... but lately I've seen results that make me suspect just one repetition is a good thing, especially with phrases.
I can see some results that perhaps might suggest that, generally in some extremely competitive areas where 800-lb gorillas battle 900-lb gorillas.
It's hard to generalize from these, though, and say that the repetition is causing the rankings. It may well be that the repetitions are simply an indication that the SEOs in those areas are trying extremely hard, perhaps throwing everything at their pages at once.
In such areas of serps, for keyword widgets
, I'm seeing results on the first page which, in their titles...
- repeat the phrase keyword widgets
...but also seeing results with titles that...
- repeat this vocabulary, but in a different order
- don't repeat this vocabulary
- contain only one word of the vocabulary
- contain one word and a stem of this vocabulary
Similarly, treatment of the onpage text (on the ranking pages) ranges from onpage phrases that are well targeted... to the other extreme of no text at all.
I'm seeing this basically on pages with strong brands and obviously strong inbound linking, which can often ameliorate other problems.
Clearly, inbound links play a large factor in the serps I've checked. What's particularly hard to tell without some deep checking is whether, on pages with lesser inbound linking, excessive repetition in titles would hurt, or whether it's simply discounted... and whether that discounting then represents lost opportunity costs (ie, you might have had other target terms in the title that could have helped more with long tail).
I have, on sites I've worked on, removed repetition in titles where I thought it would help... and (in conjunction with other seo measures) removing that repetition has helped. But there have also been pages I've encountered that were generally doing OK, albeit with repetition I didn't like, and I've left that repetition alone.