There are a lot of different ways to say the same thing. Anyone who has performed keyword research knows that people search for a lot of the same things using very different phrases and terminology. For example, if you're looking to build your online business, you could search for: internet marketing, website marketing, online marketing, website promotion, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, SEO, and a dozen other variations.

Or if you're a physician looking to manage health records online, you could search for: EHR, EMR, electronic health records, electronic medical records, medical software, personal health records, practice management software, and so on. One of the problems many business owners and SEOs come up against is how to optimize their site for each of these variations that all potentially mean the same thing.

Quite often, your website will have different pages on your site that can be (or already are) focused on different aspects of your service that cover each of these topics as separate entities. In other cases, your similar phrases can be (or are) used interchangeably throughout the site.

The problem comes when each of these similarly defined terms is extremely competitive, and using them interchangeably won't allow you a strong enough SEO focus to achieve rankings for any of them. You need pages that focus on one (or just a couple) phrase(s) at a time if you want them to be successful.

Optimize Similar Keywords on Existing Site Pages

Ideally, you want to target keywords that are already a natural fit for any given page. But, when several keyword phrases essentially mean the same thing, there is no clear distinction to be able to say definitively which keywords fit where. For example, "keyword research" is pretty clear while "keyword optimization" can mean the same thing as SEO and all the other phrases.

One easy solution is to find a content page relevant for any group of similar meaning phrases, choose the highest volume phrase and target that. Since each phrase basically means the same thing to the common searcher, changing all instances of various phrases to the single phrase you're targeting can be done without changing the meaning of the page in any way.

The value here is that the core message of the page hasn't been changed or the sales message diminished. It's simply a matter of talking about "online marketing" as opposed to "internet promotion", or "search engine marketing" vs. "website marketing." I should note that you don't always want to change every instance. Some variety is a good thing.

Reduce Site Clutter... Blog Instead

The strategy above works great, but it can become problematic once you run out of pages and still have a number of phrases left to optimize. Most people will just go about creating new pages of sales content to target the remaining phrases. The problem here is you're going outside your core marketing message to do this and creating site/navigational clutter as well.

Usually these new pages offer nothing new that is substantial or relevant that can't be found elsewhere on the site. Your site then becomes over-run with pages of content that were built for the sole purpose of getting keyword rankings. That may help with rankings, but not for converting visitors once they arrive.

This is where blogs can come into play. Putting together keyword focused blog posts can help you optimize for additional keywords, while not worrying about adding additional "optimization" clutter to your main site.

But before you rush out to create some generic content to get your keyword on a page, think it through. Your blog isn't your sales content. So don't go creating another sales page. Think of a way to present new information in a new, unique, and informative way.

Once you have this awesome piece of standalone content written, place it on your blog, but not as just any other blog post. Instead, you can create a standalone "article" that is linked from your blog navigation. This keeps that content timeless and prevents it from getting buried with the rest of the stuff. Be sure to update this information regularly as necessary.

Be Selective When Optimizing Your Phases

Undoubtedly, when performing keyword research, you'll find a number of phrases that are similarly themed. Usually these are phrases using a single core term (say, "internet marketing") that add additional qualifiers (such as "internet marketing services", "internet marketing strategy", "internet marketing consultant", "affiliate internet marketing", and so on.)

One of the worst things you can do is to try and target all of these phrases on a single page. The better strategy is to organize these phrases into supporting themes and then build pages around each theme. Think of it as building in sub-categories for your product and services.

When going this route, adding new pages to the site (rather than the blog) is actually a good idea. You're building strong, relevant content that targets the specific needs of your visitors using language that addresses that.

Building Strong SEO Content

When keywords are applied correctly throughout your site, whether to existing pages, new pages, blog posts, or wherever, content can be written naturally without feeling forced or being noticed by your visitor. The end result will be a robust site, targeting dozens, if not hundreds, of keywords, all effectively optimized to bring in targeted traffic while still increasing sales.

November 9, 2010

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Using a blog as a way to explore ranking for other keywords is a great idea. It lets you keep your sales pages focused and centrally themed while allowing you to rank for a keyword on a blog that could distract a user on a sales page.

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