How Important is Keyword Density?

For those of you that are not sure what keyword density is, here is the Wikipedia definition.
“Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page.”

Back in the dark ages when SEO was in its infancy you could actually get high rankings in search engines like AltaVista simply by adding your keyword a hundred times at the bottom of the page.  Google classes this action as spam so don’t even try it.

Depending on who you ask you may be recommended to use a keyword density of anything between 1% and 7%

To be honest you shouldn’t really worry about keyword density, if your content is well written and contains your keyword a few times this is fine. Your keyword should also be in the title tag, meta description tag and H1 tag if possible.

Kenword density is only a very small part of on page SEO so this is something you should not waste too much time on.

Lets look at our example of  “ladies designer shoes” again.

The site with the number one position does not have the phrase “ladies designer shoes” anywhere on the page!! The Title tag is “Women’s Designer Shoes” I believe that Google uses LSI so it recognises that “ladies” and “women’s” are very similar.
The phrase “designer shoes” has a keyword density of 1.06% The word “shoes” has a keyword density of 2.65%

Look at the site at position 5 (and this is what I would call a spammy site. I am surprised Google is ranking it so high, this is the type of site the Pandas and the Penguins are supposed to de-rank) This site has a keyword rich domain name and the keyword density for “ladies designer shoes” is 10.64%. It is repeated 36 times on the page of 1015 words.

There are 2 sites that rank on page one with a keyword density of outside the 1%-7% recommendations. In fact the only website on page one for “ladies designer shoes” that has a keyword density of in-between 1%-7% is the site at position 8, with a keyword density of 4.88%. 8 sites on page one have a keyword density of less than 1% and one has a keyword density of over 10%

So draw your own conclusions, How Important is Keyword Density?

There are many other factors you need to consider for top rankings so don’t waste your time analysing keyword density. Just write interesting quality content that humans will want to read.

PS. Just realised that the keyword density of the phrase “keyword density” in this post is pretty high. I wonder how it will rank :)

PPS. The keyword density for the phrase “keyword density” on the page is 4.02%
The phrase now appears on this page 18 times.

 

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Roger Weavers

Roger has been working in the telecomms and IT industry since 1973 working for international companies such as BT and Honeywell. Roger founded Sytec Computers Ltd in 1996 and provided consultancy services to a variety of UK companies. In 2001 Sytec diversified into web design, marketing and hosting and now Roger specialises in SEO.

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16 Comments

  1. Paul Conway says:

    Hey Roger

    I never ever bother about keyword density anymore. Like you said if it is well written / informative then visitors to your blog will stay and read it. This is great because it will keep down the bounce rate :)

    You mention Penguin and Panda. Whilst on that subject on the first line of your text you mentioned wikipedia, you should have a hyper link there taking the reader to the relevant page in wiki. Big G likes this as it shows you are giving valuable and relevant information to your readership. You will find your quality score getting a nice boost :)

    Speak soon
    Paul

  2. Hi Roger,

    Very informative article! As you point out I think keyword density isn’t nearly as influential as it used to be. I’m curious how important LSI plays into the rankings. Perhaps more now? I also wonder if the spammy site is ranked higher because it has 1000+ words, or some other factor?

    Good stuff!
    -Karl

  3. Hi Karl,

    Yes I need to find out more about LSI because I believe it can have a big effect and would be really useful to use related keywords in anchor text as well. I have just started work on a new clients site selling womens clothing so I will definitely be including ladies in some of the anchor text.
    Google seems to love keyword rich domain still, which I think is really spammy

  4. Thanks for the tip Paul I’ll add a link to Wiki :)

  5. Brad Lees says:

    Hi Roger
    An interesting read. I don’t currently bother with SEO as I’m trying to focus on different ways of promotion. I think anyone who can nail effective SEO has basically ‘got it made’ because of the potential traffic.
    From a real ‘outsider’ perspective I would agree with what Karl says about LSI – Google is a sophisticated beast and they surely put emphasis on related words and phrases.
    Brad

  6. Hi Brad,
    Hmm…. I wish I did ‘got it made’.
    Driving traffic is just part of the story. A website that converts well is also required.
    Roger

  7. Kevin says:

    Very informative post. I’ve heard some of the same things you have. I even used to make sure all of my articles had the perfect amount of keywords and a high score in seopressor. As I venture into some of my local SEO endeavors over the next few weeks it’s a relief I won’t have to worry as much about keyword density as I originally would have. Thanks for the post.

  8. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your comments. You have reminded me that I need to post some updated information about Local SEO. There has been a lot of changes since I did a Google Places webinar last year.

  9. Gerald says:

    Hi Roger, funny enough my latest post on my blog is about the Google Penguin update. When I was researching this subject I read that after the update it is not a good idea to overdo the keyword density. Good quality content for your readers is now even more important.
    Thanks for the post,
    Gerald.

  10. Hi Gerald,

    I think that keyword density lost its importance long before Penguin and Panda, as you say good quality content is important even more so now.
    Cheers
    Roger

  11. Ade says:

    Yeah, I don’t worry about keyword density anymore. As your post has proved, even though you made no conscious effort to put that particular phrase in, it appears naturally almost too many times. If your article has the sufficient depth it is bound to mention the right keywords and probably enough related keywords which should give it extra kudos and rank for other things outside of it. Plus, writing like a machine destroys the creative urge and produces poor articles.

  12. Zara Imrie says:

    Thanks Roger!,

    I found this post really useful. I want to keep my posts as natural as possible but was a bit worried that I should be including the keywords more.

    Zara

  13. Hi Zara,

    Yes keep your posts natural and don’t try and stuff them with your keywords. You should be writing your posts for humans not search engines. I would recommend using an SEO plug-in for your WordPress blog to make sure your title and meta description tags are created properly. I use and recommend Yoast but there are others that you might prefer.

    Cheers
    Roger

  14. […] I assume you are referring to keyword density.  The number of times you use you keyword is not a big factor in SEO.  You should try and get your keyword in the title and use it a couple of times in the article, once near the beginning and once near the end and anywhere else it makes sense.  Do not add it too many times as this is considered spam.  More important is to use relevant words that fit into the theme of your content.  For more details read my post “How Important Is Keyword Density” […]

  15. […] Only use keywords once or twice in header tags and 3 or 4 times in your body next.  Having a high keyword density will be considered as search engine […]