No matter how much time and effort you put into optimizing your web pages for the search engines, there’s always one variable that cannot be controlled the searchers. People search in different ways on the Internet, and sometimes not all that effectively. While you can’t teach the world to search more effectively, there are things that you can do on your website, particularly in your content, to compensate.
In a 2004 study, it was found that Internet users are somewhat incompetent in terms of searching online for information. The study found that 60% of users used a one-word search while only 20% used a two-word search. Further, only 3% of users utilized quotation marks for better search results and only 1% used any advanced search options at all. As such, many Internet users are faced with huge query results containing millions of results. If you want to have a chance of being seen among all those millions of results, you must understand how searchers search online and apply it to your website.
Adding quotation marks around the keyword phrase can greatly narrow a search. Consider the following example:
|Search Term||Google Search Results|
|plastic surgery complications||1,840,000|
|plastic surgery complications||714|
|complications of plastic surgery||1,840,000|
|complications of plastic surgery||579|
|breast enlargement risks||1,540,000|
|“breast enlargement risks”||649|
It’s interesting to note that the terms plastic surgery complications and complications of plastic surgery have the same number of search results, 1,840,000. The reason for this is that the search engines typically filter out common words, in this case of’, so that the search basically find instances where the terms complications and plastic surgery are found. As you can see, by adding quotation marks, the results are greatly narrowed. In the instance of plastic surgery complications, the search engine is searching for instances where all three words appear in that exact order. Quotation marks are a very powerful search tool, but unfortunately only 3% of users actually use them.
Fortunately you can create content on your pages that does the work the searchers themselves aren’t doing. When a searcher enters the phrase plastic surgery complications without quotation marks, the search engines look at how closely the search words appear on a web page. Pages containing the exact phrase plastic surgery complications will rank somewhat higher in keyword relevancy than pages containing all three words but in a slightly different order and with other words in between, such as information about plastic surgery and the complications that can occur and plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery: potential complications. Though the latter two examples may mean the exact same thing as the first example, they will nevertheless rank slight lower. As such, while you’re considering keyword density in your content, you must also consider keyword proximity. Where your keywords are located in relation to other words can matter too.
Not only do searchers not search well, they also tend to be an impatient lot. Studies show that most searchers never look beyond the first page of search results. As such, your rank in the search engines matters a great deal. If you’re beyond that first page, many visitors simply won’t know that you exist.