All about Keyword Placement and Why Google might rank Plagiarized Content Higher

4 min read

A week has passed since we delved into the topic of Incorporating Keywords in Content, and now a fascinating subsequent query has arisen. This inquiry found its way to John Mueller during one of the informative Google SEO Office-Hours sessions, where he provides insights on various SEO-related matters. The question at hand revolves around the strategic placement of a focus keyword within an article, particularly in the context of extensive, informative pieces. The aim is to ensure Google comprehends the essence of the page and its content, subsequently facilitating effective ranking strategies.
The query seeks guidance on the optimal location for the focus keyword within a lengthy article to convey the most accurate understanding to Google and enhance the potential for improved ranking.

keyword placement

No, it can’t be just once at the bottom of the page!

In 2023, we acknowledge that longer articles often enjoy favorable rankings. Yet, the intriguing question that surfaces pertains to the interplay between the focus keyword, its level of competitiveness, and its strategic positioning – all of which influence a page’s ranking. The inquiry investigates the optimal placement of the focus keyword to extract maximal SEO impact and consequently attain improved rankings. This brings us to the insightful perspective shared by John Mueller on this matter.

“So… I would recommend that 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 from 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. So that’s kind of the direction I would head there. I would not worry about can Google get to the word number 20,000 or not. Because if you’re talking about the word 20,000 and you’re saying this is the most important keyword for my page, then you’re already doing things wrong.”

keyword placement

When in doubt, think like a visitor!

In the context of 2023, John advocates a shift in perspective: it’s less about how Google perceives your page and more about understanding how a visitor engages with it upon arrival. The emphasis redirects towards the visitor’s experience – does your page instill a sense of assurance that it aligns with their intent? Does it seamlessly provide the sought-after solution? Furthermore, does it present additional valuable insights that might not have initially occurred to the user? You are undoubtedly on the right trajectory if these questions garner affirmative responses. Conversely, if these inquiries yield adverse outcomes, it’s crucial to recognize that Google adopts a similar user-centric vantage point when assessing your page. In essence, perceiving your page through the lens of a user not only enhances the visitor’s experience but also aligns with Google’s perspective.

“You really need to make sure that the (kind of the) information that tells us what this page is about is as obvious as possible so that when users go there they’re like yes, I made it to the right page, I will read what this page has to tell me.” said Mueller.

plagiarized content ranking higher

That website stole my content and it is ranking higher. Why, Google, just why?

Let’s address this matter directly. Encountering content theft is undoubtedly one of the most distressing challenges a website owner can confront. It ranks alongside the anguish of losing valuable customers and business opportunities. In a certain sense, it mirrors such adversities. The question looms: Why does Google sometimes favor plagiarized content over the authentic original? This query was raised during a recent hangout session, echoing through the ages. The inquirer sought insights into the factors underpinning this phenomenon and, more crucially, sought guidance on preventive measures.
John Mueller, in his characteristic fashion, embarked on a comprehensive response. He commenced by highlighting the option of filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint, an avenue particularly relevant for website owners in the United States. Subsequently, he delved into the intricacies of why such occurrences might transpire. Notably, he emphasized that Google is adept at discerning between genuine content and fraudulent duplications.
In the ensuing sections, we elaborate on his detailed response.

“From my point of view it’s something that we can determine to a large extent. But even if we know which one is the original and which one is the copy, sometimes it makes sense to show a copy in the search results. So that’s something where it’s like it can happen.”

“And one of the situations where I have seen this happen consistently is if a website is of lower quality overall, where when our systems look at it they’re like, well we can’t really trust this website.

“But if a higher quality website were to take some of this content and publish it, we would say, well we know more about this website and actually maybe we should show this content in the search results. That’s also one of the situations that you might be running into where maybe it’s worthwhile to also invest in improving the quality of your website overall.”

“So not just that one article that apparently people like. But also the rest of your website overall.”

plagiarized content ranking higher

All right, so what is the next step?

Beyond enhancing the website’s holistic quality – extending beyond the specific page in focus – it is prudent to examine low-quality inbound and outbound links thoroughly. Regrettably, this crucial aspect of quality assessment is frequently relegated to the sidelines. While quality content remains indisputable, it is equally imperative to cast a discerning eye on the origins and destinations of the incoming and outgoing traffic, transcending the realm of mere search queries.