SEO: Commas and Punctuation in Keyword Phrases

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While some SEO content providers have made the switch to using common sense when asking for SEO-specific content, others should spend more time considering how they choose keyword phrases. Pawn shop Dallas, new roof Birmingham, Thai vacation cheap are example of keywords that do not add value to your content. If anything, they distract the reader and make him or her question what you are trying to convey. These kinds of keywords are frustrating for writers to work with and are difficult to use. Personally, I look at the keywords before I choose to accept an assignment.

Think About the Keyword Choices and Stats

Pawn shop Dallas might be showing stats of 12,000 hits a month, but the bigger picture is different. There is an assumption in the keyword phrase “pawn shop Dallas” that ties local search marketing to internet search results. The equation reads pawn shop + Dallas. Too many clients see the stats for pawn shop Dallas and think that is a magic keyword. There is nothing magic about a grammatically incorrect keyword phrase. New Roof Birmingham is another prime example of the same equation: New roof + Birmingham. If that keyword is achieving 12,000 hits a month, then you are looking at the assumption of the local market. The key word, no pun intended, is “assumption.”

Google Hummingbird: The Focus of Intent

The algorithm was launched in late 2013 as a tool to allow Google to understand the intent behind each internet search. Intent, meaning to take pawn shop Dallas and tie it to the real intent of the searcher. That intent is not likely to show up in keyword tools. The search results are likely altered by Google to provide a SERP that is more inline with what Google thinks is the intent behind the search. Pawn Shop + Dallas, the equation, now becomes meaningful.

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As you can see from this screen shot of the SERP for pawn shop Dallas, there are no results that match that keyword exactly. The phrases used are Pawn Shops serving the Dallas area and top pawn shops in Dallas. The rest are the results of pawn shops that are from the map. Those pawn shops are ranked by user feedback rather than by keyword phrases.

These results also show that there is a common sense that these clients have used to rank at the top of the SERP. That common sense is clear in their keyword selection, which are normal, grammatically correct keyword phrases. “Pawn shop Dallas” is a form of a keyword phrase that existed and was popular before Google launched a zoo of Internet search improvements, like Panda, Hummingbird, and Penguin. Today, that zoo will outsmart you unless you use common sense. “Pawn shop Dallas” is used only to link your content to the local market. The same objective can be achieved by using a grammatically correct keyword phrase, such as Pawn shop in Dallas.

Good content is readable, imparts knowledge, and is relevant to the keyword phrases that you choose. You can improve the quality of your content with grammatically correct keyword phrases.

David S is a freelance content writer who produces articles and blogs for a handful of clients, including SEO content providers. He is currently celebrating his fifth year as a full-time freelance content writer. He produces content on topics such as travel, outdoor living, green living, and science.


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