Why is it that if I do a search in google for my keyword in speech marks I find myself on the first page - BUT without the speech marks I cannot be found?

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hmmm. Normally when you use speech marks the search is done with the exact combination. I.e. if you search for "The Club" it looks only for the exact arrangement. Otherwise it looks just for the separate words "the" and "club". In this case "the" would not be searched (because no individual meaning) and "club" would be too many.

So, especially if your search phrase has filler words in it (the, in, on, to, and) you can be found with the exact phrase but not with the separated keywords.

mandrake

Using quotation as mentioned above helps to remove sites that aren't specifically "targeting" the keyword phrase. Use the allintitle and allinanchor text to get a better idea of who's trying to optimize for a give keyword.

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