Q and A: Do people actually search for exact phrases?

QuestionHi Kalena

As I’m rethinking about my page, I’ve become curious about something. Do people actually search for phrases such as “web design Gloucester” or do they for the most part just search for a page with those three words on it? (which if I understand things is what you get when you search without quotes).

Of course if I have the three words as a phrase either search hits it, but I’m having trouble making it as readable as I’d like using the concise phrases and I’m wondering if the sacrifice in readability is worth it?

Lastly, I wanted to be sure that if I have a key phrase such as “web design Gloucester” that the string “web design in Gloucester” matches. I seem to remember that “in” was a stop word ignored by Search Engines.


Hi Steve

I think you’ll find that most people will start a search using generic terms and then add qualifiers to help narrow down the results. So they might start with “web design companies” (no quotes) and then seeing billions of matches, they might try “web design companies Gloucester” or “web design Gloucester” (no quotes). I don’t really know too many searchers who use quotes unless they are advanced users or SEOs. So it really pays to try to get ranked for the non-quotes version of your target keyphrases.

You can achieve this by using the phrase in your text but including stop words so the copy is more readable. You should never have to sacrifice readability! Stop words are words like “the”, “and”, “in” etc that are mostly ignored by the search algorithm. So if your page has the sentence “we are one of the most popular web design companies in Gloucester” then search engines should rank your page high for the query “web design companies Gloucester” as they will ignore the word “in”.

The reverse also applies, where if a search query includes a stop word, engines will show pages that have either the shorter sentence included without the stop word/s or the longer one.

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Q and A: How many anchor text links should I create on a page?

QuestionHey Kalena

Quick question for ya if you got a minute. If I’m targeting a keyword or phrase, lets say dogs. I write a 500 word article about dogs. I post it on my site. I want to target my main url i.e. www.dogs.com. How many times can I create anchor text in that one article that links to the main page?


Hi Chris

It’s really not about counting the number of keywords or links – it’s about what sounds natural to a reader and what makes the most sense in the copy. If you can read page copy aloud and it doesn’t sound stilted or repetitious, you’ve probably got the right balance of keywords. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend aiming for keyword repetition of around 2 to 3 times per page for each keyword/phrase you are targeting. More than that usually ruins the copy and/or triggers red flags in search engine filters.

When using anchor text, a good way to avoid excessive keyword repetition is to try using keyword variations and word stemming e.g. accounts, accountant, accounting etc. Also consider using your keywords in headings, sub-headings and bullet points. These have the added advantage of breaking up the copy and making it easier to read. Oh and if you decide to use “dogs” in your anchor text, for Pete’s sake make sure the page you are linking to talks about dogs! Sounds obvious but it’s amazing how often this is overlooked.

ADDED: Nick from Search Engine Optimization Journal has blogged about this post. He took from my comments above that when I said 2 or 3 instances per page, I was referring to anchor text links. But I was actually referring to keywords per page, not links per page. Nick’s right, too many links pointing to a single page using the same anchor text is dodgy and unnecessary and may trip spam filters. Just wanted to clarify this point to avoid confusion. Thanks Nick!

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Q and A: Does it matter where keywords are placed within the site copy?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I do have a question I would love an answer to. Is keyword/keyphrase placement within copy relevant? Does it matter “where” the keywords are placed within the copy? Does placement affect search engine relevancy?


Dear Di

All other things being equal, the closer to the beginning of your copy you can integrate your keywords the better. Some people insist that scattering keywords throughout works well, but all agree that you need your major keywords in your main heading and first paragraph no matter what. This is because search engines scan the first few paragraphs first when determining relevancy.

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Q and A: As a new content / SEO writer, how should I quote?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I’m after some advice from a professional and I immediately thought of you as I’m one of your SEO students. I’ve set up my new website and I’ve just had my first request for a quote. However, I’m not sure how to quote, what to base that on, or how others are doing that.

Would you be able to let me know how most content/SEO writers quote for doing websites? It’s really for writing new websites, so not simply editing existing ones. I’m not sure whether to base that on the number of pages/words or on a time spent basis, or what. I don’t know what the norm is.

Could you give me any pointers?

Thanks very much!

Dear Micky

There are some very good pointers for this in the bonus lesson that comes at the end of SEO 201 so you might want to download the bonus lesson PDF and look at that.

