SEO Tactics: Keyword Diversification = Happiness

Ian Lurie

Brian over at Copyblogger has pointed out that depending on Google for your business model isn’t such a hot idea. And there’s a lot of hand-wringing right now about Google’s recent pagerank update.

But Google generates 75% of your traffic, right? So you can’t exactly pooh-pooh them.

As a compromise: Don’t depend on a few keywords. Diversify. Make sure that your site is positioned to rank well for lots and lots of keywords. Here’s how:

  1. Don’t game the system: Stuffing your title tags with a single keyword at the expense of all others is a bad idea. You might get the top spot for that one keyword, for a while, but what happens when (not if!) you lose that spot?
  2. Remember, search engines think structurally. Make sure your site’s structure makes sense, and that each page uses good, semantic markup. That’ll insure that search engines can easily, correctly classify your content, and insure that you get the most stable rankings possible.
  3. Write good copy. Seriously. Hire a good writer. Quality copy that makes sense to people will also make sense to search engines. I’ve seen this time and again. Crappy, keyword-stuffed copy gets you a temporary shot in the arm, but in the long run you’ll drop out of the rankings.
  4. Have an SEO review the copy. After the great copywriter delivers, have a search specialist who can write review it. They can make little tweaks, like changing ‘wedding invites’ to ‘wedding invitations’, and get you a boost for those semantically identical but higher-traffic phrases.

Does diversification work? Yes.

Last year at this time, one of our clients was receiving traffic from 4800 different phrases. We helped them clean up their site, make their title tags more relevant to each page, and revised their copy to be less keyword-stuffed. This October, they’re receiving traffic from 11,000 different phrases, and their revenue is up 57%.

Another of our clients lost ranking for the best phrase in their industry. It makes us grind our teeth, but while we’re working on boosting them again, the hundreds of other phrases for which they have top rankings are keeping revenue within 90% of last year’s. And since last year was a record year (by a long shot), they can do just fine. No one’s happy, trust me. But it’s not the end of the world, either.

Diversify. It works.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Hey Ian – Overall I like the layout…it’s much easier to follow your topics. I will say that the cartoon of you, as well designed as it is, takes a bit away from the professional nature of your services.

  2. I’m willing to bet they made loads more money than they ever would have if the site hadn’t experienced problems.
    This is an excellent example of a company being willing and able to admit something went wrong, and I’m sure they were rewarded for it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Before I offer my critiques on the site I’ll start with I bought and loved your book. It was short, sweet and to the point. Great read!
    I do like the new layout of the site. It’s nice and clean. Here are a few things that make me think though:
    • The rounded corners are nice but they just don’t feel consistent across the different elements on the site (different edge radius?).
    • The reds (with the exception of the text headers and links) feel too bright . . . they make my eyes strain a bit when I’m on the page. I get the same vibe on the home page in the green “Posted in SEO” and orange “Featured Articles” sections. There doesn’t seem to be enough contrast on with the white text on the colored background which makes it a little hard to read.
    • The gray boxes “Topics” and “Blogroll” have red bullet points for me that don’t show up well. I’m using FF on OSX. Not sure if that’s just a mistake. They just don’t show up well.
    Other than that I think it’s a great site . . . love the content.
    Kind regards,

  4. I teach a SEO Basics Seminar and plan on providing a link to this article in my presentation. It so much better when I can have a back up for what I am teaching.

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