What is Keyword Density, and How Does It Affect SEO?

2023.02.05 10:04 PM By Joshua Taddeo, Principal Consultant

So, you're about to set out to write your next blog post, and you've chosen your primary keyword. These questions may come to mind when it comes to your keyword strategy: How do you know how many times to use a keyword in a piece of content? Is keyword density important for search engine optimization? Having the right SEO strategy helps you to maximize your organic traffic and search rankings on Google. Read on to learn more about keyword density, keyword stuffing, and how to find the right balance of keyword usage for your content.

What is Keyword Density?

Keyword density is the number of times your keyword appears in a single piece of written content compared to the total word count. This means that if you use the keyword ten times in a 1000-word piece of content, then the keyword density is one percent. This also can be called keyword phrase density since, in many situations, your "keyword" may actually be a long-tail keyword or a phrase. Whether it is a keyword or keyword phrase doesn't change the measurement.

Any given piece of content should have a primary target keyword or "seed keyword." This is the main focus of the content and matches what users on Google are searching for when they find your page. You will use this keyword throughout your content a certain number of times.

keyword research to boost google rankings

How to Calculate Keyword Density

Keyword density can also be calculated as a specific figure, should you need to. To determine the keyword density of a webpage, simply divide the number of times a given keyword is mentioned by the total number of words on the page; the resulting figure is the keyword density of that page.

When you're using a keyword density analysis tool, you may wonder how your tool calculates your density. The formula for keyword density is simple: Number of times the keyword appears on the page/number of words on the page x 100 = Keyword density. So, if you wrote a blog post with 2000 words and used your keyword 20 times, it would look like this:

20/2000= 0.01 x 100 = 1%

So, when you use a keyword density checker, this is most likely the formula the tool will use to calculate your density for you. A keyword density checker tool is valuable to ensure you're using keywords appropriately on your site. Previously, Google had no limit on how often you could use a keyword.

creating a keyword strategy

As a result, companies would stuff their pages with the keyword to try and rank in the search results. This overuse of keywords caused rankings to suffer because the terms overshadowed the content. Since then, Google updated its algorithm to discourage this black hat SEO technique.

Now, if you use keywords too often, it's called keyword stuffing, and it negatively impacts your site's ranking in search results. A keyword density checker tool can help you check and see if you're using your keyword too often. It will help you determine if you need to reoptimize your page to reduce keyword usage. On the other hand, you can also use this tool to see if your keyword usage is too low and if you need to use the keyword more.

What is a good keyword density?

Even if keyword density is not a top SEO factor, it's worth knowing a range for keyword density just so your content avoids having too few or too many repetitions of the keyword.

Most SEO experts believe the ideal keyword density is 1-2%. Of course, Google has never established an ideal keyword density, so the answers vary depending on who you ask. WordPress SEO plugin creator Yoast, for example, recommends a keyword density of anywhere from 0.5 to 3%. But on average, the 1 to 2% range is the most accepted range.

That means a 1000-word piece should contain the target keyword anywhere from 10 to 20 times. In our previous example, you would include the word "goldfish" 10 to 20 times if the article were 1000 words long.

How to Add Keywords Strategically

When we talk about how many keywords you should focus on in a web page, it depends a lot on the keywords you are looking to use, how related they are to each other, and how they can help you push your message forward. 

explaining keyword strategy

When it comes to keyword research, it should not be too hard for you to come up with at least five to ten keywords. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should focus on all of them. 

First, take a look at the keyword hierarchy rules. There are three main types of keywords for SEO content:

  • Primary keyword
  • Secondary keywords
  • Additional keywords

The primary keyword should be your main focus of the entire content; ensure your title and content reflect that. You can't write great content about two separate topics. You should only use one primary keyword to drive your content forward.

Your secondary keywords should complement your primary keyword with some slight variations. Often, the main topic will include three to five main talking points. So, it makes sense to use a handful of secondary keywords.

Additional keywords are other related keywords spelled or phrased differently from the first two but have the same meaning as our iPhone example above. It is a catch-all net to get different variations of your primary keyword and try to rank for one or all of them. You can also include long-tail keywords in this category. 

Typically, it would be three to eight total, according to the content length. It breaks down to one primary keyword, one to three secondary keywords, and one to four additional keywords. It would give you a good chance to start ranking for one of them and then offer you the opportunity to reoptimize.

Using over eight or so keywords, assuming that you don't have either irrationally long content or exceedingly short content, can come off as spam. It is incredibly tough to incorporate several keywords for SEO into the content naturally and is unnecessary. You will find that related keywords will automatically and naturally come up when writing the piece based on a few great keywords. Doing more than this would hurt your readability and stick out to readers and Google page crawlers.

Where should you use your keywords? 

While it is easy to say "you need to add keywords for SEO," implementing it is an entirely different matter. There are some rules and practices for adding keywords to a sire to make sure your SEO efforts are worthwhile. Here are some tips for inserting keywords into your content:

Add Keywords in Meta Description

This is one of the most basic ways to add keywords for SEO. However, people often overlook it. The meta description is a simple summary to describe the content. Placing the keyword there helps Google to filter your results better. It is a powerful way to get one or two of your most important keywords attached to the part of your web page that is directly served up by search engines. For the unversed, a meta description is a 160-character or 20 to 25 words description of what your page is all about. It is a description that is displayed under a page name and URL when users search for a keyword phrase on Google.

