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Keyword Prominence as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Keyword Prominence is an SEO best practice that involves using a page's target keywords early in order to send a strong signal to Google about the page's ranking.

The concept is comparable to the journalism standard of never burying a lede."Buried" means hiding the main focus of the story behind information that is less relevant to the reader.

This is considered a mistake in journalism because it sends a confusing message about what the most important details are in a given story.

Burying lede in a piece of web content, where "lede" is the target keyword, is considered a bad practice in SEO because it sends confusing signals about the content of the page.

This is at least the consensus within the SEO industry.But is this an unproven theory, or has Google confirmed that keyword prominence is a ranking factor?

Below is more information on the claims related to keyword prominence, followed by the evidence to support it.

Disclaimer: Keyword Prominence is a Ranking Factor

Where a keyword appears on a page is said to play a role in search rankings.

SEO professionals recommend using your page's target keywords early in order to benefit from a ranking signal called keyword prominence.

Keyword prominence is positively correlated with higher rankings.The closer a keyword is to the beginning of the title and text, the more prominent it will be.

Using a less prominent keyword is said to reduce the chances of ranking for that keyword.

When you search in Google, the exact keyword you enter will usually show up in the results at the beginning of the page title.

Interestingly, keyword prominence can be shown to be a ranking factor.

Google confirmed it?

Let's look at the supporting evidence.

Keyword Prominence as a Ranking Factor: Evidence

early evidence

Evidence in favor of keyword prominence as a ranking factor dates back to 2011, when it was mentioned in a video with former Googler Matt Cutts.

He discusses how Google leverages keywords when crawling the web, and how the first few uses of a keyword will send Google a signal about the main focus of the page.

However, Cutts warns website owners against overusing keywords because more is not necessarily better.

"Modern search engines, or at least Google, are built in such a way that when you first mention a word -- (Google thinks) "hey, that's interesting, it's about the word.

Next time you mention the word, [Google will think] "Oh, well, it's still about the word.It really doesn't help much once you start referring to it a lot.diminishing returns.It's just an incremental gain, but it's not really that big.

...So the first time or two you mention a word can definitely help your rankings.But just because you can say it seven or eight times, doesn't mean it will necessarily help your rankings.

recent evidence

A lot has changed in SEO since 2011, but Google's guidance for keyword prominence remains the same.

Here's the latest evidence that Google's John Mueller touched on the topic in his weekly Q&A session (mark 2021:6) in 43:

"I suggest that if you want to tell us what your page is about, make it as visible as possible.So don't just put it on a word at the bottom.

But instead, use it in your title, use it in your title, use it in your subtitle, use it in the image's title, all of these things to make it as clear as possible to users and Google Know that when they come to your page, this page is about the subject.

This is the direction I'm going.I wouldn't worry if Google can get to 20 words.Because if you're talking about the word 20 and you say it's the most important keyword for my page, then you've done something wrong.

You really need to make sure that the information that tells us what this page is about is as obvious as possible, so that when the user goes there, they're like "yes, I put it on the right page, and I'm going to read what this page tells me.

Mueller brings up a great point about thinking about keyword prominence from a UX perspective.

Going back to the analogy where we buried the lede, when you use your most important keywords early on, you end up optimizing for both readers and Google.

Additional Considerations for Keyword Prominence

We've talked about how keyword prominence affects SEO, how it affects user experience, and now we'll discuss how it affects CTR.

Mueller strongly recommendsThe most important keywords are displayed in the title, title, subtitle and main copy.

Page titles are not only a factor in SEO, they can also affect the click-through rate of organic search results.This is another reason why keyword position is especially important, as rankings are meaningless without traffic.

In English, we read from left to right, so the page title with the keyword closest to the beginning will catch the searcher's attention because it matches what they typed into the search bar.

The goal of SEO is not just to appear at the top of search results, but to get searchers to click on your page and not others.Strategically placed keywords can help with this.

Now think about what your visitors are going to do when they land on your page.They are likely to scan the content rather than read it word for word.

With this in mind,You want to use keywords early in your article.You want to make sure readers will see it when skimming.

Use keywords in the first paragraph, or even in the first sentence if you can.You want to immediately show your readers that they found the right article to help them with their search query.Otherwise, they will leave.

As you continue to write your content, make sure to use your keywords again in your headlines, and anywhere else your readers might jump to while navigating the page.

Keyword Prominence as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Keyword prominence is a confirmed ranking factor.

Google has emphasized time and time again that from an SEO perspective, using a keyword at the beginning of an article is better than having it appearing first down the page.

If you want to maximize your chances of ranking for a particular keyword, include it in your introductory paragraph.Use keywords early, but not too often or you may run into keyword stuffing problems.

Extended reading:

Is Keyword Density a Google Ranking Factor?

Is the number of images on a page a Google ranking factor?

Are H1 tags a Google ranking factor?

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