What is keyword density and how does it affect your website?

Keywords are the words and phrases that sum up what your content is about. In terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords are the words used by those searching for information online. For example, someone with a dog might enter the words “best dog food for Labrador Retrievers” when searching for the healthiest option for their pet.

Google, Bing, and other search engines use these words to find relevant content for users. If you have written an article with the keywords “best dog food” or preferably “best dog food for Labrador Retrievers,” then your post may be suggested to the user.

Keyword density refers to the number of times the keywords appear on your page, expressed as a percentage. If your keyword is simply “dog” and the word appear 5 times for every hundred words, then your keyword density is 5%

There exists some debate as to how important keyword density is. A quote from Google’s John Mueller in 2014 says,

“keyword density in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have moved on from there.”

Despite this, there are those who will recommend a certain keyword density to score well in search rankings. Unfortunately, just as there is disagreement as to whether keyword density matters, there is also some debate as to the ideal density.

In general, many now say that there is, in fact, no ideal, and it is best to simply focus on writing naturally to avoid keyword stuffing, which can be damaging to your SEO.

What is keyword stuffing?

Essentially it involves repeating the keywords to an unnatural degree, stuffing your post with them in the hope of ranking higher for them in search engines. It is not as popular as it was a few years ago but is still being used by some brands.

Stuffing may also consist of adding words without proper context, using words that are not relevant to the topic, or even using blocks of the same keywords.

To continue with the dog food example from above, keyword stuffing might be “if you are looking for the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers, look no further. We offer the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers at the best price! Come to us when you want the best dog food for Labrador Retrievers!” This could continue for several paragraphs, with the keywords also appearing in the page’s code, meta tags, and comment tags.

Writing naturally is your best bet, but if you are still seeking more concrete guidelines, here are some tips on proper keyword usage:

  • Use one primary keyword on each page
  • Write more than 300 words in each post
  • Stick to 2% keyword density or lower in your copy
  • Include secondary keywords, long-tail variations, or synonyms
  • Use the keywords in the right places, such as the page title, title tag, meta descriptions paragraph, and near the end of the piece.

While keyword density may not carry as much weight as it once did, it is still worth considering in order to improve your page’s visibility, so long as you use your keywords correctly and avoid stuffing.

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Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.

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