When the target keywords for an article have been chosen, one of the most usual questions asked is: how many times should a keyword be used in the content? Is there even such thing as a standard ratio or percentage for keyword usage?
This article will provide you information on how you should address keyword density to get your posts and pages ranking a high as possible in the search engine results pages or “SERPs”.
What are Keywords and Keyword Density?
The most important step after choosing your target keywords is that search engines(like Google) will use those words to interpret what your article is about and display it to users who are searching for that particular topic.
Keyword density is how often your target keywords should be used throughout the article.
If search engines can determine an article’s subject matter by scanning it for keywords, you might think it would simply be a good plan to try and use your keywords throughout your content as much as possible.
While this used to work, the search engine algorithms have become much more complicated and you could now be penalized for overusing a keyword (also known as keyword stuffing). This is why the optimal keyword density has become such a topic of discussion; content creators are exploring the perfect balance between enough keyword uses and too many.
How to calculate keyword density?
If you want to discover the keyword density for a piece of content, you will need to:
- Identify the keyword
- Count the total number of words on the page
- Divide the number of times the keyword appears with the page’s total word count
- Multiply the results with 100
- For example, if a blog post has 1,000 words and a keyword appears 10 times, that means the article has a keyword density of 1%.
If you have a lot of content, it may be helpful to use any of these free keyword density checker tools:
Is There an Optimal Keyword Density?
One of the most popular SEO tools accessible is the Yoast plugin on WordPress. The plugin uses a keyword density counter as a metric for determining how good your on-page SEO is for each article. Yoast states that the keywords density you should aim for is between 0.5% and 2.5%.
Their rationale is that anything over 2.5% starts to look spammy and unnatural, which search engines will not like. So, if you are looking for an estimated range, to begin with, this is likely a good starting point.
However, this percentage does not tell the entire story. There are more factors at play nowadays than simple keyword targeting.
Write for Humans, not Search Engines
Over the past few years, search engines (particularly Google), have been putting a lot of focus into producing algorithms that seek out the highest quality, most useful content and serve it to their users.
These algorithms no longer need to rely on finding exact-match keywords or phrases; they’re able to pick up on synonyms and related topics to get a better picture of what a website is all about.
Along with the fact they have begun penalizing sites for thin-content and are utilizing machine learning to better understand the intent of searchers, it is clear that writing great content is becoming way more important than how many times you feature a specific keyword throughout your article.
If you’re too concentrated on stuffing keywords into your content, it is probably not going to read very well, and people aren’t going to stick around on your website, which will actually harm your search rankings.
On the other hand, putting your effort into creating the most in-depth, valuable piece of content on a subject is much more likely to please the people that find your article. This, in turn, will send good signals to the search engine algorithms and you will be rewarded.
Don’t focus on keyword repetition
You should place the keyword in your title tags and body content, but don’t go overboard.
It’s even possible to rank well with a keyword repetition of only once or twice on a page. Though generally, digital marketers often put a safe value for keyword density at approximately 1%. Yoast SEO on the other hand, one of the most popular WordPress plugins for SEO, suggests a keyword density of between 0.5% to 2.5%.
Prioritize search intent, instead of density
Content is written for people to read, and that is more important than writing for search engine algorithms.
When producing content, try to put yourself in the reader’s point of view. Read the text out loud. Does it sound normal? If yes, then you’re on the right track. Otherwise, you’ll need to re-write and clean up the content.
Google’s Hummingbird algorithmupdate in 2013 has emphasized: “natural writing rather than forced keywords.” It now attempts to understand the user’s search intent to find pages that match that intent, instead of focusing solely on exact-match keywords.
Google has also published Word2vec, an open-source toolkit, that can learn the meaning behind words. Using distributed representation of text to capture similarities among concepts, Word2vec can understand how certain terms are related to one another, in ways that it may not connect to a different but similar term.
When you write in a natural language, it not only gives an excellent signal to Google’s search algorithm but also makes it more readable for the average user.
Good user experience will then result in:
- Lower bounce rates = Users will stick around longer
- Lower exit rates = Users will go to other pages
Search engines will read these metrics as a sign of a page with high relevancy, giving it better rankings on SERP.
A click-worthy title is worth more than keyword optimization
Google looks at more than just keyword matching. It also measures user engagement of your content to determine if the content you provide matches what users are searching for.
If your title tag and meta description contain keywords that are being searched for, it will be more likely for a user to click it. As a result, your content will receive higher click-through rates which then gives a positive signal to search crawlers.
When crafting your title tag, try to avoid click-bait titles that are unrelated to your content. Users will likely bounce off your page quickly, and Google doesn’t like that.
Keyword targeting alone in SEO writing is no longer sufficient. You also need to write captivating copy for your titles and content that captures attention.
Providing unique value is essential for long-term growth
If more users take time to read and browse through your content, Google will rank your page as being highly relevant for those search queries. That is when their search intent matches the content on your website.
There is no doubt that keyword density is necessary to a certain degree, but what makes a more significant difference for better search ranking is to have a denser substance of the content.