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If a keyword phrase contains another keyword phrase (eg. "one two three four five" → "one two three"), does improving SERP ranking for the shorter phrase "one two three" (using backlinks) automatically improve SERP ranking for the longer keyword phrase "one two three four five"?

  • With respect, the above statement is untrue. Knowing how search engines work makes the answer clear. It all depends on the phrase. It is impossible to answer without knowing what the phrase is. – closetnoc Dec 23 '14 at 14:36
  • @closetnoc, thank you. Assuming that if we are trying to improve SERP for the keyword phrase "android phone battery exchange and repair", would it help if I get backlinks targetting the keyword phrase "android phone"? – tonytz Dec 23 '14 at 21:47
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Assuming the phrase is: "android phone battery exchange and repair"

You are in luck. Any of these keywords should perform well on their own or in small phrases. As well, the phrase would not be inappropriate for a page title either.

I tend to recommend a slight modification of the headline read order method. It just plain works though you will need to play around with the various elements to fine tune it to your purposes.

First Steps: For each page, and you can use a spread-sheet for reference if it helps, create a list of the top 2-3 most important keywords for the page. In another list, create the next 3-7 (or more if it applies) keywords for the page. That is it. One list with just a few most important keywords and another list with additional important keywords.

This will seem out of order, but it is not.

Title Tag: Each page title tag should contain your 2-3 most important keywords for the page. In your case, it appears that your entire phrase can work just fine. The title tag should be conversational and compelling. Your title tag should not exceed about 50 characters, though the limit is 512 pixels. Your title tag may need to be shorter if you have more wide characters such as W, Q, M, D, etc. Do not make a title tag that is too short. If you create a good title tag that is good in length, Google will use it as the SERP link. This is what you want.

Description Meta-Tag: You will want to create a description meta-tag that is conversational and compelling. You want to shoot for two lines. Three lines is fine too, but one line is likely too short. Your description meta-tag should have your most important keywords along with a few or more additional keywords. If done well, your description meta-tag will be used for your SERP snippet. But this only happens if you can anticipate search terms and use the bulk of them in your description meta-tag. Do not get carried away. Your description meta-tag should never be a copy of your title tag. I also discovered that a blockquote tag can be substituted for a description meta-tag as the SERP snippet. However, do try and make your description meta-tag work first, and if you decide that a blockquote tag is a good idea for your site, try and tune it for additional keywords not covered in the description meta-tag.

H1 Tag: You will want to create a h1 tag that is similar to your title tag but not identical. It should not appear to be a copy or a close copy of the title tag. Think in terms of a headline. What is the headline for the content? The h1 tag should have the same most important keywords you used in your title tag plus a few more. If your title tag is not used for the SERP link, often, the h1 tag will be if done right. Think in these terms. So make the h1 tag conversational and compelling.

Other Header Tags: You will want to create h2, h3, and not likely but possibly, h4 tags and so on. Generally, most pages do not use more than h1 through h3 tags so do not get carried away. Each additional header tag should use your other important keywords plus your most important keywords used differently. In this case, you will be targeting keywords from your additional important keywords list. For example: MyPetCo Nutritional Dog Food (title) and The Best Nutritional Pet Foods For Your Dog (header).

Each paragraph immediately following any header tag should also contain as many of the header tag keywords as is natural to do. Make sure you write naturally.

The h1 tag supports title tag, the description meta-tag supports both the title tag and h1 tag, and each paragraph immediately following supports the header tag.

All links that you create should vary quite a lot. Think conversationally. I create three types of links: page title links, keyword or keyword phrase links, and a headline link based upon the h1 tag. You will want to create links for all three cases. However, when creating keyword or keyword phrase links within content, make sure you vary the keywords you use as much as possible. One, two, three, or five keywords is fine. Just make sure that the links that you create are natural in nature and fit within the content and page and are appropriate for the page that you link from and to. This is important. You will want to make your links seem organic and one way to do this is if the vary. Of course, truly organic links are always the best. These are the links that others make to your site.

This is the general idea behind the headline read order plus I added one of my own secrets. (Ssshhhhh! Don't tell anyone- it is just between you and I.) SEO is really simple, however, you will need to tune things a bit. No one gets it right the first time, but after a short while, you will get a feel for what works best for your site. One trick is to use the Google Webmaster Tools > Fetch as Google Tool to get a feel for how a SERP link and snippet might look. One warning however. What you will see in the tool does not always match what actually happens in the wild. It is close though. It will help you to visualize your SERP link and snippet and make it as compelling as you can which is the point. If the SERP link and snippet is not compelling, no-one will click on it. You will want to play around with this too.

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  • Thank you for the incredibly informative response! What is your opinion on using backlinks vs on-page techniques outlined in your response? Which one is more effective? – tonytz Dec 23 '14 at 23:28
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    @tonytz You need both. Back links do not work if the content is not compelling and cannot make a poor SERP link perform better. The idea is to get the SERP link to perform as well as it can first then any back links will support the SERP links by placing them higher on the page. Back links are often thought of all you need, but that strategy fails. The CTR of the SERP link has to be good and the search term/keyword match has to exist or any number of back links will not make a difference at all. You can have thousands of back links to a poor performing page and it will still perform poorly. – closetnoc Dec 24 '14 at 0:29
  • @closetnoc - Can you please share any one good website where SEO is done in very perfect manner as per your given answer? SO that will help a lot. – Helping Hands Jan 1 '15 at 5:31
  • I do not pay attention to others SEO so no. Sorry. Even my sites suck when it comes to SEO which is not a very good sales pitch I know. I am too busy building data these days. In fact, most sites suck as far as SEO goes. I have used this method and it does work and has for years. Oddly, the headline read order is quite old and remains some of the best advice around. However, one advice we don't really delve on here is compelling content. It all falls apart if the content does not grab your attention and hold it for a while. This is especially true for SERP links. I do follow this when I can. – closetnoc Jan 1 '15 at 5:39
  • @HelpingHands Excellent question!! I have been building data and schemas of massive size for several years now but am re-organizing the schema and data and reading in captured abuse data non-stop for over a year now. I have a new schema that I must put into place this winter and some coding to do to make the system work better for the web. I do know SEO rather well, but I have not paid attention to others sites or my own too much lately. I do try and pay attention to the headline read order when I can but with such an ugly site, I do not see the point yet. ;-) (more above) – closetnoc Jan 1 '15 at 5:45

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