What is Keyword Density?

Keyword density is defined as the number of occurrences of a given keywor on a web page divided by the number of total amount of words on the page. It is given as a percentage and is seen as a metric or analysis tool for optimizing your organic web results. The SEO world has seen the “perfect keyword density” as sort of a myth or legend, with reports ranging from optimal density as 2% to 5%.

Was it ever a good metric?

Prior to 2011, and the panda update, it was thought that the more times your keywords showed up on a given page the better chance you had to have your website returned when those keywords were searched. It was seen as a “sure-fire” way to improve your organic search results up for exact match searches. People, realizing this, started keyword stuffing or placing an excessive number of keywords into their pages in order have the highest keyword density. Some went to the extreme of hiding words on their sites by making it the same color as the background or having the font be too small to read. Stopping this practice was one of the main Panda features, focusing on quality, user friendly content. John Mueller, from google is quoted saying, “Keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there”. Not only is increasing your keyword density not going to help your organic search, it can actually penalize it now. Search Engine Land further discusses penalties for thin content, keyword stuffing, and hidden text.

How can I Effectively use Keywords?

It is clear to see that there are no short cuts to increasing your search results. The effective use of keywords can help Google see the relevance of your site though. The hummingbird update helps Google to understand the intent behind searches and find results to match. This means that you don’t need exact match results for your site to be seen as relevant. Google has talked about a diminishing return to the use of individual keywords. After seeing a word a few times, it has little to no effect on search results. So instead of thinking about having a few words with high density it is better to have 10-20 words with high traffic, used a couple of times. It is very important to know which words will relate best to your topic, and make sure to include them naturally in your content. Just as important as knowing your keywords is placing them in the best locations. Title pages and HTML headers are considered the most important place to have your keywords. This is your most precious space so use it effectively. Having a descriptive, targeted, header will improve your relevance and improve your sites SEO. While google says it doesn’t use meta descriptions to test for relevance, the words that match the searchers words are made bold and are easily seen by human eyes. Even though this is not included in Google’s algorithm it will increase your click through rate because it catches a human’s eye and implies importance in the human mind. Lastly is the importance of including the keywords in the body of your site to show google that you are continuing to talk about the intended topic and that you have actual applicable content. As a general rule create readable content that is suitable for the intended reader.

Is there a Correct Keyword Density?

This question has been asked thousands of times and will be asked a thousand times more, no there is no correct density. It really shouldn’t even be considered in your SEO strategies. The only time you might want to use it is to see if you are using words too much, to prevent penalization. Sadly, for some, the sun really has set on keyword density being an applicable metric for SEO.