Addressing the Search Term
by Scott Buresh

It is fairly common knowledge that the words that appear on web 
pages are one factor in the way that those pages are ranked in 
individual search engines. This means, of course, that a page 
that contains a search term one or more times has a better 
chance of ranking highly than a page that does not include the 
search term. However, while more and more sites begin to include 
search terms in their web page copy in order to rank higher in 
web searches, high search engine rankings are really only a part 
of the equation. Another large part is whether each of your 
pages is directly addressing the searcherís topic of interest 
(deduced from the search term).

The Shoehorn Approach

When a site is already built and established, many search engine 
optimization experts or individuals trying their luck at SEO 
will employ a "shoehorn" approach. This can be less costly and 
usually involves fewer alterations to an existing site than a
comprehensive approach, but has a primary drawback. It is 
perhaps easiest to explain by giving a fictional example. 

Acme Widgets

Drawing from the RoadRunner cartoons, letís talk about a 
fictional company called Acme Widgets. Our company is a widget 
manufacturer, and we currently have a small brochureware site.  

Working in a Keyphrase

One of the keyphrases we want to target is "custom widget 
manufacturing", since we have looked at Wordtracker and 
discovered that a large number of our potential prospects are 
typing this phrase (it's doubtful anyone searches for this
fictitious example, but let's pretend that many do). Since we 
want to make minimal changes to the site, we are taking the
shoehorn approach, which means that we are going to try to work 
this search term into an existing page. We take a look at the 
"About Acme" page of our site (a page that describes our company 
and our philosophy), and realize that we could probably work the 
phrase "custom widget manufacturing" into the copy a few times 
without too many changes. This will help us to achieve better 
rankings for the search term - so everyone is happy, right? 
Well, not exactly. 

Limitation of the Shoehorn Approach

The problem with this scenario is that while we may have added 
some helpful ingredients for our search engine rankings, we
havenít really added much helpful information for our visitors. 
In other words, they may find our "about" page when typing in
the search term "custom widget manufacturing", but the existing 
page copy doesn't really address this phrase specifically - it
just gives them blanket information about our company that 
happens to contain the term. Many searchers (perhaps even most) 
may quickly decide to look elsewhere, because we have not 
adequately addressed the search term.  

The Comprehensive Approach

Although it takes more effort, a comprehensive approach can 
greatly increase your likelihood of keeping the interest of your
visitors and eventually getting them to take the action on your 
site that you desire.

Creating a New Page

Using the same scenario, we look at the Wordtracker numbers for 
the search term "custom widget manufacturing" and realize that 
this term is of interest to many of our potential customers. 
Rather than asking "Where in the world can we fit this search 
term into our existing site?", we ask "Why in the world do we 
not have a page of our site devoted to this popular topic?" We 
then go on to create a new page for our site, built-in to the 
main navigation, which directly addresses the topic of custom 
widget manufacturing - how we design custom widgets, our 
proprietary custom widget manufacturing process, and why we are 
better than everyone else at dealing with custom widgets. Now, 
when a visitor finds our page on a search for the term "custom 
widget manufacturing", they are finding information that is much 
more likely to address their interest, and we have a visitor who 
is much more likely to read what we have to say (and again, 
hopefully take the action that we desire).  

Repeating the Process

Continuing our comprehensive approach, we may find many other 
popular and specific search terms that command pages of their 
own (i.e. "plastic widgets" or "rotating widgets", where we talk 
about our approach to each of these specialized items). The main 
idea is that we use software such as Wordtracker to identify the 
interests of our potential prospects, and then we devote pages 
of our site (always built-in to the navigation) to telling our 
prospects about our experience and expertise in the topics that 
interest them.  


A comprehensive approach is not necessarily visibly better than 
a shoehorn approach in terms of sheer search engine positions 
- the two approaches may yield similar ranking results. However, 
a comprehensive approach will almost always yield better results 
when it comes to the time each search engine visitor spends on 
your site, and, more importantly, the overall sales that 
originate from the site. And bottom line revenue, rather than 
high positions alone, is what search engine marketing is really 
all about. 

Scott Buresh is Co-founder and Principal of Medium Blue Internet
Marketing ( For monthly tips on how 
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