Is it best to have multiple keywords on an optimized page or create multiple optimized pages with different keywords?
I received this question in an email last week from a customer trying to determine the best SEO strategy for optimizing their website content. I thought it was an interesting question, rather questions, for a number of reasons.
I can see through this questioning and quite clear. The customer is grasping at every straw possible to drive do-it-yourself SEO results in the shortest amount of time possible.
They are viewing SEO as a science based on a magical SEO formula to rank well rather than both art and science.
It’s much like a man showering a woman with gifts, dinner, and no conversation of any sort and expecting the woman to fall in love with him for who he is and not what he gives. You get the point, but I digress.
SEO is both an art and science when it comes to refining and finessing your optimized content marketing efforts.
Just don’t pick topics like playing a game of roulette because this can lead to a wide range of disjointed and irrelevant topics.
For an optimized content marketing strategy to be successful, all topics must work together and seamlessly fit. You must practically plan your content first and keywords second.
Even if you were to pick your keywords, both head and long tail keywords, first, it is in your best interest to plan your content marketing to be conversational rather than keyword-laden.
As for this customer, I instructed them to really answer the true question at heart of why they were focusing on keywords instead of writing sociable content that educates and solves customer problems.
Keywords have their place in SEO and optimized content marketing, just not the sole intent of content marketing.
As SEO progresses with each update, content marketing that ranks well is becoming less about keywords, and more about content being conversational and sociable.
Producing keyword-laden content for the sake of only ranking well in search engines is cutting content marketing efforts short with both customers and search engines.
I take no issue in a customer wanting their SEO efforts to be effective and timely in results. Where I do take issue is at the point customers approach the slippery slope of keyword stuffing disguised as optimized content marketing.
Personally, I think it’s too easy at times to get caught up in SEO and the optimization of content marketing. Customers that do find themselves SEO snared by keyword stuffing – heavily penalized or de-indexed by search engines – often have lost focus on the purpose of their content marketing.
Instead of focusing their content marketing efforts on solving customer problems, they adamantly focus on keywords to the point of keyword exhaustion or saturation. Customers are left with a mangled website of overly optimized content.
Although I believe search rankings can be obtained taking either path, one has to understand the pros and cons of each path when optimizing content marketing efforts.
Optimized content marketing using multiple keywords on a page
For instance, this customer could optimize for multiple keywords on an optimized page. I’m not sure how successful this strategy would become over time with continuous SEO updates.
The client would be more successful using variations of one keyword or keyword phrase for optimized content on more than just one page.
Inexperienced small business owners who engage in DIY SEO tend to fall prey to a common SEO pitfall in taking same keyword and writing multiple pages. These pages are keyword-laden in an attempt to try to reach a certain keyword density instead of taking a more conversational approach.
In addition, these overly optimized pages tend to not be linked together or if they are linked together, then there is not a primary page that all pages link to as an authoritative page for the their keyword. But more on authoritative pages and linking in a minute though.
Content marketing example using keyword variation
As an example, the customer’s keyword or keyword phrase could be “seo costs”. Instead of overly saturating their content with “seo costs”, the customer could use the following variations: cost of seo, seo pricing, expensive seo, and cheap seo.
Using keyword variations in optimizing your content marketing efforts allows for your content to read well while maintaining SEO effectiveness.
In addition, keyword variations offer an opportunity for your content marketing strategy to be received well as conversational content by search engines, more specifically Google Hummingbird.
Optimized content marketing using multiple keywords on multiple pages
We’ve discussed the downside of multiple keywords on a single page, and how to go about remedying the problem that can happen with such an optimization strategy.
However, optimizing your content marketing efforts using multiple keywords on multiple pages can be just as ineffective when not properly structured and executed.
Many times optimizing content using multiple keywords on multiple pages ends up in a disjointed SEO effort that negatively impacts overall search rankings as well as the identified keyword search rankings.
When choosing to optimize content using multiple keywords on multiple pages, it is best and most effective to create a parent-child relationship or a tent pole page for each of the keywords.
For example, let’s say your keyword is “lean six sigma”. You create a parent page to be an authoritative for the purpose of linking other “lean six sigma” keywords and their respective pages too.
When creating parent-child relationships between pages, it is best to not overlap the topics of your child pages. You would not want to write about “lean six sigma 101” and “lean six sigma basics” as both pages are synonymous and can be considered the same topic.
Simply put, don’t write about the same thing five different ways. You want to be clear and precise in topic when creating parent-child relationships.
A better approach is writing about “lean six sigma training” and “lean six sigma certification” as two different topics and pages that link back to the “lean six sigma” authoritative page.
Create a content marketing plan that can stand on its own, and not keywords only
It’s my hope to have shed some light on the importance of topic versus keyword when optimizing your content marketing efforts.
No matter your SEO effort, I can’t stress enough the importance in having sound planning and structure in your content marketing efforts.
It is not enough to pick a grab bag of keywords, and recklessly laud them throughout one or multiple pages of content that lacks purpose in educating and informing customers about solving their issues.
This once golden trick to list your website on the front pages of search engines is no longer effective.
It’s now just a SEO trick dipped in bronze and collecting dust with the other dubious ways to game search engines using keyword-laden content for the sole sake of ranking.
Content marketing is the new SEO that is going to take a finite finessing from the old SEO as we know it.
When your content marketing efforts are conversational and organically socialized by the Internet in mass, then SEO naturally takes care of itself.
If not, then your content marketing efforts become a useless science of SEO while lacking art of being social and conversational in topic.