Cover by Rand Fishkin, Jessie Stricchiola, Stephan Spencer, Eric Enge

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Keyword Targeting

The search engines face a tough task: based on a few words in a query (or sometimes only one), they must return a list of relevant results, order them by measures of importance, and hope that the searcher finds what she is seeking. As website creators and web content publishers, you can make this process massively simpler for the search engines and, in turn, benefit from the enormous traffic they send by employing the same terms users search for in prominent positions on your pages.

This practice has long been a critical part of search engine optimization, and although other metrics (such as links) have a great deal of value in the search rankings, keyword usage is still at the core of targeting search traffic.

The first step in the keyword targeting process is uncovering popular terms and phrases that searchers regularly use to find the content, products, or services your site offers. There’s an art and science to this process, but it consistently begins with a list of keywords to target (see Chapter 5 for more on this topic).

Once you have that list, you’ll need to include these keywords in your pages. In the early days of SEO, the process involved stuffing keywords repetitively into every HTML tag possible. Now, keyword relevance is much more aligned with the usability of a page from a human perspective.

Since links and other factors make up a significant portion of the search engines’ algorithms, they no longer rank pages with 61 instances of “free credit report” ...

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