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Targeting one keyword per page–controversial?

I wrote a post on Search Engine Guide last week that turned out to be rather controversial–my advice to target just one organic keyword per page. Enough people disagreed with it, including Jill Whelan, whom I greatly respect, that I decided to clarify what I meant a bit this week. I still think I am giving the right advice for small business owners, but if you want to read more, take a peek at “Targeting one keyword per page–controversial?”

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Chris

    Funny. I have to agree with you since that’s the way I’ve always written and designed my blogs. I target one phrase per article/page. I’m still pretty new and have had ok results. I could only dream getting 3 times the key phrases in on my sites.

  2. Avatar Doug D.

    In my short 6 month seo career (really, I only educated myself for the purpose of optimizing my ecommerce site)It’s not really my occupation.
    Anyway, my feeling is this: I think that a few years ago, it was common for many seo savvy persons…to vie for 2-3 k.w.’s per page, home and inner. I think nowadays, they still do that:BUT, I think some of them have made some adjustments, and have moved a little bit more towards 1-2 k.w.’s per inner page, as perhaps there is more competition on the web as a whole?
    I can tell you this, I have set up my niche e-commerce site- To vie for 2-3 k.w.’s per page. I only went live about 4 weeks ago, with my shopping cart and all. I feel that I am doing quite well using this method. I did exhaustive k.w. research, and my 2-3 phrases are intertwined, so to speak, as well as having some redundancies in the individual words, say within my title tag…as an example.
    I have hundreds of what I consider to be my #1 targeted k.w.’s, on my spreadsheet list. Obviously there are thousands more though. I started with a seed set of an 82 keyword list- those were my most targeted along with higher search volume. The ones that I have been getting anchor text links for, and are prominent in my content…are all on page 1 or 2 of G.
    To sum up: For me personally, using 2-3 k.w.’s per page, is going to work very well for me. I think it comes down to a few variables like: How competitive is your niche? How robust is your content & what is the quality of it? How good is your knowledge of site architecture? How good is your knowledge of best practices for your site structure? Are you a link getting machine, going out and getting quality “proper anchor text” links? Or, are you a jackass-spending your time submitting your site to directories? Did you spend 4 hours doing your k.w. research? Or 4 days? I hope for your sake, it is the latter. There are many other factors, but my point is…if your knowledgeable in these areas, and your doing shit proper, then 2-3 keyword phrases per page…should not be a problem.
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  3. Avatar Jim

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m glad someone finally put that theory out there. I mean, it’s not very popular, but it’s the most sensible thing to do. One organic keyword per page is enough. It makes things easier for the readers, especially small business owners who have a lot to handle.

  4. Avatar Dominic

    As a regular search result user, I too would prefer a single keyword per page search. Makes more sense of the result you get.

  5. Avatar Cornelia Cunningham

    I do not see a problem with targeting one keyword per page. It is the same as targeting one keyword per article submission when you submit an article to article directories.

  6. Avatar Amrita

    Hi, I completely agree with Dominic’s comment. Your advice is really valuable but people always feel trying the other way.

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