Keyword association manipulation (KAM) - an experiemental SEO technique
Keyword Association Manipulation (KAM) is an advanced, experimental SEO technique used to solve the problem of multiple keyword focus. The idea came from an observation in my blog about how a site optimised for Lincolnshire SEO came top of google for Cleethorpes SEO. The besic premise is this:
Google uses complex natural language models to associate words with similarly related words in specific contexts. A recent google blog illustrates the problem of contextualising language. Essentally, these articles introduces the concept of using words in context to get the intended meaning of the word. For example, if you type into google 'pupil'- you would expect to get a mix or results for eye anatomy, the fillipino band of the same name, student and teacher resources, and related topics. If you then type in 'pupil dilation' - google will correctly assume that you are interested in eye related sites and bring back results accordingly. This is because the words 'pupil' and 'dilation' often appear together in the context of 'eyes' topics.
This seemingly prosaic task that humans do effortlessly - almost unconsciously - is very difficult to perfect in a software environment. See the diference in meaning between 'arm reduction' (a cosmetic surgery technique) and 'arms reduction' (reducing the amount of weaponry) - computers have a hard time with these sorts of things.
There are times when ambiguity in association results in unintended, and sometimes humerous, results. Put in 'miserable failure' into google and the first page is filled with results about George Bush - this is because in September 2006 a group of people performed a technique called Google bombing. They set up links on websites to George Bush's blog using the keyword text 'miserable failure', so the google algorithm assumed that the link target page was about 'miserable failure' and therefore a search for the phrase returned the blog as the top result. Now if you search for the phrase, you are more likely to get news articles about the incident itself, in a way, self perpetuating the association. Another name for this technique is Googlewashing.
The KAM technique uses a slightly different methodology, but the intention is the same: to manipulate the search results so that a particular page comes up top for a particular, non related phrase. In SEO there is a problem which I call the Keyword Shift Phenomenon (a play on words of the risky shift phenomenon which is an theory of group polorisation by Stoner 1961). This problem occurs when you change the focus of your SEO efforts. Normally this is from a long tailed keyword to a higher frequency keyword like in the SEO Zooming technique, but can also be in response to seasonal variations or trends in search patterns. The keyword shift phenomenon occurs when rankings in the original keyword will drop faster than the rankings in the new keyword will rise, thus leading to a lower overall ranking and lower traffic and conversions in the process.
Consider the following example: my shop - Mykes Mojos - sells two types of products, widgets and gizmos. Widgets sell really well because all the kids want them, therefore, I optimised my Ecom site for the phrase widgets. Now, it transpires that a celebrity was seen using a gizmo, so all the kids now want gizmos, and the sales of widgets drops, whereas the market for gizmos has increased sharply. In response to this, we want to change the focus of the SEO from widgets to gizmos to improve market share and sales and to make up for the fall in sales of widgets. What we do then is change the metatags and site content to make gizmos more salient, change the focus of link building so that the keyword 'gizmos' is used instead of widgets. Over time, rankings for widgets drops, and gizmos increase. But what is we wanted to maintain the rankings for widgets, say, if we knew that the new widgets we have in will sell like hot cakes next season, but we also want to push gizmos? What we can do then is take advantage of the google language model to make google think that gizmos and widgets are actually the same thing- a false synonym. If google thinks that the two products are semantically similar, then any link with 'gizmo' in the title would also count towards the 'widgets' keyword and vice versa. A win-win situation forus then if we can pull it off.
So how do we do this? well, its not easy. Keyword association manipulation requires you to do everything you can to associate the keywords. There are a few tricks you can do. One is to use the keyword 'gizmos' to link to pages about widgets - these pages do not even need to be on your own site. If you link to one on wikipaedia, this has more effect because google confers a high trust rank to wikipaedia. You should also create links with the keyword 'widgets' to pages about gizmos. Again, off-site linking will have greater believability. Another trick is to use the two keywords side by side in linking - eg 'get your widgets / gizmos here' [link to either widget or gizmo page]. You can also use keyword searches to manipulate the results - type in 'gizmos' into google, then find a page about widgets in the results and click on that. If you do it enough times, then eventually, google will use the agregate search data to infer relationships between the synonyms.
At present, this technique is a theoretical model, and large scale experimentation is required to test the hypothesis that KAM can be used to improve your site's search engine relevancy for multiple, simultanious keywords.