Keyword Density

Get your free SEO Website Audit


Overview


Using keywords in website copy, blogs and social media is a useful but often misunderstood part of search engine optimization. Using keywords allows search engines—and your customers—to find you online. And when crawlers first started using keywords to index and locate pages online, website owners stuffed pages full of keywords hoping to get noticed. While this technique worked for a while, keyword abuse now hurts your website to the point that Google and other search engines can recognize stuffed pages and won’t use them in SERPs.

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density

What is Keyword Density?

Keyword Density

Keywords are individual words and phrases that are part of a search query. They’re the words that Internet users use in a search engine when searching for information online. For example, if a user wants to find a good restaurant in San Francisco to take a date, they might type in “Looking for date night San Francisco restaurant.” The search engine finds all the websites that use “San Francisco restaurant” as a keyword.

Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword shows up in your website copy. The importance of keyword density has changed dramatically from the early days of the Internet, and understanding how frequently to use your keywords is more crucial than ever.

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density
Keyword Density

Choosing the Right Keywords

Choosing the right keywords requires sophisticated research that goes beyond plugging a word into the Google Keyword tool to see which has the highest search traffic. You must determine what words and phrases your target audience is searching for as they look for the products and services you offer. To do this, you must have qualitative and quantitative insight into your target audience.

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density
Keyword Density

Keyword Density Relevance

While Google updates have caused dramatic shifts in the search world, one thing that has not changed is that keywords remain at the heart of online searching. Finding a keyword that has the power to increase organic traffic to your website is one of the most important tasks in effective copywriting and testing slight variances can deliver huge results.

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density
Keyword Density

Headlines and Image Text

Calculating keyword density within your copy is crucial, but there are other places within each post or article where it is beneficial to include your keywords. As obvious as it may seem, creating keyword rich headings is an essential SEO technique. The keyword must be in the H1 tag in order for the search bots to know what the article is about.

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density

When You Keyword Spam

Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density Keyword Density

Dangers of Keyword Density

Copywriting for Optimal Keyword Density


Using keywords in website copy, blogs and social media is a useful but often misunderstood part of search engine optimization. Using keywords allows search engines—and your customers—to find you online. And when crawlers first started using keywords to index and locate pages online, website owners stuffed pages full of keywords hoping to get noticed. While this technique worked for a while, keyword abuse now hurts your website to the point that Google and other search engines can recognize stuffed pages and won’t use them in SERPs.

What is Keyword Density?

Keywords are individual words and phrases that are part of a search query. They’re the words that Internet users use in a search engine when searching for information online. For example, if a user wants to find a good restaurant in San Francisco to take a date, they might type in "Looking for date night San Francisco restaurant." The search engine finds all the websites that use "San Francisco restaurant" as a keyword.

Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword shows up in your website copy. The importance of keyword density has changed dramatically from the early days of the Internet, and understanding how frequently to use your keywords is more crucial than ever.

In the past, SEO was more reactive. Website managers had to figure out what the search engine wanted and cater the content, site structure and link strategy to that, through any means possible. When search engines primarily looked at HTML meta tags for keywords, keyword stuffing was the way to improve SERP ranking. But that was before the shift toward content quality.

Thankfully, Google caught on to the spam and deceptive techniques and structured updates so search engines could learn what humans really want: quality, relevant content. Google Panda, a 2011 algorithm update, shook up the world of search. Web content came under greater scrutiny and each post was analyzed for quality. It sought out relevant content and did away with high rankings for black hat practices. After this update, websites with duplicated pages, keyword stuffing and short irrelevant posts were demoted and no longer ranked high in search results. Authoritative and original content with longer copy length became the standard of excellent SEO copy.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Choosing the right keywords requires sophisticated research that goes beyond plugging a word into the Google Keyword tool to see which has the highest search traffic. You must determine what words and phrases your target audience is searching for as they look for the products and services you offer. To do this, you must have qualitative and quantitative insight into your target audience.

Being able to rank for the searches of your target audience brings them to your website. Increasing organic traffic is great, but it won’t have any effect on your acquisition rate if it’s not the right kind of traffic. Keyword research done right can help you understand the changing market needs, shifts in consumer demands and produce the kind of content your audience is looking for.

One aspect of choosing a keyword is judging its value. Keyword research tools can show you the worth of any given keyword in terms of sales. There may be a highly valuable keyword that is tangentially relevant to your products and a more modestly valuable keyword that is directly relevant. Though not always the most obvious choice, the latter is more likely to increase sales for your website. If searchers use a particular keyword to land on your website and they find relevant content when they get there, they’ll stick around.

The Google Keyword Planner is the Holy Grail of keyword search and analysis. It can tell you how many monthly searches there for a specific word or phrase, parse the data geographically and help determine what people are looking for and how they’re searching for it. It examines user behavior and uses those insights to tailor to your keywords. It’s actually a very complex tool, but learning to use it correctly yields big results.

