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I've also seen the theme thread referenced in several places on this board, but I'll be darned if I havn't read every post, and I still can't find any real useful information.
Your definitely on the right track, if possible, try to use the selected keywords at least once in the body text of every page. Using the same title/metatags on every page isn't necessary, but it would be a good idea to use your keywords in them. Varying keyword densities on different pages is a good idea, because each page is still given it's own "theme" score. This is based partly on keyword density and partly on how many other pages on the site contain the keyword.
The biggest difficulty for me is balancing between:
1) Focusing on one search term for an optimized page. This definetly works and going for more terms results in dilution
2) Designing a theme site where you wack in your selected 8 - 10 terms on all the pages in the hot areas.
But the two conflict. So do you use the two strategies independantly or do you try and compromise between the two?
NFFC, same titles throughout the site has buried me as well.
Think the idea is to find the comprimise. It's going to take some research and expirimentation, but it's there. The worst part about AV is the influence age has on listings .. That is the pits..
As far as themeing goes, I try to optimize each page for one term or phrase and one term or phrase only. The key (IMO) is to have a site with a ton of pages, this way you can hit on many different keyword frequencies and alternate keyphrases that are searched on.