What if I want to target more than one keyword in my SEO copy?

October 23, 2006 •

If you’re targeting exact strings in your SEO copy, you’ll find it difficult to effectively target more than 2 keyword phrases per page. This is particularly true if you’re targeting very specific keyword phrases.

For example, let’s say you want your tennis clothing page to rank well when a customer searches for the following phrases (i.e. they type EXACTLY what you see below).

  • “blue tennis shoes in California”
  • “green tennis skirts on the West Coast”
  • “purple tennis hats”
  • “fastest tennis shoes in the world”

Let’s also assume your tennis clothing page can’t exceed 400 words before it becomes too text-heavy (and looks like a spam site).

Now, if you try to optimize your web copy for ALL of these exact strings, you’ll find that it becomes very difficult to read. Assuming you’re aiming for a keyword density of 3%, you’d need to include each of the above phrases more than 10 times. That would mean approx half of the copy on your page would be keyword strings!

There are two ways to work around this:

  1. Don’t target exact strings – Instead, target the unique words from the phrases, not the phrases themselves. In the above example, the unique (and meaningful words) would be: blue, tennis, shoes, California, green, skirts, West, Coast, purple, hats, fastest, world. (Notice that I didn’t include “tennis” or “shoes” more than once, and I also didn’t include words like “in” or “on”.) If you include each of these words approx 10 times anywhere in your copy, you’ll achieve much the same result as if you had targeted each exact string. (I say “much the same” because when someone searches for “purple tennis hats”, all things being equal, a website that targets the exact string “purple tennis hats” will rank higher than a website that targets “purple” and “tennis” and “hats”.) But even if you do this, you’ll still find it difficult to make the copy readable because over a quarter of your page will be keywords!
  2. Create additional pages – This is normally the best way to go. Just make your pages more specific. Have one page for “blue tennis shoes in California”, one for “green tennis skirts on the West Coast”, one for “purple tennis hats”, etc. This way, you only around 10% of your copy will be dedicated to keywords. This results in much more readable, natural-looking pages. And in the above example, it would also result in a much more logically structured site; a well structured site typically wouldn’t discuss all of the above items on the same page.

NOTE: When thinking about keyword density, please bear in mind my previous entries on keyword density in SEO copy.

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