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Keywords on pages in bold - beneficial or harmful to SEO?
G_Lee




msg:4550692
 5:46 pm on Mar 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hello:

I am redesigning a webpage in which I have the opportunity to place keywords in bold. Is there any SEO benefit to this? Also, with the Panda and Penguin updates, are there negative consequences to making keywords bold?

I have been unable to find current thinking on this matter.

Thanks.

 

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4552198
 5:09 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

That's an interesting observation, but due to the "rank modification for spam detection" ( [webmasterworld.com...] ) and the "near immediate change in position" after the removal of the <b> elements I find it difficult to draw a conclusion from it, because when you change "factors that impact rankings" your results "go for a random roller-coaster ride" over the next N (randomly generated to the best of my knowledge) period of time.

I would guess adding a new <section> (as would be determined algorithmically by the H3 addition even if not explicitly sectioned in the HTML) would be considered a "ranking impacting factor" so the results you're seeing could easily have been the same if you had left the page completely alone and "let the random ranking roller-coaster run it's course".

Also, from what I've seen lately, even if a page is spidered the day of or the day after a change is made seeing the difference in the SERPs is taking up to a week to "filter through the system" and get into the "regular" SERPs whether the page is updated for a site: search or not. (I've tested this on a large number of pages over the last two months and there's been a definite "lag" between spidering, slightly new version found, site: search update and then the SERPs showing the new version of the page.)

I'd be interested to hear if you're 100% positive the page was respidered without the <b> elements after they were removed and the version without the <b> is 100% for sure the version in the SERPs rather than the original you launched with the <b> elements in place.

Dymero




msg:4552222
 5:48 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

As with any other HTML element that doubles as a ranking factor, I use either a "does this improve the user experience" or "does this make sense to the context" test when deciding whether to apply the tag.

Bold is still a good tag for inline emphasis, especially on lists, in order to make the items stand out from a wall of unstyled text. It also is good when you feel it necessary to emphasize some point within a paragraph.

If it doesn't make sense to use bold, I don't. I once did, however, but then I realized I was overusing it to the point of making some paragraphs difficult to read.

In short, if bolding the keyword fulfills the primary purpose of improving the user experience or making a point, use it. Otherwise, do not use it.

Addition: Wading into the <strong> vs <b> discussion, I still like <strong> as it's more generic and structural tag than <b>, and for years was actually the recommended tag to use, for this reason.

Panthro




msg:4552380
 1:29 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I thought we weren't supposed to use <b> anymore

ZydoSEO




msg:4552389
 2:22 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

@gouri

My guess (hope) is that he means something like:

<p> blah blah <span>bolded text here</span> blah blah </p>

with CSS something like:

p span {
font-weight:bold;
}

Inline HTML styling is the suck. LOL

garyr_h




msg:4552450
 6:23 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

@gouri yes, but I use class instead so I can give it more style.

<span class="bold">Bolded word</span>

I don't recommend doing what @ZydoSEO suggests because if you use any other span, then you have to use classes anyway.

MikeNoLastName




msg:4552470
 8:02 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

"In short, if bolding the keyword fulfills the primary purpose of improving the user experience or making a point, use it. Otherwise, do not use it."

Did you copy G in on this recommendation that should otherwise be obvious? Hope they heard you.

Alas, The internet has so distantly diverged from what it was and should be. Terse FACTS need now be needlessly watered down with useless text, and revolutionary, artistic, creativity, not previously known to G, must be highly tempered in accordance with G's wikipedia-philia in order to ever be seen by anyone.

ZydoSEO




msg:4552734
 10:54 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

@garyr_h I wouldn't do it that way either. It was only a very simple example of how it "could" be done in CSS rather than using inline HTML styling... not a best practice CSS example.

Dymero




msg:4553587
 7:16 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

"Did you copy G in on this recommendation that should otherwise be obvious? Hope they heard you."

In the last couple years, I've really tried to focus on "future-proofing" sites I work on. Trying to make them so that future quality updates won't hit them. Obviously, I can only make an educated guess, and will no doubt run afoul of something (thanks to today's abusers of legitimate tactics), but I think it's worth it in the end.

gouri




msg:4553733
 3:36 am on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

@garyr_h,

Let's say the sentence is the following: It is raining outside.

Would you define span in an external style sheet such as:

span.bold {font-weight:bold;}

and in your html, it would say: <p>It is <span class="bold">raining</span> outside.</p>

instead of not defining bold in the style sheet and just saying: <p>It is <b>raining</b> outside.</p> in your html.

