While keywords, as part of your article are indeed important to the SEO "thing," and, as part of your article, they should be spelled properly and in the correct grammatical format, the tags you add outside the article are also valuable.
I am beginning to suspect, however, that when compiling tags, grammar and structure are less important, and it may, in fact, be beneficial to put some awkward and incorrect phrasing, because there are SO many, many people out there who just don't seem to have paid attention in school, can't spell worth hang, and use improper grammar. And I'm not necessarily talking only about non-native speakers..this applies equally to natives and sadly, recent graduates as well.
For example, I've just completed a hub about a very simple piecrust dough, and while "easy to make pie crust" is a tag, I've considered also adding the less grammatical, "how make pie easy," just so such folks can find the article.
What say you all?
Have you learned how to use the Google keyword tool? You can look up awkward phrases like that and find out whether anyone is looking for them or not.
Uh oh. Longwinded Greekgeek post time. Apologies.
The rise and fall of exact search phrase matching in SEO
Years ago, matching search phrases to what people typed was a clever way of catching "long tail" traffic.
However, search engines -- especially Google -- have learned to interpret what people are really looking for, not what they literally type, based on over a decade of search data. Even a day's worth of searching represents millions of queries.
Google does this in two ways. First, it's very familiar with typos. Try searching with one, and you'll see that Google gives you the correctly-spelled version. You have to do a second search if you really, truly want to look for the typo. That implies Google treats the typo and correctly-spelled version as the same search.
Second, Google keeps track of what pages people actually click on, and stay on, after searching for a particular phrase. The algorithm is then refined based on this behavior. If people consistently click on a page on women in combat after looking up "wombats" (sorry, bad example, having trouble thinking of a real-world one right now), then Google will figure out that "wombats" has become slang for women in combat, and adjust search results -- maybe only in America, not Australia -- accordingly. In other words, you can rank for a search even if you don't use exactly the same phrase as the person searching, as long as Google thinks your page is relevant to the topic. This tends to diminish the power of matching people's search queries precisely.
A third source of information is pages themselves. Google understands related phrases by analyzing what phrases tend to show up on a page. If you use a few related terms, it can actually reinforce your search relevance for all of them, allowing you to pick up traffic on several phrases instead of just one overarching keyword phrase.
For example, when I wanted to write on a particular kitchen utensil, I didn't just use one name for it. I used "oven rack hook" and "oven rack puller" and "kitchen utensil" and even "oven rack push puller" (I found a product with that in the name on Amazon) so that I would cover the constellation of related terms that different people use for that one thing. I don't force it -- like a poet, I just keep the "synonyms cluster" in mind when writing, and if one fits naturally, I may use an alternate to the main keyword.
As search engines have gotten more and more sophisticated with understanding related terms, misspelled terms, and the ungrammatical ways people search for things, exact phrase matching has become less powerful. At the same time, it means it's easier to get traffic on lots of "long tail" -- longer, unique and different search phrases -- rather than one big fat keyword phrase.
I'm not saying that exact search phrase matching is entirely dead. But it's just one of more than 200+ factors Google looks for, and it's become heavily obscured by the weight Google gives to alternate spellings, phrasings, and synonyms.
Tags, however, are a whole different topic. And there's something I've noticed that even Hubpages itself seems a little confused about.
Hupbages tags are NOT the "keywords" search engines pay attention to.
Tags are in-site labeling systems. Ten years ago, search engines paid some attention to the tags people used. But then everyone started keyword stuffing tags and trying to force search engines to believe, "My page is relevant for 'space chickens with pastrami,' even though that phrase only appears in my tags and nowhere else on the page." After a while, search engines wised up to that game. "I'll make my own determination about what your page is about," sez Google, "And I don't see you talking about space chickens and pastrami anywhere in your article. Stop pulling my leg." Yahoo was the last holdout, but by the time it became Bing, it no longer was giving any extra weight to words in tags, as opposed to words anywhere else on the page.
Try taking the URL of one of your lenses and looking for Google's cache of it, like this:
This shows you exactly what Google has indexed of your page. Notice the sidebar. NO TAGS. Google doesn't even know about them!
Now go up to the menu bar and pick "View Source." Search the page for keywords. Again, they AREN'T THERE. Hubpages doesn't even have a META keywords tag, an invisible bit of source code spelling out the tags for the page. So phrases in your Hubpages tags are MEANINGLESS for SEO. All they do is determine what related Hubs appear in the sidebar. And again, that's only for users -- Google doesn't see those related hubs.
Hubpages tags help users find good, related content. In which case, the best tagging strategy is to find tags used by other, good hubs in your field, or even tags you tend to use, if you write a lot in a niche.
So, wait, what about search phrases, the keywords that search engines look for?
