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Bolding Keywords - effect in SERP

     
2:01 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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What is the affect of bolding keywords a couple of times on the pages of your site? Does it help it rank higher?
3:27 am on Sept 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Several patents mention it as a small factor. It's one of many, many signals that Google uses to decide what words your page is relevant for. Other similar small signals are also mentioned:

"[0042] ...grammatical or format markers, for example by being in boldface, or underline, or as anchor text in a hyperlink, or in quotation marks."

"[0133] ...whether the occurrence is a title, bold, a heading, in a URL, in the body, in a sidebar, in a footer, in an advertisement, capitalized, or in some other type of HTML markup." Note that measurements are suggested here for position on the page.

But don't start thinking of the algorithm as a score card of some kind - that the more boxes you get checked off, the higher goes your score. That kind of linear approach was something like the way things worked in the "old school" search algorithms of the '90s.

Today, if you take that approach, you're very likely to smack into Google's over-optimization penalty, which we originally called the -950 penalty. In fact, the quotes I included above are from Google's 2006 patent Detecting spam documents in a phrase based information retrieval system [webmasterworld.com].

4:40 am on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Uh, oh. I have some content where I was obviously stretching to work in keywords. They are grammatically correct, but a little clunky. Could this be seen as over-optimizing?
5:15 am on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Not likely, unless...

1) You changed existing content several times in close succession, just to suqeeze in more keywords
2) You added the new keywords as anchor text - or h1, h2, title elements, some area that has a higher relevance factor.

2:51 pm on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Ted,

Thank you for providing detais on optimizing. It is really good to know.