Q: When generating your top 10 keyword list you say that one step is to combine your keywords. This confused me and I was hoping you could provide additional perspective.
On my top 10 list I have 3 phrases:
great hamburger stands
best hamburger stands
Do you mean I should shrink this to 2 phrases (“great hamburger stands ” and “best hamburger stands”). If that’s the case, wouldn’t I be dropping out anyone who searches for “hamburger stands” which is a much broader (and very relevant) term for me? Won’t I miss a lot of people by doing this?
A: We do recommend combining keyword phrases when they contain the same keyword(s) in them. Let’s say your visible text contains 7 instances of the phrase “great hamburger stands.” The search engines will know that your page is relevant to both “hamburger stands” and “great hamburger stands”, and you won’t “miss” your target audience. Technically, the keyword density (number of instances of the keyword phrase compared to the total number of words on the page) will be better for “great hamburger stands” vs. “hamburger stands,” but unless you’re in an extremely competitive situation, it’s still fine to combine the two on a given page.
Another very good reason to combine keywords is that it usually makes for much better writing. It’s important to avoid keyword-stuffed, repetitive sentences like this: “If you’re looking for hamburger stands, we’ll show you the best hamburger stands because we’re all about hamburger stands, especially the BEST hamburger stands.” And you want to avoid HTML title tags like: “ZappyCo: Hamburger Stands and Best Hamburger Stands,” because it’s not compelling to write that way!
And, most importantly, just because you’re combining the phrases doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use just “hamburger stands” on your site – you should feel free to use it as needed! And you can also track your site’s performance for both variations of the terms.
We’re talking about organic (non-paid) optimization here. If you’re opening a pay-per-click account, as a rule it’s actually better to list all variations of your keyword phrases if you have the budget to do so.