This guide explains keyword prominence.
Below, you’ll find out what is keyword prominence and how it applies to search engine optimization (SEO). You’ll also get a list of examples of keyword prominence in SEO so you know how to use this digital marketing practice for your website and discover key insights into how important of a ranking factor it is for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
By the end of this page, you’ll understand everything there is to know about keyword phrases and prominence on a web page.
What Is Keyword Prominence?
Keyword prominence is an SEO practice that uses a target keyword in prominent locations on a web page to send a strong signal to search engines about what keywords the page should rank for in the SERPS.
Examples of Keyword Prominence In SEO
Now that you know what keyword prominence refers to, let’s look at some examples of it in action.
The page title, also known as the meta title, is one of the top locations you can use keyword prominence for SEO because it appears at the top of an HTML document. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing crawl the page title to assess what the content is about. They also display this title for your website’s listing in the search engine results pages for users to click on, which makes it very important for you to place your target keyword in the page title for SEO.
The meta description is also near the top of the HTML document, which is also a prominent location for keywords. And although the meta description is not a direct ranking factor for SEO, having your keyword in this area helps send a signal to Google, Yahoo, and Bing about the correct topic for the page.
When it comes to writing the actual content for the web page, the first paragraph matters a lot for keyword prominence and rankings. This is the first piece of text a user reads, so including your target keywords in the first sentence or two is good for search engine optimization. See this related guide on how to put keywords in an article to use for SEO.
Page headings are also important for establishing the prominence of keyword phrases. As mentioned in the next section of this guide, John Mueller from Google confirmed that you should include your target keywords in the headings and subheadings on the page. The most effective placements are the H1 tag followed by the H2 and H3 tags. See this related guide on SEO H1 best practices.
Having a keyword in the image ALT text field or caption also increases the prominence of the key phrase. By optimizing the images for SEO, you’re giving the search engine crawlers an additional signal to consider when ranking the page in the SERPs for relevant queries.
As you can see, keyword prominence is different from the concepts of keyword density (i.e., keyword frequency) and keyword proximity. Prominence has nothing to do with the density (the percentage of times a keyword phrase is used on a page) or proximity (the distance between two keywords in the phrase).
Is Keyword Prominence a Ranking Factor?
Keyword prominence is a confirmed ranking factor for SEO. The closer a keyword appears toward the beginning of titles, text, and specific HTML elements, the more prominent it is for increasing the SEO relevancy signal of the web page.
In this video by Matt Cutts, former Google Engineer, he explains how modern search engines like Google are built to analyze the keyword prominence on a web page. The first time the crawler detects a word, it thinks “That’s pretty interesting, the content is about that word.” And then the next time it comes across that word, the crawler confirms that the page is still about that word.
Matt explicitly says: “The first one or two times you mention a word, then that might help with your ranking, absolutely.” However, he goes on to say that “just because you can say it seven or eight times that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily help your rankings.” If you continue to repeat a keyword phrase over and over again as a manipulation tactic, then you could have the danger of keyword stuffing which is an SEO practice that goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, also confirmed keyword prominence as a ranking factor for SEO in one of his weekly SEO Office Hour sessions. The following quote starts at the 6:43 mark:
“If there’s something that you want to tell us that your page is about, to make that as visible as possible. So don’t just put that as a one-word mention at the bottom of your article. But rather, use it in your titles, use it in your headings, use it in your subheadings, use it in captions for images, all of these things to make it as clear as possible for users and for Google when they go to your page that this page is about this topic.”
Now that you know what keyword prominence is and how to use it effectively for SEO, you may also want to check out this related guide on how many keywords per page should you focus on for better search engine optimization.
Keyword Prominence Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide about keyword prominence.
As you discovered, keyword prominence is an SEO best practice that places target keywords in prominent locations on a web page to send stronger signals to search engines about what keywords the page should rank for in the SERPS. Keyword Prominence is also a confirmed ranking factor that Google’s algorithm uses for assessing the topics on a page, so it’s an important element to use for on-page search engine optimization.