When writing new content for your website, choosing titles that are exact matches to certain keyword or keyphrases was an effective way to also receive a good top position in the results – but now it might actually drag you down into the results.
Google is changing fairly often, and while it is unknown which update exactly hit the head on the nail – Panda? Penguin? – it wasn't long ago that using exact match titles was an effective strategy at outranking poorly optimized low-authority pages. Typically someone skilled in SEO would just choose a keyphrase as the title, only to repeat this somewhere in the content also – this would almost guarantee a top 10 placement.
Of course there would be many factors rubbing against each other, but if the competing sites where low-authority in a given subject, the result would very often be a top position. This just shows that you shouldn't just write an article, and then settle with whatever position google decides is right for this article – we here at Brugbart know that google often is wrong and will place quality content lower than spammy content.
The Continued Problem with SEO
We have been using exact match tactics for some time, but now we know it doesn't always matter if the keyphrase is really mentioned on the page – it can sure help to include it, and thats still important for authority sites like Brugbart – but if you where a personal blogger just mentioning something on your blog a single, or a couple of times, chances are that you just wouldn't be able to compete with larger authority sites, no matter how good your blog post where!
It appears like authority is something a site will gain over time, determined from an analysis of all the ingredients used in your protein shake – hay, we all like protein right? Without it our muscles would surely shrink! – once you have gained authority in your chosen field, it appears that you can do nearly anything with your content, with little or no consequence to your rankings.
Operating an authority site must therefor also out-weight – or remove completely – any negative ranking consequences that would otherwise have been applied to your site. It feels like Google is simply sandboxing low-authority sites, until they are getting more content related to a given subject – backlinks is unlikely to have much to say long-term – but combined with an authority site, backlinks and authority likely work to confirm one another.
The Cocktail Effect
The effect of mixing to many valuable ingredients into your content, may very well end up working against you – no matter how good your content is! There really doesn't seem to be any way to counter this. An authority site will rank almost regardless if the keyphrase or main keywords are mentioned on the page, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't include your keyphrases or keywords; it just means that it will be very hard to predict how well your content will rank once it has been written.
What you however can consider, is to remove very repetitive keyphrases or keywords. If you have a navigation column, don't do like Brugbart did up until now, writing "Tutorial" after every single subject in the navigation. It should be more than enough that the navigation heading says: "Tutorials" – and less annoying for readers.
If you are just starting to write about a new subject, don't over optimize your pages – also keep in mind that you can always go back and write things a little different – use 301 redirects when changing your URLS, don't be afraid to change titles and content of your pages to see what works. SEO is often a process, and you shouldn't give up at outranking competing sites – unless they truly got better content, it should be possible to beat them.
Exact match titles and on-page phrases
Whenever you are writing a new post, you may benefit greatly simply by doing a few Google searches, to figure out what keyphrase'(s) you are targeting.
We nearly always do this when we are about to write a major Tutorial, that was also how we discovered that the top three results didn't always include the targeted phrases on the page itself – this doesn't mean that its bad to include it, we still recommend exact match titles, as well as on-page mentions of keywords and keyphrases – it just means you should be careful about over-optimizing pages, especially if your site is yet to have gained enough authority.
There is really no way to predict how your site will be doing, you will mostly have to go with feel – some will have a good feel about where their content will end up, but its still impossible to predict. Your visitors might also suddenly share and link your content, which could effect your rankings over-night.