Let's say you are writing a web site to sell beach homes on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
You look for some good keywords and come up with 'Vancouver Island waterfront property'. So you use that term in your title, headline and here and there in the text.
So far, so good. The phrase will help you with your rankings. And the use of the phrase on the first screen of your home page will let your visitors know that they are in the right place.
But for writers who focus too intentionally on keywords and phrases, there is a danger.
A danger in optimizing your pages for good keywords? Yes, I think so.
There is a significant difference between the keywords that pop into visitors' minds, and the hopes and aspirations that they carry in their hearts.
Let's look at the real estate example again.
As a potential buyer I might type the phrase 'Vancouver Island waterfront property' into the Google search box, because that's what I'm looking for. But that term does not reflect what I'm feeling.
Having a home on the coast may have been a lifelong dream. It may be something I feel very strongly about. So when I come to your site, I am looking for two things.
– First, the rational part of my mind is looking for confirmation that your site can help me find what I want. And this is where the use of keywords and phrases makes perfect sense.
– Second, there is a strong, emotional element at play. As a potential buyer, I am looking for someone who can help me fulfill my dream. And this is where a writer who focuses too intentionally on keywords and phrases can end up with poorly performing copy.
By all means, optimize your pages for Google and for the rational part of a searcher's mind. But be sure to understand and address the emotional needs of the visitor as well.
That means using keywords as the starting point. Beyond the keywords, you need to use language that addresses the deeper needs of the reader.
Yes, understand what Google wants. And understand what your visitor is looking for. But if you want results, you also need to understand and address what the visitor is feeling and hoping for.