Add Keywords in SEO Title Tag

It is about your SEO title page and not your main article tag. It is also known as a meta title tag. The title tag is similar to the meta description, the page's name that users will see on SERPs when they search for a keyword phrase. It will be clickable and will take users directly to your web page. Like meta descriptions, you only have about 50 to 60 characters to use when writing your SEO title tag. Ensure your title tag is your primary keyword and your company name. It is the most user-friendly, SEO-friendly, and concise way to execute it. 

keyword management and seo optimization.

Add Keywords in the First 200 Words

Many experts believe that Google emphasizes the first 200 words of content. Usually, the first 100 to 200 words of an article is where content writers introduce what will be discussed. Since most readers only continue in an article if the introduction is good, it stands to reason that it could also be a ranking factor. 

Google examines the first 200 words of content; it is important to ensure that you put your primary keyword within the first paragraph or sentence, if possible, without compromising content quality. Similarly, you can also use at least one secondary keyword in the first 200 words; however, not in the first sentence. 

Remember that Google tries to get an overview of what your article is about. Be sure to lead Google to the keywords you wish to focus on and not confuse it when optimizing your content for keywords. Your primary keyword should be present in all the important places, followed by your secondary keywords and then your other additional keywords. 

Add Keywords Naturally Throughout the Article

In an SEO-focused digital era, it is easy to forget that your readers come first. Never compromise your readability with bad keyword placement in your content. One way you can naturally add keywords is to utilize stop words in your writing. You can add these words within keyword phrases to help your readers read more naturally without decreasing their ranking value.

For example, if you had a keyword phrase you were targeting that reads "best startups India," there is no way you can insert it into your article exactly without it either looking like a blatant keyword insertion or a typo. The better way to add SEO keywords is to use a stop word in that phrase. You can add the stop word "in," making it read "best startups in India," which can be more easily and naturally inserted into your writing. 

What is Keyword Clustering?

Keyword clustering is the process of clustering keywords into themes that are relevant to your website pages. A single cluster includes a core topic and several related subtopics, which support and point back to the core topic. This allows you to target many keywords per page, rather than only one or two keywords, creating additional opportunities for content to be found online.

Search engines look very favorably upon websites using keyword clustering because it allows them to:

  • Make connections between pages, or detect semantic relationships between pieces of content
  • Recognize your content as a trusted authority worthy of a top spot.
keyword research

When you take the time to organize your keywords into clusters, it makes it easier for search engines to discover related content, too. This is because you improve your site architecture with clusters, which in turn allows you to boost your search engine visibility. When you target multiple keywords and phrases, rather than just focusing on a single one, this allows the website to set up more reach and better visibility by enhancing its ranking and traffic. Keyword clustering also compels a company or brand to study their website in-depth and create content that is more extensive and thorough. This leads to higher quality content, which leads to improved user experience.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the practice of saturating a page with keywords to try and increase that page's ranking in search results on search engines like Google and Bing. These keywords can appear in a few areas, including within content, in separate lists, and more. When people first started using SEO, search engines weren't sophisticated enough to filter the reputable sites from the ones that just wanted traffic. That's why people began spamming keywords all over their websites. It got them traffic while they cheated the system. Today that doesn't work anymore.

Search engines can tell when someone's spamming keywords on a site, and they actively penalize those sites in search results. Don't feel tempted by keyword stuffing. It will hurt your website, traffic, and business.

Now, let's summarize why keyword stuffing is problematic:

importance of a keyword and seo strategy.
  1. Keyword stuffing isn't user-friendly: When you stuff keywords into your content, it sounds inhuman. People won't read your content because it's difficult to read. If they can't read your content, they won't stay on your site, which will decrease your rankings further.
  2. Keyword stuffing is penalized: Web crawlers will notice that you're overusing certain keywords. This is a red flag that leads to a penalty. Google penalties range from demoting a page in search results to banning your whole site from Google's index. If you do a lot of business online, you can lose a lot of customers.
  3. Keyword stuffing isn't shareable: Keyword-filled content isn't shareable, so if you're writing a blog post or article, no one will want to share it. Social media can play a huge role in getting your business noticed, so it's essential to create content that people like so you can build your brand.

Now that you know why keyword stuffing doesn't work, let's discuss how you can avoid it.

How to avoid keyword stuffing

If you want to avoid keyword stuffing, you just have to write text for your website like you're writing an email. Be direct, use concise language, and get to the point quickly. You may not use the keyword 30 times on a page, but that's okay; you want people to be able to read it easily. Both Google and your site visitors will appreciate the fact that you're writing for human readers, as opposed to search engine crawlers. And when you do, they'll show your page in search engine results pages (SERPs) much more often than a site that stuffs keywords.

Importance of Keyword Density in Your SEO Strategy

Keywords are a critical part of your SEO strategy. Along with relevant content and optimized website design, ranking for the right keywords helps your site stand out from the crowd — and get closer to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). It's no surprise that a substantial amount of SEO advice centers on keywords: Doing your research can help you select and rank for top-performing keywords in your market, in turn boosting user engagement and increasing total sales.

Why? Because keywords drive searches. When users go looking for products or services, they'll typically use a keyword that reflects their general intent and expect search engines to serve up relevant results.

While tools like Google now take into account factors such as geographical area and page authority; defined in part by the number of visitors to your webpage and in part by "do follow" links from reputable sites that link back to your page — keywords remain a critical factor in website success.

If you're currently struggling with receiving organic traffic or not getting qualified leads from your traffic, you may not have the proper keyword strategy. Universal Creative Solutions offers strategy consulting to help you re-evaluate your existing SEO strategy and leverage the right keywords into your content marketing. Schedule a consultation call and let us help you generate more traffic and leads from SEO.