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Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, often takes questions from people and answers them via video. WebProNews featured one of these questions from Cutts recently regarding synonyms in your content.

Regarding the use of synonyms in your on-page content, Matt Cutts makes the following comments:

  • Use both words, “without sounding artificial or stilted or spammy”
  • “Make sure that you mention, in a natural way, that you are good at both of those”
  • “Maybe once it’s a USB drive, and the next time it’s a USB stick, and at the bottom of the page it’s a flash drive”
  • Read the text aloud and ask, “Does it sound stilted? Does it sound artificial?”
  • “Try to use the words in a natural way as long as it doesn’t go too far, and people start to notice that it sounds weird”

Notice how many times he used the words “natural,” “artificial,” and “stilted.” He even used “spammy” once, and “weird.” The idea is to use natural language writing techniques to cover the topics you write about online. That is, write as if you were writing about your topic and search engines didn’t exist.

If you use the same keyword phrase over and over again in your content, then it will likely sound artificial or spammy. You don’t want that. So you do want to substitute your keyword phrase a few times with something that is synonymous. You want to do that so that your writing does come across as natural and not stilted. But here’s the catch – if you replace your primary keyword phrase too often and use too many synonyms just for the sake of using synonyms, then it will sound unnatural.

So the key is to find that balance, that in-between place, where you focus on your primary keyword but substitute it for a synonym in certain places so that your content flows smoothly from beginning to end.

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