When you want a post or page to rank in the search results for a certain query, you optimize it for a particular keyphrase. That keyphrase is the word(s) you want the page to rank for. Sometimes, in our eagerness to rank for a particular term or phrase, we might be tempted to optimize many different articles for that same keyphrase. However, unlike the lottery, increasing the number of entries doesn’t increase your chances at winning big. Optimizing for a keyphrase more than once can actually hurt your SEO. We’ll explore why in this post.
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Don’t compete against your own content
When you optimize two or more articles for the same focus keyphrase, you are sending a message to Google telling them that all of these articles are a good fit for that particular keyphrase. In other words, you are telling Google you want all of those articles in the search results. While this sounds harmless, it actually confuses Google, because it can’t decide which article is best/most important. As a result, Google will rank those posts lower in the search results in favor of a stronger result from your competition.
Arguably, you can get more than one article into the search results for a given query. It has been done before. However, your site must have an incredible amount of authority in Google’s eyes for Google to allow this.
Tempted to use a keyphrase more than once?
Let’s say you have just started up a website that blogs about and sells soy candles. Naturally, you will want to rank for the term [soy candles], but you can’t just optimize every page on your website for that keyphrase. Otherwise, none of your pages will rank, because they are all competing against each other. So what can you do in a situation like this?
Create a cornerstone article
To rank for a broad keyphrase like [soy candles], you will first want to create an amazing cornerstone article in which you discuss all the different aspects of soy candles. Then, you can link to several smaller articles in which you write about those different aspects in more detail. But which keyphrases should you use for all the smaller blog posts?
Optimize for long-tail keywords
To open up your options, think about long-tail variations of that main keyphrase. Using our example, you could optimize for things like [soy candles environmental impact], [are soy candles safe for pets], or [are soy candles hypoallergenic]. When you link all of these smaller articles back to your big article about soy candles, you’ll tell Google which article is most important and should take that top spot in the search results.
Do the same for your products
This same strategy works with the online store portion of a website. In our example, you could group your candles into categories. Let’s say one of those categories is three-wick soy candles. You would then optimize your category page for [three-wick soy candles], rather than trying to rank every single candle in that category for that term.
In this scenario, the category page is the “cornerstone”, while all the individual product pages are the smaller blog articles. The principle for ranking them effectively is the same, just applied to actual products rather than blog posts!
Can you use a keyphrase more than once?
Of course you can. But in most cases doing so isn’t a good idea. Only sites with high authority in Google’s eyes (think Amazon or MSNBC) really stand a chance at ranking multiple pages for a single query.
If you want to rank for a keyphrase, look for those long-tail variations. What questions are people asking about the keyphrase you’re thinking of ranking for? Could you write smaller blog posts that answer those specific questions? While you’re at it, check the search results and see what your competitors are doing. How can you make your content stand out, so that Google rewards you with that top spot instead of them?
I’ve already used a keyphrase more than once. What do I do?
If you already made the mistake of ranking multiple articles for the same keyphrase, don’t worry! You can fix that by auditing your content.
The first thing you’ll want to do is find out which pages you’ve optimized for the same keyphrase. You can find which pages rank for a particular keyphrase in the performance report section of Google Search Console. Take a look at each page individually in the performance report to see which one performs best in Google or brings the most traffic to your site. Then, merge the other articles into that one, creating one amazing post that can soar to the top of the search results.
In order to rank a post or page in the search results, you can’t just add the same keyphrase to every page on your site. If you do this, your pages will end up competing with one another, and Google will pass you by in favor of a better result. Therefore, each page you create on your site should focus on a different keyphrase.
The best way to avoid this sort of problem is to conduct thorough keyword research and come up with a strategy for organizing and optimizing your content. Want to learn how to do that? Get in touch with our SEO experts!