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If there are several pages on a domain, and they are optimized for different keywords, will google award less importance to each of them than if there was only one prevailing keyword on the whole domain?

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No. Where did you hear that?

If you check wikipedia, or any other site with a lot of pages about specific keywords, you will find that all of those pages rank pretty well. In fact, if you search google a lot, wikipedia and similar sites will probably pop up in your results.

I don't think that would happen if pages got ranked less for having multiple keywords.

Also, why would Google do that? They would be essentially forcing webmasters to create a different site for every keyword. That would be awful to encyclopedias and other good sources with lots of pages that Google wants to get in their search results.

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I meant about central keywords. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. If it was also a marketplace (for example), I would of guessed it would of ranked slightly less because of having multiple central keywords. All the better if I'm wrong, however. – Glycan May 22 '12 at 23:35
@Glycan I don't think google distinguishes between central keywords or any other keyword. How would they tell what your main keyword is, and if you have multiple ones? – Hamlet May 22 '12 at 23:46

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