Analyzing which keywords to target is key, but it’s a tricky balance between popular keywords with high searches and high competition with narrow keywords and fewer searches (and, as a result, less competition). Data from Google Trends, which looks at keyword search from the perspective of popularity, can show you if a keyword or phrase is rising or falling in popularity over time. This introduces yet another element to consider. Perhaps a keyword has low searches but is rising in popularity quickly.

Keyword Density Relevance

While Google updates have caused dramatic shifts in the search world, one thing that has not changed is that keywords remain at the heart of online searching. Finding a keyword that has the power to increase organic traffic to your website is one of the most important tasks in effective copywriting and testing slight variances can deliver huge results.

How often you use your keywords in your content depends on the relevance of the keyword to the topic of your article or blog post. This takes a measure of discernment and judgment, but our research suggests that 1 percent keyword density is a good start, without exceeding 3 percent. Calculating keyword density is quite simple—if your keyword is “dress,” it should show up one to three times for every 100 words on the page.

“Dress” is a very general keyword that is likely to be crowded in terms of search engine results. You’re not likely to rank very high if that’s your only keyword. This is where we get into long-tail keyword phrases, which complicate the equation but can get you much better results if used correctly. Let’s take a bridal boutique that has commissioned a blog post about trying on affordable wedding dresses. The long-tail keyword is “affordable wedding dresses,” while the short-tail keyword is “dress” or “dresses.” It might be difficult to avoid using the word “dress” or “wedding dress” in every other sentence, but this is where caution is needed. An article that appears spammy with a very high keyword density will not be looked upon favorably by search engines. Therefore, it’s good practice to use a blend of both long-tail and short-tail keywords in the post, aiming to hit 1 to 3 percent overall, as well as creatively calling upon synonyms and related phrases. Not only does this help your SEO, it makes your content better overall.

Headlines and Image Text

Calculating keyword density within your copy is crucial, but there are other places within each post or article where it is beneficial to include your keywords. As obvious as it may seem, creating keyword rich headings is an essential SEO technique. The keyword must be in the H1 tag in order for the search bots to know what the article is about.

But a headline that reads like a headline written for search bots is sure to bore your readers. Aim to write a headline that genuinely informs a potential reader about the substance of the article. Maintaining relevant, high-quality content throughout your SEO writing will help you use your keywords more naturally.

Along with the importance of headings are the subheadings. Your H2 tags are yet one more opportunity to alert search bots to the topic of your content. This is an excellent place to use keyword variations and long-tail keyword phrases to boost your searchability.

And don’t overlook optimizing your images. While it creates one more step during the content creating process, images are a great asset in keyword density if you use your keyword in the image name and alt text.

When You Keyword Spam

Now, when keyword density is too high, it’s tagged as spam. Keyword stuffing alerts the search engines to a lack of content quality. So while keywords are essential in helping search engines find, crawl and index your site, overuse of keywords breaks quality guidelines and gets your website booted off search engine indexes.

The search engine wants to provide the user with the best results to the query, resulting in a good user experience. This is why you must write for the reader, not the search engine. Consider these two examples:

  1. The Milton Auto Repair Shop in Tucson is a quality auto repair shop to fix your auto repair shop.
  2. Car problems? Bring your vehicle to our auto repair shop and we’ll have you back on the road in no time.

One example is clearly written for a search bot while the other for a human. The sentence written for a human reader builds trust and authority, establish the reputation and tone of a brand and convince the reader to look further at the website. The spam example may get the reader on the website, but the experience will be so dissatisfying that the reader will go straight back to the results page for a better website and better user experience.

On the other hand, when keyword density is too low, it doesn’t trigger the search engine spiders. Not enough keywords and the search engines assume the page is not relevant to the searcher’s query. But when it’s too high, the search engine perceives it as spam. It’s a balancing act that is difficult to master.

Copywriting for Optimal Keyword Density

We mentioned before—write first for humans, then for search engines. When you begin writing a blog post, article or even a website page, it’s important to have an idea of what your keywords are. Know in advance what you’re going to focus on and do some research on what keywords are searching well. Then forget about them and just write. If you don’t worry about keywords as you write, you’ll write more naturally for the human reader. Once you have your ideas down and you’ve perfected the tone of the piece, reread it and track your keyword density. Fill your content to optimal keyword density—1 to 3 percent—being careful to make sure your copy still flows well.

Writing for keywords isn’t rocket science, but it is a science that you need to perfect so the search engines and your audience can find you.

Subscribe to the SEO Expert Newsletter

Receive SEO tips, ideas, & best practices

Be the first in your vertical to use cutting edge SEO.

Sign Up
Share
Tweet
+1
Share