SEO copy: Single keyword versus keyword phrase

October 10, 2006 •

As a rule of thumb, it’s easier and more effective to target keyword phrases than single keywords in your SEO web copy. Why? Because:

  1. The more specific the keyword, the fewer websites there will be targeting it. This means you’ll move up the rankings faster, and you’ll find it easier to achieve a high ranking.
  2. The search results for the more generic keywords tend to be dominated by the big multinationals. E.g. Search for “computers” and you’ll see there are nearly 200 million results and the top rankings are dominated by the Apples and Dells.
  3. Internet users are learning that by searching for more specific strings, they find the information they want quicker (I read a report on this recently, with real statistics and everything! Can’t seem to find it right now. If anyone can cite something useful in this regard, it’d be much appreciated…).
  4. Customers tend to use generic keywords in early searches (e.g. during their initial research) and more specific keywords in later searches (e.g. when they know what they want to buy and they’re looking for someone to buy it from). So by targeting a more specific keyword, you’ll attract more qualified traffic.

Unless you dominate your domain and you have a global presence, you’re better of going with a specific keyword phrase. For example, when it comes time to write your SEO web copy and meta tags:

  • target “cheap second hand computers” instead of “computers”
  • target “tax accountant Sydney” instead of “accountant”
  • target “thai restaurant delivery” instead of “restaurant”
  • target “small blue widgets” instead of “widgets”
  • target “direct response copywriter sydney” instead of “copywriter”

TIP: If you really want or need to target a generic keyword, start out targeting a very specific keyword phrase that includes the more generic – hotly contested – single keyword. For example, you’ll notice that the keyword phrase above, “cheap second hand computers” includes the single keyword “computers”. This way, you’re really targeting both at once. As your site’s importance (or PageRank) and search engine presence increases, you’ll start to rank for the single word as well. In time, you’ll start ranking well for “computers” even though you’re only actively targeting “cheap second hand computers”.

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