As a copywriter, I get a lot of “make sure you get my keywords in, because I want to rank”. And, because I wrote the copy, I even sometimes get “hey, my site isn’t ranking – what did you do wrong?”
Let me tell you the truth about Keywords and Search Engine Rank: Keywords are almost meaningless when it comes to ranking in the search engines.
Now, before anyone gets all up in arms over this let me explain what I mean by that.
To start, let’s establish something: Keywords are immensely powerful in getting a page or website ranked. In fact, on their own, they can propel a site to #1 on Google within hours. That’s how powerful they are.
But wait Dan… didn’t you just say they are meaningless?
Yes, I did. They are both meaningless, and incredibly powerful. I think you’ll understand this better if I just show you the test I did.
Last week, I ran a test with keywords. The two posts that preceded this one were test posts that I put up on 2/11/2010.
The first post was about Dracula smoking cigars with Godzilla. And within two hours, that post was #1 on google. Really, if you typed in Dracula Godzilla Cigars, that post is #1 (this one will likely eventually beat it, too.) Here, see for yourself
Let me repeat that – within two hours, it was NUMBER ONE on Google. You didn’t even need to put quotes around it or anything – just those three words.
Man, that’s serious power. If you had a business that people used those terms to search for, you’re gold.
Then I did a second post maybe 15 minutes later. This one was about home based business advice. I don’t need to post you the Google link – I’m likely still waiting for it to show up in the top 1000. Never mind the top 100, or the top ten. And forget #1. It’s been a week, and that post simple doesn’t show up (edit – it’s now October 1, 2010 – still nowhere to be found. That’s what happens to you if you have online competition at all. In plain terms, keywords – by themselves – are almost meaningless if you have any online competition.)
So, one post shoots to number 1 within two hours. The other doesn’t show up at all (after months). Interesting, huh? So, what’s the difference?
Could it be that maybe, just maybe, there’s ZERO competition for the dracula/godzilla/cigars one? That nobody out there is using those combined words for any of their webpages? (which, by the way, saddens me – I’m a huge Godzilla fan, I like cigars, and Dracula was cool too!)
And for the home based business one there’s… I dunno, maybe FOUR MILLION competitors? (or so – I lose count.)
So that’s why I say Keywords are Meaningless. Most of us are in businesses with ample competition. It goes without saying that almost all of the competition is going to use the same popular keywords. Even if you get creative and use some odd keyphrases, everyone has access to the same keyword tools – it’s unlikely you will be the Godzilla outlier. Plus, it’s the popular terms that get used the most.
Look at it this way – if you are a Houston carpet cleaner, you and probably 100 other businesses use “houston carpet cleaning rug cleaning shampooing drape upholstery” etc etc etc – all the expected stuff is going to be used by all of the businesses in the area. So just using the keywords isn’t enough.
Now let me be clear – I’m not saying you can ignore keywords. You can’t. Not using them would be a killer. But using them is probably not going to help you rank high either. Keywords are one of many ranking criteria search engines use. Thus, you’re generally using the keywords simply to pull you even with everyone else on that particular ranking criteria.
That’s what my home based business post did – it pulled me even with other home based business pages in regards to page title and opening keywords. But it lost heavily on “the other stuff”. So it’s lost amongst the sea of competition. But the Godzilla one… well, that scored a clear knockout. NOBODY out there has more information about godzilla and dracula and cigars ALL ON THE SAME PAGE. There’s no need to look at anything else – put Dan #1. Yay, I win!!!
But I won nothing, really. Nobody else was even playing. Understand what I mean? Keywords are necessary, but they aren’t particularly helpful, either.
Now this always leads to the question of “ok Dan, just how DO you rank?”
Well, to answer that, I’ll start by saying I’m no SEO expert. But I do have a high natural ranking on some competitive keywords, so I do know a little. But I think I’ll save it for another post.
So to sum this up, I essentially wanted to dispel that keywords are IT when it comes to ranking. They aren’t (unless your name is Dracula Godzilla and you own a cigar shop, of course!)