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Does Location Of Your Keyword Affect Ranking?

By Jon Ricerca
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004

One of our members asked for a study of keyword location on a page. Is it more effective to have your keyword mentioned in the top third, middle third or bottom third of a page?

Here is the methodology I used to answer this question. I gathered the results of the queries naturally performed last month by myself and three associates using Yahoo and Google. I then fetched the pages and divided the body section into three equal parts for each page. I tallied the results for the first 8 rankings on both Yahoo and Google (keeping the results separate) and then converted them into a percentage of the total results for each search engine.

Here are the graphs showing Google and Yahoo results:


The X-axis shows the ranking (from #1 through #8) of the search engine results in the study. The Y-axis shows the percentage of domains that contained the keyword in the top (red line), middle (blue line) and bottom (purple line) thirds of the body section of the page.

It is interesting to note that pages containing the keyword in the top and bottom third of the body section ranked much better on Google. The top section had a normalized correlation of +42 on a scale of -100 to +100. The bottom third also showed a remarkable positive correlation of +46 on the same scale. Having the keyword in the middle third had no significant effect (no correlation whatsoever... neither positive nor negative).

The Yahoo results were even more interesting. I generally ignore any correlations between -35 and +35 as being generally insignificant. On Yahoo, none of the three sections showed any remarkable correlations. The scores were a +17 for the top, -3 for the middle and -17 for the bottom third of the body section. Does this mean that Yahoo doesn't even look for the keyword in the body section?

Advice: Mention your keywords near the top and/or bottom of a page for Google ranking.

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