Does using <span class="bold"> after defining it in a style sheet make it easier for the search engines to identify that the word raining is being bolded (being given more emphasis) than using the <b> tag?

garyr_h




msg:4553766
 5:48 am on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

@gouri I'm doing it so the search engines do not identify it as having more emphasis. I am bolding it for my visitors; I just don't want G to penalize me for using it.

There are so many things working in the algorithm now that I don't want to take my chance.

gouri




msg:4553982
 5:28 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

@garyr_h,

So you are using span.bold {font-weight:bold;} in an external style sheet and <span class="bold">in the html in the following way:

<p>It is <span class="bold">raining</span> outside.</p>

because this way it gets the attention of your visitors but doesn't appear to be overdone to the search engines?

garyr_h




msg:4554131
 11:38 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Correct, gouri.

mcskoufis




msg:4554272
 11:54 am on Mar 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am sick and tired of all these SEO expert agencies in Greece who bold out the main keyword in their text... This is SEO Rubbish and is done by the biggest agencies here. They get hundreds of thousands of euros worth of SEO projects and they do childish acts.

I'd bold something if it is in the user's interest, but then again why not use headings to indicate the important sections of the text, instead of just bolding a word or phrase.

Also from Usability point of view I am not sure if bolding a keyword or two in a paragraph makes the user miss the point of the text around them...

[note to the mods]: Hope I am not breaking the rules with my first paragraph...

AngieJohnston




msg:4580850
 2:04 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to give you guys some tips that we use on the copywriting end in case you'll find them helpful.

The bolding thing: Don't. Just don't. People are more web-savvy than ever before, and it looks terrible.

From my understanding, it won't help you; what will help you are subheads in the form of h2 tags, provided they contain informative text. If you were a lawyer creating a page on how "dangerous" it is to eat at a hot dog stand in NYC, then, you'd want to do it like this:

New York's Hidden Perils: Citizens Dish on Dingy Hot Dog Stands

While the smell of roasting hot dogs can be tempting...

Avoiding Health Problems from NYC Hot Dog Stands

Experts recommend avoiding hot dog stands...

I Got Sick from a NYC Hot Dog--What Now?

Since you've already suffered...


Google is looking at the words that relate to your keywords, too--not just your keywords. Keep that density within reasonable levels and your readers, and probably the search engines, will thank you.

gouri




msg:4580860
 2:48 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

@AngieJohnston,

Thanks for the post.

Google is looking at the words that relate to your keywords, too--not just your keywords. Keep that density within reasonable levels and your readers, and probably the search engines, will thank you.

For the words that relate to your keywords, is Google looking at a particular part (e.g., Paragraphs, headings, etc.) of a Web page or the page overall.

AngieJohnston




msg:4580861
 3:06 am on Jun 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, to my understanding it's the entire body of text. They lend more importance to the subheads because users do, too (that's why they need to relate to your page's content really well, and if you're location-based, include that if it won't disrupt the flow of text).

You want the opening paragraph to clearly state what your page is about, which is where your keyword(s) can be used. Remember that Google delivers results that aren't always based on exact phrases, too--so if your keyword was NYC Lawyer Food-borne Illness, you can say "I'm a NYC lawyer who works on food-borne illness cases every day."

After that's done, build your page on giving your readers what no one else is: information. That lawyer will say things like "Spending two years in litigation" and "When you appear in court." Google knows this and it recognizes that you've built an informative page that readers want to see, versus your competition who just has some contact information and a bunch of garbage (like a list of terms at the bottom of the page that says "NYC Lawyer | Lawyer New York | Hire a Lawyer in SoHo" or is engaging in other black-hat type stuff.

I hope that helps! :)

gouri




msg:4581181
 2:47 am on Jun 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@AngieJohnston,

Thank you for your examples of what should be included in the paragraphs. That is good writing.

I think that the h2 tag is an important on-page tag and I had a question.

In the title tag of a page, I have included keyword phrase 1.
In the h1 tag of the page, I have included keyword phrase 2.
In the h2 tag of the page, I have included keyword phrase 3.

Keyword phrase 1, keyword phrase 2, and keyword phrase 3 have some overlap, so there is some similarity among them.

If someone reads the title tag, h1 tag, and h2 tag, I think that they would find them informative, but I am thinking that the overlap among them might be causing over optimization. Phrases that the page can rank for are not ranking as highly as I think that they can.

I was thinking of changing the keyword phrase in the h1 tag to create some variety between the title tag and h1 tag, and between the h1 tag and the h2 tag. Do you think that this would be a good thing to do?

Thanks.

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