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SEO: Finding and using related keywords

March 25th, 2009 by mdmcginnis

When you search Google, you might have noticed keywords in the results that you didn’t actually search for. Or maybe you haven’t. Google sometimes includes keywords that are so closely related to what you typed, you may not even realize that you didn’t type them.

Google uses these related keywords to improve your search results, but they also influence search engine rankings. Their engineers figure that any page that uses the word “college” but not “school” or “graduate” or “campus” is probably not a very important source of collegiate information. A page that uses all these related terms is more promising. A knowledgeable higher education writer would naturally use them, while a boiler-room spammer might not.

How did I know which keywords Google considers to be similar? Here’s the trick I used to search for related search terms on Google:

~college -college"

The tilde symbol is a “like” operator. It means, “Include keywords that are similar to this one.” The minus sign is a “not” operator. It means, “Don’t include this keyword.” Nobody but a search engine optimizer would search like this. But it does give you some related keywords, usually highlighted in the page title.

To get a better handle on these keywords, repeat the search and eliminate another keyword. For example, searching Google for “~college -college” gets results for “graduate school” and “NCAA”. If you search for “~college -college -NCAA -graduate”, you now see results for “campus” and “school”. Repeat until you get a message that “your search did not match any documents.”

You don’t need to do these searches very often. No use cluttering Google’s statistics. But the process might help to solidify the search engine optimization strategy for your website.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 Search
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2 Comments to SEO: Finding and using related keywords

  1. Great SEO tip!, I think its more useful than keyword density, because it helps to create a better keyword research and topic relevancy, which is part of the basement for every new page

  2. SEO Vic on March 26th, 2009
  3. Nice post, have you use any latent semantic indexing tools to address this issue?

  4. atlanticOptimize on August 2nd, 2009

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