SEO Keyword Research:

What Search Engines Want

By Sarah Jamieson

SEO Keyword Research: What Search Engines Want. A themed and siloed site gives search engines exactly what they want: relevant, expert-level content that associates related themes just like a search engine’s own rankings algorithms do.

To communicate with search engines, your site needs to present clearly organized topics, structured in a way that helps the engines understand exactly what your site is about.

To make their results more relevant and keep out spam, search engines have evolved sophisticated algorithms. They determine relevance and quality by assessing what a site is writing about and then comparing this with other sites writing about the same topics.

To obtain high rankings, make sure your site doesn't do any "theme bleeding" - linking between unrelated topics, which weakens the themes.

I help my clients choose their themes based on their USP and business goals. Every theme is supported and strengthened with related themes. Our program ensures relevance by assessing theme relationships in the same way the search engines do, as far as that's possible.

Let’s look at this in more detail ...

How Search Engines Score Sites for Relevance

The search engines have a simple way to determine the degree that different topics are related. I'm not saying the process is simple – just the result.

To determine the market’s definition of a keyword, the search engines scan their entire huge database of web pages.

To the search engines, the "meaning" of a word is defined by how web pages use it in relation to other words. The more sites that mention topics together, the more closely the topics are related:

Search Engine Keyword Research

Each website will cover a somewhat different mix of topics according to the focus of the site and its business direction. There will be different degrees of relationship between the topics discussed.

Clearly, within a market, where there are two topics together on the same page, the search engines consider the two topics to be related. The more often that the topics are mentioned together on the same page across a large group of websites, the more closely related the topics are.

For example, let's say in pages that talk about dogs, 10% also mention barking.

The technical term for the degree of relationship between two keywords is co-occurrence.

The search engines will calculate that barking has a 10% co-occurrence with dogs, which means they are closely related topics.

Some keywords are used frequently together on the same page. Some keywords will be used together less often. The search engines scan their databases for web pages that use Keyword 1, and then calculate the percentage that also use Keyword 2 on the same page:

Keyword Theme Research

To search engine optimizers, anything over 1% co-occurrence is considered significant, so dogs and puppies are definitely related topics.

Therefore if you create a site about dogs and devote a category / silo to puppies, you are supporting the theme of dogs by associating it with the related topic puppies.

Of course you have to find a way to tell the search engines what your site is about and how you consider topics to be related. You do this by structuring your site content into silos.

In your site’s structure, your main puppies page should link to topics that are closely related to the puppies theme – maybe pages on house training a puppy, teaching a puppy to sit, puppy food, and so on.

Of course, there are also other topics that have high relevance to dogs – such as dog breeds, dog food, dog training, and so on.

These will all support the dogs theme and help you achieve high rankings across this whole network of topics. The search engines use the degree of relationship to judge the relevance of a site to the topics it covers.

In fact, if you write about dogs but don't use at least some topics the search engines expect to find in a site about dogs, they may consider you less relevant.

If my site covers the two topics dogs and ice cream, they are unrelated by the search engines’ definition. That is, no other sites (or very few) are talking about these topics together.

It’s perfectly okay to cover thematically unrelated topics on your site. The search engines simply reflect the constantly-changing content created in a market.

However, to maintain relevance, you must ensure each theme is 100% clear to the search engines, and supported by a network of related themes.

Unrelated themes should be kept separate, with no links to each other that would result in "theme bleeding" - weakening the themes.

There are two major rules you must observe to be successful. These two rules are the essence of themeing and siloing:

  1. Themeing:
    Each topic must be supported by a network of related themes.

    Write about a network of related topics to give the search engines the natural, subject matter expert content they love.

    The dog section needs to cover related topics, like dog training, dog food, dog breeds, and so on.

The ice cream section needs to cover related topics, like ice cream flavors, gourmet ice cream, home-made ice cream, and so on.

This ensures the themes are well-established so the search engines will consider them relevant.

  1. Siloing:
    Don’t link between unrelated topics.

Linking between unrelated themes, or “theme bleeding,” will confuse the search engines about what your actual topics are about. That is, don’t link dog pages to ice cream pages, and vice versa.

What you do need to do is link between related topics to reinforce and strengthen the themes. Dog topics are linked together and ice cream topics are linked together.

Siloing like this keeps your themes clear to the search engines so they will clearly understand and give you credit for your relevance to your themes.

So, how do you figure out which themes are related? Let’s take a look in the next section ...

SEO Keyword Research > What Search Engines Want > Google's High Rankings Blueprint >


Learn about our internet marketing services and cloud-based internet marketing software with integrated marketing, leads, and sales.

Please leave a comment:

Get China and Hong Kong facts on Wikipedia commented on 19-Sep-2014 08:28 AM5 out of 5 stars
Informative article, exactly what Ineeded.