The science behind optimal keyword density has been bantered around quite a bit over the past two decades, some experts sharing their ideal percentages and advice for keyword placement while other SEO experts claim keyword density is an overrated concept.
There is a fine line writers tread when crafting blog posts and articles for their websites. That path is littered with questions like, “How do I get my post to rank high on search engines?” “What will attract readers to my topic?” “How many keywords should I incorporate?” “How many times should I use those keywords?” and “How much is too much when it comes to keyword density?”
If you are hoping to avoid keyword density anxiety while also exploring the fundamentals of how those carefully crafted words can improve the searchability of your blog posts or articles, then listen up. There are four general tips to make sure your percentage is correct, allowing for more SEO success.
1. Identify a main keyword or two
“Keyword selection is fundamental to success when it comes to executing a paid search or PPC campaign. It is also integral to a website’s natural or organic ranking on the search engines,” said Michael Mothner in a Forbes article titled “5 Secrets to Selecting Highly Effective SEO Keywords.”
“But keywords are not just about SEO,” Mothner continued. “They are the heart of a company’s marketing campaign at its most granular level. … If you can’t immediately identify the most important keywords for your company, it is doubtful that you can effectively market your products and services to your target audience.”
Once you have identified one to two keywords for a particular blog post or article, think of all the synonyms for those words as well. For instance, if your primary keyword is “productivity” you could use words like “efficiency,” “production,” “output,” or even “work rate.” These similar words will also be recognized by Google.
“With Google’s ability to recognize synonyms, optimizing for a single focus keyword becomes more and more silly,” said Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast.com. Those synonyms will help your article read smoother and more naturally.
2. Don’t forget your meta tags and descriptions
Before publishing your post, read through all your metadata—any tags, url, description, summaries, taglines—and make sure those details match the overall keyword theme of your post.
“Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages),” according to the SEO specialists at Moz.com. “These short paragraphs are a webmaster’s opportunity to advertise content to searchers and to let them know exactly whether the given page contains the information they’re looking for.”
3. Set a goal for 1.5% density ratio
While many SEO specialists haven’t pinpointed an ideal keyword density ratio, many lean toward a range between 0.5% and 2.5% with an optimal percentage at 1.5%.
To reach that 1.5%, a post would have approximately 13 keyword mentions in an 850-word article (number of keywords, divided by number of words in the article, times 100). If the article is far less than that lengthy 850 words yet still maintains 13 keywords or more, you run the risk of being flagged for keyword stuffing. Penalties for stuffing can include a ban on your website—temporary or permanent—by certain search engines.
“There may not be a perfect percentage for you to aim for—but I do think you run the risk of tripping keyword penalty filters if you, for instance, were to keyword stuff a page and every element on it with your focus terms,” said Shaun Anderson in his post on Hobo Internet Marketing. “I write natural page copy which is always focused on the key phrases and related key phrases.”
4. Include that keyword in the title
Simply put, “if the keyword isn’t in the title of the page, it is going to be tougher to rank for that keyword,” said Brett Tabke, CEO and founder of Pubcon Inc.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many bloggers neglect the very basic rule of including keywords in the title of a blog post.
While keyword density may not be an exact science and may be padded with room for lots of interpretation, there is a way to create an engaging and searchable blog post sure to attract readers. Using these four strategies, you can create a customized method that works best for your business.