Writing a blog post or a web content is an art of using keywords to help Google understand what your page is about.
The Keyword Proximity is a great and rarely talked about strategy of optimizing a page for multiword target keyword.
Because unlike single keyword, optimizing a page for a longtail keyword is different because it needs optimization of the whole keyphrase in a strategic manner.
A longtail keyword may have lower KEYWORD DIFFICULTY score but if you are not aware of the term “Keyword Proximity”, you may not be able to get good rankings.
Yes, you heard right and it could be possible even with zero difficulty keywords.
Okay, enough introduction…
Now, let’s dive in.
What is Keyword Proximity?
Keyword Proximity means the number of words between two keywords of a keyphrase. It basically means how far two specific indexable keywords are from each other of a longtail keyword (maybe sometimes a multiword head keyword) in a sentence.
It means the keyword proximity (distance) is calculated by counting the number of words between the keywords of the phrase.
In the following example sentence, the keyword proximity is two words, the fragments of the phrase are 2 words apart.
The open back design in headphones creates more fuller and lively soundstage to make you feel as if the artist is performing live in front of you.Target Keyword is “Open Back Headphones”. The words “design“, and “in” are setting them two words apart.
This metric of measurement is used by Google to identify the topic and relevancy of a webpage.
The closer the fragments of the keyphrase are from each other, the more relevant it becomes for that specific group of words (keyphrase or longtail keyword).
Your job is:
To help Google identify the target phrase you are optimizing your page for.
The question is:
How close or far should you put the words of a keyphrase?
Well, there are three types of keyword proximity…
And they can be classified as the following:
- Close Proximity
- Medium Proximity
- Far Proximity
#1: Close Proximity
Suppose, your target keyword is “Homemade Dog Perfume” and in close proximity, it’ll be like:
A homemade dog perfume will help your dog to get rid of stinky smells.There’s no gap between the keyphrase, hence zero distance or close proximity.
#2: Medium Proximity
In a medium distance or proximity it’ll be like the following:
If your dog gets stinky you can make homemade perfume to get rid of the smell.There’s a 5 words gap between the keywords.
#3: Far Proximity
In a far proximity a typical setence could look like the following:
Your dog gets stinky at times and you can easily remove the filthy smell with the help of homemade perfume.There’s a distance of 14 words between the fragments of the keyphrase.
As you saw in these example sentences, what differentiate between them is the distance between the words of the keyphrase.
Now let me explain the proximity factors of each of the sentences:
In the FIRST SENTENCE:
There is close keyword proximity and the focus keyword or the topic of the page gets cleared out immediately.
In the SECOND SENTENCE:
There is medium keyword proximity. The distance between the keywords of the phrase is 5 words. Though the topic is not being cleared out as immediately as in the first example, it’s still relevant.
In the THIRD SENTENCE:
There is far keyword proximity. The distance or proximity between the keywords of the target phrase is 14 words.
It went somewhat irrelevant because the remaining part “homemade perfume” is far away from the word “dog” and could be confusing to search engines to determine whether you are talking about apparel perfume or perfumes made at home for dogs and pets.
Now, you are probably realizing that it’s necessary to put the words in close proximity.
Well it’s necessary but not always. I mean not each and every time and not each and every senetences as well.
Here are some best practices…
How to Use Keyword Proximity [Best Practices]
As I mentioned already the close proximity of keywords helps search engines understand the core topic of the content.
And with that it also helps you earn higher rankings.
The following are the key locations to put the keywords in close proximity.
- Page Title: If the key phrase is “Homemade Hair Perfume”, make the title something like, “DIY Homemade Hair Perfume: Create Your Own Fragrance”. Maintain the close proximity every time until it’s impossible.
- Header Tags: This especially applies to the H1 tag. For the other header tags i.e. H2, H3, etc.; put the keywords in close proximity if it makes sense or is really needed.
- Meta Description: In the page description, maintaining close proximity is a must. You should use the phrase as early as possible. For the keyphrase “Homemade Hair Perfume” you can write a description like, “A homemade hair perfume needs a few ingredients to make. Follow this guide to create your own sweet fragrance”.
- Introduction: It’s a good practice to put the keywords in close proximity in your blog post’s introduction or at least within the first few sentences. If close proximity is not possible then maintain at least medium proximity.
If you close proximate the keywords in these locations, you’ll get higher rankings and click-throughs in the SERPs.
SIDE NOTE: Keyword Prominence doesn’t apply with single keywords (which the title of this article implies) as there’s no question of maintaining proximity or distance between two or multiple keywords.
But this is not the end of the game.
Keyword Proximity gets the highest marks when it also carries a sweet combination of, Keyword Frequency, Keyword Density, and Keyword Prominence.
Holistic Keyword Proximity: Frequency, Density, and Prominence [The Secret Sauce]
Not only proximity but also frequency, density, and prominence plays a huge role in terms of optimizing a page for a target keyword.
The reason is:
The optimum usage of Keyword Proximity alone won’t make a difference.
When all of the four things dance together, you get the best out of it.
Here are the quick definiton of these three signficant factors of keyword usage.
Keyword Frequency: Keyword Frequency is how often your target keyword is appearing within the body of the text.
Keyword Density: This is quite common and I know you already know about it but if you haven’t heard about it before, it signifies how many times your target keyword is appearing within the body of the text.
This is calculated by the number of times your target keyword or key phrase appears on your page (keyword frequency) divided by the total number of words on the page and then multiply the value of it by a hundred.
Suppose you wrote a 1000 word post and your target keyword is appearing 20 times, then the keyword density will be:
Keyword Frequency (20)/Total Number of Words (1000) x 100 = 2
Hence, the keyword density is 2%.
If you are using plugins like YOAST SEO, the density of the keywords can easily be found in the meta box below the content editor (WYSIWYG editor).
SIDE NOTE: Keyword Density is not a thing to be too much concerned about. However, this can be helpful if you’ve just started out and with time it’ll be natural to you and you can ignore this with time (which means the recommended range will occur naturally). You can read this section about the appropriate usage of Keyword Density.
Keyword Prominence: Keyword Prominence is whether your keyword is appearing in the important parts of the article as well as whether it is standing out from the rest of the text when it becomes contextually much more important.
Some important places to put your keyword for prominence:
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- H1 Tag and other header tags if applicable.
- Introduction or in the first few sentences.
- Bolding the target keyword
- Italicizing the target keyword
- Underlining the target keyword
- Giving a different color to the target keyword
That’s how Keyword Proximity actually works in a collective level!
Just do make sure you are using all of these four factors of keyword usage in an optimum level for a good on-page optimization of the concerned page.
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- Put the words of the target key phrase in close distance. This especially applies to prominent places like, SEO title, H1 tag, description, etc.
- Don’t use your keywords too frequently. Be natural.
- Maintain the keyword density within 2-3%. When you follow the first rule, this thing naturally happens.
- Put the keywords in prominent places. Especially in header tags, page title, meta description, and introduction.