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In Brett's now famous and great posting, "Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone", he writes:
F) Density, position, yada...
Simple old fashioned seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se's are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can't spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).
However looking at more recent threads, it seems that people are saying this is no longer the case. Should I be concerned about getting the keyword up there x many times, or just go for plain usability? Also do things like bold and italic text mean anything anymore?
I would say put each phrase once in the title, once in the description tag, once in the heading of the page and 2-3 times in the body text of the page. I have never worried about the keyword density. It is far more important that the page reads well to human visitors.
Should I be concerned about getting the keyword up there x many times, or just go for plain usability?
Mildly. If I'm writing about Widgets and I only use the word "Widgets" once and thereafter refer to them as "they", that makes it hard for both robots and skimming humans to easily ascertain what that page is about.
But when it comes to ranking, your time would much better spent thinking about how many pages you can create that are tightly semantically related (in Google's opinion) to your keyword. Making such pages and then linking them so they cast their votes for the "main" keyword page is a much more fruitful SEO endeavor than searching for a mythical optimal keyword density.
Dont write about cars if your niche is widgets.. and if you don't use the word cosmetics they never find you.
widgets, widgets, widgets is spam but..
"You can now use anti-animal widgets from the biggest widgets producer of the world. Widgetsare colors to put on your face. Don't use widgets if you are under 18 blabla.."
The theorie: dont optimize for SE's.. just optimize to keep w3schools teachers happy. If SE's dont rank you high, it not your problem.....
The SE's are just no good.
[edited by: mona at 4:52 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2006]
[edit reason] no specific KWs, please - thx! [/edit]