice that the phrase is being repeated
because it spans two sentences.

If the trend continues as it has in the past, search phrases will continue
to get even longer in the not-so-distant future.  However, when you get
creative with keyphrase use in your copy, you'll find longer search terms
are not a problem to work with.

Karon Thackston
Marketing Words, Inc.

Post Comment

 Denise Landers said:
Great information for those of us who are trying to keep up with the ins and out of internet marketing processes.
 ellie said:
awesome! thanks so much for your excellent explanation!
 ellie said:
I have been searching everywhere for answers to these questions and there are so many varied opinions out there--so thanks!