Google isn't looking at your tags. Instead, to determine what search phrases / keywords your page is relevant for, it examines:
-- Page title
-- Page URL
-- Link text (clickable text)
-- Capsule headers
-- Image filenames
-- Image alternate names/captions
-- The words and phrases in your body text, including both repeated phrases (no need to repeat too often) and clusters of synonyms and related phrases
-- What types of content you LINK TO, and how relevant those pages are for your topic (outlinks)
-- What types of pages LINK TO YOU, and how relevant those pages are for your topic (backlinks)
-- Navigation hierarchies such as the Hubpages Topics Tree / Categories -- if they're related to your topic, that's a good thing
So, for SEO, the most important thing you can do is be specific in the body of your Hub. You have to use related language in headers, and wean yourself off of using cute puns, clever punch lines and vague phrases. Be specific. Say what you're talking about. That will help Google. And it might help your readers, too.
WOW--thank you so much, Greekgeek! That was a very thorough explanation of the differences and situation I referenced.
I won't, then, bother with changing tags, and I think I have all my keywords in place just fine...
Rather than use bad grammar or spelling - wouldn't it be the same thing, but better, to just use some non conventional phrasing or a thesaurus?
well, using "non conventional" terms will get you nowhere.
Search terms are about convenience, not grammar or education levels, thats mostly irrelevant.
Smart searchers use concise language .. dont they?
How would you search for a pizza place in your hometown?
"What is the phone number of a pizza place in Beverly Hills, California?"
You even should keep in mind that often someone doesnt know what they are searching for! .. hence the need for a search!
which is partly why GG's post is so well said .. If I knew I wanted to buy an "oven claw" , I would probably go to a commercial source to search .. but if I needed to find out what that "oven rack puller" thingie my friend was tellin me about was .. well then,
You hit the nail on the head. It's up to us to use "bad" forms of writing to draw attention. Wish it were different, but it's not.
It's an interesting thought.
If Google is marking content on any form of English measurement though bad grammar, misspellings may harm your cause.
Although tempting to mimic the search terms I would stay clear of them.
Write properly and Google will do the searching.
That's my theory.
I always wondered just how useful the tags were with page rank and seo. You do make an interesting point and I will try your technique on my next hub
Thanks for starting this thread. Since I am new to the site, I am just learning about SEO and keywords. I would imagine that some of the more grammatically incorrect phrases are often the phrases people search for on Google. I always try to think of the general population will search and find myself entering some random tags to my post.
You are so right DzyMSLizzy! I did find an article somewhere on the web that stated just what you are saying. People are not careful when searching, sometimes typos go through as well.
Excellent.To the point and very vey educative post .You could have made a hub out of this .
A big thank you to you - Greekgeek for taking the time to write such an informative response. Posts like yours help me to check that I have understood the previous things I have read about how SEO works and give me something to refer back to when I need to clarify something.
Greekgeek's post is solid. It should be the close of the thread
As far as Hubpages tags go, changes in site structure here may have ended ANY off page/seo value and are likley nothing more than navigation tools. I dont have my IM tools on hand and dont feel like looking at the source code, but I vaguely remember seeing that all tag pages/tag links were now nofollow. I could have imagined that though
sunforged -- tags aren't even nofollowed; they just don't exist from a search engine standpoint. When I checked Google's cache of a Hub, I found that the sidebar is almost completely empty: no tags, no "related lenses" shown. That must mean that both of those slots are filled in by some kind of script only when a human visitor views a page in a web browser, making them useless for SEO purposes. (But not useless to your visitors!)
While dinking around on Google, I also found that:
-- Hubpages Tags pages aren't indexed (logical; if tags are invisible, then there's no links to tag pages)
-- Hubpages Category pages ARE indexed (which means if your hub is featured on a subtopic page in the topics tree, it gets a modest SEO boost)
DzyMsLizzy -- I'm glad you and everybody can follow my babbling. I was a classics major in a previous life. It means (a) I'm incredibly fascinated by words, structure, and how they're used and (b) I can't sign my name in less than 3 pages.
If "related hubs" aren't being found, then where in the world can we be getting the hundreds of hubpages links that are now being considered external? My modest 100 hubs show 28,000 links from HP that are not coming from my subdomain, and I have assumed it was primarily that "related hubs" section on every hub.
The tag pages used to be indexed and many had fairly high PR (3/4). A lot of us used to use this to our benefit. Now I see they have a no index, follow tag in the header. So the tag pages will still help google determine what a page is about and what phrases to rank it for. That's my understanding at least.
OK I have a basic understanding of SEO, but one thing about tags that stumps me is that when I have changed tags or added new tags to an existing hub and found that hubs views have increased for a time.
These views that have increased have come from outside HubPages and always from a search in Google. I am stumped as I cannot track down and find the how of why this is happening.
Insert colorful expletive here!
wilderness: I'm so sorry. I did the "cache" test on two different hubs, and saw NO "related hubs" in the sidebar in Google's cache.
But you know what? I just did it again, and there they are -- related hubs! The tags are still invisible, but I do see "related hubs."
Let me wipe off the egg off my face and ask you to double-check me by looking at the Google cache of a few of your own Hubs, since I apparently have no brain.
And also check me on this. I am guessing the "Related Hubs" box is populated by hubs sharing your tags, in which case tags shared by other relevant hubs are better than tags which no other Hub uses. But I do not know if that's how the Related Hubs box works.
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