Which words pack more wallop, are more emphatic, are more beefy or juicy? Whatever you want to call it, if you are an SEO or copywriter, you probably know what I mean.
Well, the answer to such a question depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
According to the family of BM25 algorithms,
a term has more information gain during its first occurrences, especially if these occur earlier in a document. This pressumes some kind of relationship between information gain and the position and distribution of words in a document.
Journalists and editors understand the concept. That’s why they like to answer the who, what, when, why, and how early in a copy, although not necessarily in that order.
And that’s why you see so many press release titles written in a ‘who-what’ way!
That strategy might work with search engines, but if you want to emphasize more specific keywords in a natural way you probably need a different keyword positioning strategy, at least if you write in English.
Says who? William Strunk, Jr. in his book The Elements of Style.
Says who? Joe Carrillo and Strunk, and quote:
In his original 1918 edition of The Elements of Style (that was long before E. B. White came up with a chapter on style that made him a co-author of the book), William Strunk, Jr. came up with this perplexing prescription in his discussion of the principles of exposition:
“The proper place for the word, or group of words, which the writer desires to make most prominent is usually the end of the sentence…The word or group of words entitled to this position of prominence is usually the logical predicate, that is, the new element in the sentence…”
Strunk gave the following example to illustrate his point:
The modifying phrase at the tail-end of the sentence: “This steel is principally used for making razors, because of its hardness.”
The logical predicate at the tail-end of the sentence: “Because of its hardness, this steel is principally used in making razors.”
And here is the eye-opening point:
For his final words on the subject, however, Strunk made the following provocative—and as I already said, perplexing—prescription:
“The principle that the proper place for what is to be made most prominent is the end applies equally to the words of a sentence, to the sentences of a paragraph, and to the paragraphs of a composition.”
Carrillo’s essay is an excellent one. He later wrote a follow up post and quote:
In spoken English, we can emphasize the ideas we want to emphasize by giving them a stronger stress, leveling off our voice when enunciating minor or neutral ones, and downplaying the points that simply don’t support our contention. In writing, however, the process is rarely that simple. We can achieve emphasis only with our choice of words and how we array them into word clusters, into clauses and phrases, and ultimately into sentences and paragraphs. Mechanical devices exist that help, of course, like underlining, boldface type, italics, headlines and subheadlines, and—in today’s savvy word-processing routines—even colors, clip-arts, and emoticons. But as the aspiring writer soon discovers, much of the emphasis we seek has to be built into the very contours of the individual words as they unfold on the page.
There are three basic word-positioning principles we must know for maximum emphasis in writing English sentences: first, the initial and terminal positions of sentences are by nature more emphatic than their middles; second, when we construct a complex sentence, the main clause gets more emphasis than subordinate clauses; and third, when everything is written and done, the last words of the sentence are normally the most emphatic of all. These are structurally inherent in the English language itself, as we will see more clearly when we study them in closer detail.
Carrillo then mentions three important concepts:
1. The initial and terminal positions of sentences are prime.
2. The main clause gets more emphasis than subordinate clauses.
3. The last words of the sentence are normally the most emphatic.
The take away
Clearly, all this shows that although interrelated, information gain, keyword wallop, and relevancy are not the same thing. Relevancy is more along the lines of “aboutness”, “eliteness”, and few other semantic concepts.
The problem is that there is a relevance perception divide between machines and end-users: topic that we have discussed. See this link:
Still thinking in the keyword density/spamming crap?