SEO professionals optimize keywords by embedding them in page tags, URLs, image alt-tags, and may use semantic keywords to clarify intent, and monitor pages to limit keyword cannibalization.
Search engines, site visitors, and site owners gain from keyword optimization: it tells the search engine where and what content is, it guides users and provides clarifying context during a search or visit, and it matches the site with an intended audience for brand owners.
Structural elements like titles, tags, and URLs help everyone understand the overarching meaning and focus of pages and page elements, while providing clues of overall structure. When these are semantically clear, users can quickly determine meaning and make choices. Both keywords and semantic cousins (“lemon” + “used car”) clarify keywords with multiple contextual meanings, whether in visible titles and tags, or in a URL displayed in a browser address bar.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when a site has more than one page optimized for the same keyword, thus competing with itself and reducing each other’s ranking. One can easily check by querying Google: “site: domain.com “keyword”. If two pages appear in near equal position (e.g., 4 and 5), pages are likely competing. Instances of cannibalization often occur through accidental duplication, or on open blogs in which the same terms are discussed on multiple pages.
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