Basically, it’s always better (in my opinion) to quote an hourly rate and then work out how many hours each page will take you to copywrite. If it’s easier, you can always provide the customer an estimate (e.g. each page should take between 2-3 hours at my standard hourly rate of $150 + taxes) and then invoice the final cost after the job is done.

This will require you to keep timesheets and be accurate with your time measurements. It also gives the client the option of reducing the number of pages to be done if they want to save money instead of expecting you to lower your fees. Something else I offer clients is the ability to save 10% or 20% if they purchase consulting hours in bulk e.g. hourly rate is $150 but drops to $135 per hour for 10 hours or more purchased in a single month or to $120 per hour for 20 hours or more in a single month.

You might also find my past blog posts about Home Based Business helpful, particularly As a freelance SEM, how should I structure my fees?

In that last post I talk about Freshbooks online invoicing software that has built-in timesheets and a start-stop timer so you can monitor time spent on projects and bill clients accurately. Apart from the fact that it’s very low-priced, I simply could not function without this software!

Good luck with the business.

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Search Industry Job of the Week: Copy Writer

Job Title: Copy Writer
Job Reference #: 4927724
Position Type: 6 month contract
Name of employer: The Computer Merchant Ltd
Location: White Plains, NY
Date Posted: 15 November 2007
Position description:

Named by VARBusiness Magazine as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the United States and the 5th largest privately held IT Staffing and Solutions firm, The Computer Merchant (TCM) is a powerful force in the IT Staffing and Solutions Industry. We are looking for the best and brightest to be part of that growing force and continued success.
TCM had an extraordinary year in 2005, placing thousands of Consultants throughout the US. With a projected growth rate of 50%, we are anticipating an exceptional 2006.

Over the past quarter century, TCM has not been a seller of technology, but rather a provider focusing on delivering unprecedented knowledge and expertise to our clients enabling them to develop and maintain their respective technologies. TCM is growing at a rapid rate, and in an effort to meet the ongoing demands of our clients, we are looking for more top-notch Consultants.

TCM’s recruiters have many positions available throughout the US! However, recently we have been contacted by one of our most valued clients to assist with the following:

Project Description:

Our dynamic growing Fortune 500 client seeks a Copywriter in White Plains, NY.

TCML is currently looking for a cutting edge Copywriter with an award-winning
personality to help them get many projects completed. The selected candidate
must be a team player, ready to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes
to get the work done. The ideal candidate will possess excellent organizational
and problem solving skills, while working both independently and as part of a
team. We are looking for self-starters with a creative flair, strong
communication skills, and the ability to prioritize tasks

Primary Responsibilities:

• Copywriting, proofreading and editing
• Offer creative solutions while adhering to deadlines


• Bachelor’s degree in English or related field
• Excellent writing anc communication skills
• Excellent grammar, proofreading and editing skills
• Strong organization
• Writing samples

Skills Required: Copywriting

Skills Desired:

If you are available, interested, and believe you meet all the required skills, please respond immediately. Also, include an updated resume emphasizing your experience with the above mentioned skill requirements. Email resumes to knewell[at]tcml.com with (4927724) as the subject line. If you feel that you are not a fit for this position, we have many openings. We invite you to visit our web site at www.tcml.com to view a full listing.

If you know of someone that may be interested in either this role and/or IT consulting, please forward this ad to them or send us their contact information (name, phone number, e-mail, etc.).

Benefits of Being a TCM Consultant:

Not only is TCM the 5th largest and fastest growing privately held IT Staffing and Solutions firms in the US, but as a TCM Consultant, you will be exposed to a vast amount and wide variety of contract assignments. For those candidates we place on long-term assignments, we are pleased to offer the following extensive benefits package:

• Medical and Dental Insurance
• 401K
• Individual Long Term Disability and Life Insurance
• Dependant Care Flexible Spending Accounts
• Section 529 College Savings Plan
• A Generous Referral Program (available to all Consultants)
• Direct Deposit – Bi-weekly or semi-monthly pay
• No Placement Fee for Consultants

Finding great candidates and exceeding our client’s expectations are our primary objectives. TCM is certain that we can assist you in finding your new contract or full time position in 2006!

Salary range: Unknown
Closing date: Unknown
More info from: http://jobs.50statejobs.com/jobdetails.cfm?jid=18589
Contact: Send resumes to knewell[at]tcml.com with (4927724) as the subject line

For view more search industry job vacancies visit Search Engine College Jobs Board

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