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Key Words In Searches
by: John Fowler
One of the things we don't seem to have much of these days is time. Everyone rushes everywhere and communication is compressed into new shorter forms like all of the text messages I receive, I still don't get all of the abbreviations. There is a danger that this short, fast communication is carried over into web sites we develop. All short, bulleted points lacking any grammar or sentence construction, and as I have said before search engines seem to like well-constructed grammatical sentences.

However, there is another knock-on effect of shortening text and that is the effect it has on key words. I am not really talking about the meta tag keywords here, but the words in the text that the search engines find multiple times. This is often known as key word density i.e. what percentage of the text is taken up by a single word or multi-word phrase. Have you ever considered this in writing your own code? Have you thought yourself very clever, by managing to get 100 instances of your key word in one A4 page?

Having your keywords and phrases sprinkled throughout the text is obviously good, but how can you ensure you don't overdo it. Well, one way is to spend time creating a more lengthy piece of well-written text. This will mean that although you still have lots of key words and phrases in there, their relative density is reduced because of the greater overall volume of text.

We have a number of domains that we run purely to test theories on topics like key word density. By creating multiple pages with similar overall information, but written differently, we can test how the different search engines treat different key word densities. Just a note of warning, don't try this at home. You can actually be sandboxed (your site held in limbo) for having duplicate pages on a single domain. So being able to calculate how similar pages are to one another is important when doing this.

Finally, just a word on meta tag keywords. The importance attached by search engines to keywords specified in the meta tag has greatly reduced due to the overuse of this feature. Many sites I have seen have tried to use the same keywords over and over again. Our advice is to choose these words carefully and use maybe 4 or 5, but don't go over board. Then try and use them throughout the actual page text, but without forcing the density. After all, if they really are your key words, then using them in the text should come naturally.

And now a poem reflecting web page writing techniques.

If I write half a page
and you write thirty four
I can use three keywords
whilst you get forty more
I can be brief and concise
and speedily spit pages out
but your one and only masterpiece
Carries far more clout,
I am but a comic strip
to your Tolstoyan drama
I am all wild excitement
whilst you are perfect karma,
I have few words to play with
to juggle in a subtle key
whilst you have an epic
to aid keyword density
the old bull takes his time
never rushing, always serene
he has created multiple options
whilst young bull was over keen,
so when you code your pages
donít undersell your wording
or you'll be virtually alone
when you should be herding,
ten keywords in a thousand
dilutes the trend to oversell
and makes the reader relax
from the instinct he can tell
that a little page is but a ploy
to put him onto a sales hook,
whereas an interesting article
is worth a second look.

About the author:
John Fowler trained as a Mathematican and has worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, much of the time in sales related functions. He now spends his time between being a partner in SEO Gurus and as a sales and management trainer for ICT companies. John can be contacted via

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