Keyword optimization is at the heart of SEO, but its importance is often downplayed. As a result, keyword cannibalization — commonly referred to as keyword blurring — can be a major problem. Most website content revolves around a theme or series of themes, with associated keywords described by a slew of witty terms such as “keyword buckets,” “keyword silos,” or the more down-to-earth “keyword themes.” Websites frequently mix themes and subject matter from page to page. While this may make sense from a user-interaction perspective, it can be counter-intuitive from a search engine’s perspective.
To help clarify the situation, consider the larger entity of “keywords” as having three parts: 1) core word, 2) keyword phrase, and 3) extended keyword phrase. Core words are commonly repeated through many pages on a website, making it difficult (if not impossible) to rank for a core word or one-word phrase via on-page optimization alone. Examples of core words include “book,” “website,” “TV,” or “music.” Keyword phrases are also often repeated through multiple website pages, and this is generally where blurring occurs. Keyword phrase examples include “harry potter book,” “website design,” “JVC TV,” or “rock music.” Extended keyword phrases are less commonly repeated on multiple pages of a site, and often need to be limited to only one page of a website. Some examples of extended keyword phrases include “harry potter and the goblet of fire,” “small business website design,” “JVC 32-inch plasma TV,” or “rolling stones paint it black.”
Now that we’ve established the basic types of keywords, let’s explore some best practices for their use.