From: David Clark

Dear Jill,

I have exhaustively trawled through my site log files and people hardly ever bother with quotes. In fact I can't ever find an instance of where my most important two keywords were searched for as a genuine phrase (i.e. put in quotes) although they are a natural combination.

I have tried searching for these two keywords, with and without quotes. In the first case we are #1 in Google but as individual words we are only #6.

The point I am trying to make is: Are phrases really important or should we, because of the way people search, stick to optimizing individual words?

Thank you!

David Clark


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi David,

You are correct that most people *don't* search with quotes on. Regardless of this, keyword phrases are absolutely, positively important!

The reason you need to use your keyword phrases in the exact order is very simple: You'll have a better chance of ranking highly in the engines for your phrases -- even when people search without quotes.

If you were a search engine, which page would you return first in the results? The one with the search phrase exactly as it was entered into the search engine, or the one that uses the same words, but in different ways? It's really as simple as that.

Be sure to use every phrase in the exact order that people are searching for them -- a number of times -- in your copy, in your Title tags, plus in the links that point to your site. (Don't forget to do your Wordtracker keyword research first, or check out last week's "Stuff You Might Like" section to learn about SEO Research Labs, an awesome new keyword research service.)

May 29, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Optimizing Using Phrases or Words