I'm confused in general about some SEO stuff. I was beginning to think I understood and then someone threw a wrench into my thoughts.

We talk about the importance of keyword phrases -- is that a per-page thing or a per-site thing? I mean for example if you are submitting a site to google.com -- you submit www.yoursite.com -- now Google evidently will spider that whole site when doing searches, is that correct? Then if your whole 10-page site was dedicated to middle-aged women, is keyword density based upon one page in that site or the whole site?


Dawn Burian

++Jill's Response++

Hi Dawn,

The easy answer is that as far as the search engines are concerned, every page of your site has its own unique keyword phrases based upon the information it provides. This means that when a search engine is determining which page in its database is relevant to the search query at hand, it's looking for the best, most relevant *page* -- not *site*.

For many years, there was a lot of talk in the search engine optimization world about themes and theming. The belief was that if an entire site was focused on one particular theme (or set of keyword phrases), its pages would have a greater likelihood of ranking highly for the keywords in its theme than other pages that weren't part of a tightly focused site. I for one never put much stock in that theory. Most sites by their very nature are focused to a certain extent on one major subject, but even if one wasn't, it never seems to hurt its search engine rankings.

For instance, for years I hosted a site in a separate directory of my old webwhiz.net domain that was selling screen enclosures. The rest of my site was about search engine optimization (and in the old days, Web design). Yet, the screen enclosure pages ranked fine for their keyword phrases, and the rest of my pages ranked fine for their keyword phrases. So I wouldn't worry about any off-topic pages on your site "breaking your theme" and hurting your rankings or anything like that. It shouldn't be a problem at all.

On a deeper level, however, all of the pages of your site actually do play a role in how you'll get your rankings. For instance, if you just have a one-page site, you may have difficulties getting decent rankings with it. This is mostly due to the fact that years ago one-page doorway pages were prevalent. The engines place a bit more scrutiny on a one-page site than those with many pages of content.

Another way that all of your pages work in conjunction with one another is through the linking structure. Let's say your home page links out to all of your inner pages, and your inner pages only link back to your home page, but not to each other. This signals to the search engine that the home page is the most important one on the site, and therefore it may have a better chance at ranking highly for its targeted keyword phrases. Also, if your inner pages link to your home page with a specific keyword phrase in the hyperlinks, this could help the home page rank highly for that phrase.

Your question also addresses submitting your site to Google. You are correct that Google requests that you submit only your home page, and it will spider the rest. In reality, you don't even have to submit your home page, just make sure it's listed from another page on the Web that's in Google's database, and it will get spidered that way. Don't be concerned if *just* your home page is listed for a few weeks to a few months with a new site. Google tends to add the inner pages more slowly than the home page.

Regarding the keyword-density issue, if your 10 pages are devoted to "middle-aged women" there will still (hopefully) be a sub-focus within the middle-aged women category, on each page. So instead of focusing on the phrase "middle-aged women" on every page, you would want to focus on something more specific. In other words, you might have a page that talked about "empty-nest syndrome." That should be the keyword phrase for that particular page. You may or may not want to also focus on the "middle-aged women" phrase along with it.

Keyword density as a whole is measured on a per-page basis, if it's even measured at all. It's really not something you need to worry about. No need for keyword-density analyzers and percentage calculators that make your head spin. Just read your copy; read it silently, and read it out loud. If you hear your keyword phrases cropping up incessantly, then your keyword density is too high. If you can read the copy and know exactly which keyword phrases you're optimizing for, and yet it sounds like wonderful prose, then you've done your job as an SEO copywriter perfectly!

Hope this helps.

November 10, 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, Inc.com, 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 > SEO Confusion: Keywords by Page or Site?