SEO Writing: Keyword Density FAQ

Keyword density was all the hype many years ago, when search engines worked on much simpler algorithms. Just sprinkle your content with enough keywords and phrases and you will see your website rocket to the top of the results page.

Nowadays, SEO work is more complex and to check keyword density is on the bottom of the to-do list. It’s mostly because the practice has been abused to the extent that search engines penalize pages with overly redundant keywords.

What is keyword density?

For those who are new to this, keyword density is the ratio of keywords or phrases to the total number of words in an article. Back then, topic relevancy was gauged on the number of times a keyword appears in an article.

What is the best keyword density ratio?

Now, the tricky question. Many SEO experts keep a keyword density of around 2 percent (calculation details explained in Wiki). This is not bad, nor is it a cut and dry figure.

The relevancy of a page to a search term has evolved to include more defining factors, not just a single set of words. Search engines know better than to pick webpages showing the same key words or phrases again and again (which sounds too fabricated).

How to use keywords wisely?

Somebody masterfully writing about a subject would write variations of a key phrase and even include related terms in a single article. This means that an article merely mentioning laptop coolers in a blog is different than an article review for the same thing because the text would most likely have other related words like “USB”, “fan”, “temperature” and even a mention of brand names.

Is keyword density outdated?

If there’s one thing you can do to optimize your target keywords in an article, it is to include them in the header tags – h1 and h2 (title and sections) and so on. Words put into header tags convey importance, and this is exactly how search engines see it.

Similarly, emphasized (html tag <em>) and strong (html tag <strong>) words provide the needed highlight for crawlers to easily spot them.

To say not to check keyword density anymore may be too extreme. There is still some importance in checking keyword density. First, to know whether your article is keyword stuffed (which is not good); and next is to check whether the text is highlighting the wrong terms – a result of consciously avoiding the keyword you’re supposedly running after.

Whether you actively check keyword density or not, as long as you write naturally and the article flow is good, they keyword density will most likely fall within the 2% range.

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