Friday, May 30, 2008

Learning SEO - Keyword density....and other BS...

One of my colleagues, studying and learning about SEO, asked me about keyword density. He'd been speaking to an SEO expert who talked about his great results by focusing on 4.5% (or something) keyword density. He wanted to know what my opinion was.

My opinion is that it's bunk. Or at least, learning about and focusing on something like keyword density, is a million miles away from my understanding of and approach to placing well in the search engine. It's technical and finicky and dumb to interest.

I take the view that google has a constantly shifting algorithm. And to figure out what to do, start by trying to put yourself in google's shoes. How does Mr Google decide who to rank for a given term?

First, google looks for pages that are relevant which are pages that use that term alot. Say the term was "learning games", google starts by finding pages that talk about learning games. Specifically, gooogle considers (in this order);
- Do incoming links to that page use "learning games" as anchor text?
- Is the page's title: "learning games"?
- Is "learning games" in the URL, particularly in the domain name?

- are there H1 and H2 titles that are "learning games"?
- Are there at least a few uses of the term "learning games" on the page? Lets guess that google gives you top marks for this criteria if you have between 1% and 8% keyword density on the page. Below 1%, you might not really be about learning games. Above 8%, it's probably a stuffed spammy page.
- Do the links to your page come from pages that are full of learning games?
- Does your site in general have lots of learning games?
- Are other terms, that are statistically and semantically linked to learning games, such as "an educational game", showing up in on the page, on the domain, on the pages and domains from which your links come from, and on the pages that this page points to.

My point is this. For relevancy, there is no magic percentage that is better than another. The difference between a keyword density of 3.4% and 5.3% makes no logic as a focal point for google's ranking or for an SEO's effort. It might have worked but going forward, it can't be part of the plan.....

After finding some relevant pages, google then ranks them by links. They count the links. Do all links count and do they all count the same? That folks, is a story for another day

This is my $.02 on understanding and learning and educating myself about SEO. And my effort at promoting what I care about: learning, education, fun, and games. Like this one. Learning & teaching seo.


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