Of Keyword Bondage: Breaking the Chains of SEO

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Sarah S

ball-and-chain

Clients often ask for seemingly impossible keywords in blog posts or articles, but they also want compelling, original content. Incorporating a long keyword eight times in 300 words makes it difficult to create Pulitzer-winning material, so it’s a good thing Google isn’t in the business of handing out literary prizes. Still, content writers and marketers can often do more to increase quality and engagement while incorporating tough keywords.

Appropriate Use of Stop Words

Search engines usually ignore stop words, which means you can interweave them into SEO phrases without damaging effectiveness. A keyword such as “florist Houston Dallas Texas” becomes a statement such as “Call a professional florist in Houston or Dallas, Texas.” Useful stop words include:

  • a
  • an
  • as
  • at
  • all
  • be
  • by
  • can
  • do
  • far
  • for
  • go
  • how
  • if
  • in
  • it
  • let
  • me
  • my
  • no
  • no
  • on
  • of
  • or
  • so
  • to
  • use

Pronouns, prepositions, and many of the most common adjectives are stop words. Each search engine is programmed differently, but most content writers should stick to Google stop words for best performance.

Don’t wedge stop words into titles or meta descriptions, though. Titles perform best at 65 to 70 characters, and using stop words takes up space without providing relevance for the search engine.

Creative, but Grammatical, Punctuation

Search engines also ignore punctuation when it comes to SEO purposes. Break up awkward keywords with commas, periods, semi-colons, or colons. The keyword “best HVAC services Orlando Florida,” can be used in numerous ways.

  • When the heat is on and your air conditioning is bust, you want the fastest, best HVAC services. Orlando, Florida, is hot during summer months, making quality HVAC repair important.
  • Get the best HVAC services in Orlando, Florida.
  • Protect your family from summer heat by hiring the best. HVAC services in Orlando, Florida including maintenance, repair, and installation.

Even Keyword Seasoning

Keyword preferences are like food. Some clients like their content spicy and chock full of keywords while others are happy with one or two mentions of the phrase. For the clients who like it hot, season content evenly by using the phrase in various ways throughout. Try to include keywords in headers or sub-headers as well as content paragraphs, and change up how you incorporate the phrase. If you use “in” as a stop word in one mention, use punctuation or a different stop word in the next to break up content, add variety, and make the piece flow. Above all, remember the reader: search engines evaluate content for rankings, but once the reader’s on the page, content needs to be relevant and readable.

Sarah S has been wedging keywords into content for years. Her favorite keyword so far has been “raw brain green food.” It turns out, the piece didn’t have anything to do with zombies.


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