- Published: Nov 15, 2019
- Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024
- 9 min. read
Macy StormSenior Content Creator
- Macy is a marketing writer with over five years of experience creating content for dozens of industries including food and beverage, home services, and education. She also specializes in creating SEO and PPC content. Her work has been featured by Search Engine Journal, HubSpot, Entrepreneur, Clutch, and more. In her free time, Macy enjoys trying new crafts and reading comic books.
What is keyword density?
Keyword density refers to the percentage of times a specific keyword appears in a piece of content, which helps search engines understand its relevance and rank it accordingly.
Keyword density is the number of times you use a target keyword on a webpage in relation to the total number of words on page. When you opt for a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you’ll find that keywords are a crucial part of your campaign. As you integrate keywords on your page, it’s essential to ensure you’re not overusing your key terms, which can lower your rankings in search results on Google.
Keyword density plays a vital role in helping your pages rank properly in the search results.
On this page, we’ll answer the question “What is keyword density?” and provide you with four best practices for optimizing your keyword density. To learn more about optimizing keyword density, check out our SEO guide for marketing managers.
What is SEO keyword density?
The keyword density definition is the number of times a keyword appears on a webpage. Whether you add a new page to your site or write a blog post, keyword density is crucial to helping your page rank properly in the search results.
Keyword density, also known as keyword frequency, is relevant to monitor to ensure you’re creating a balance between using a keyword often enough to rank, but not too often that it hurts your ranking.
How is keyword density calculated?
When you calculate keyword density, you’ll calculate the ratio percentage of the keyword to your overall word count. To calculate keyword density, follow this formula:
Number of times keyword is mentioned / Total number of words on the page = Keyword density
To find keyword density, you’ll take the number of times you’ve mentioned your keyword on your page and divide it by the total number of words on the page. You can turn this ratio into a percentage by multiplying your result by 100. As an example, let’s say you write an article that’s 1500 words long and uses your key phrase 20 times. Your keyword density formula looks like this:
20/1500= .013 x 100 = 1.3%
In this case, your keyword density is 1.3%.
So, that brings us to your next question.
What is the ideal keyword density?
When you’re calculating your keyword density, you want to know that it’s a good ratio for the page. The truth, however, is there is no set optimal keyword density for every page.
If you research optimal keyword density, you’ll get a lot of answers.
Some experts will tell you between 0.5% and 0.8%. Other sites will say anywhere between 0.5% and 2.5% is acceptable. If you want to hit your ideal keyword density, it will take some trial and error.
You’ll generally want to stay below 3%. From that point, you must test your pages to see what keyword density works best for your business and helps you in the rankings.
What is keyword stuffing?
When we talk about keyword density, we can’t discuss it without mentioning keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the over usage of keywords on a page.
It occurs when writers try to fit as many keywords as possible into a webpage in hopes of helping it rank better for that keyword. Pages with keyword stuffing often use the keyword in forced and unnatural phrasing. It’s essential to understand keyword stuffing because it harms your SEO.
Google will punish your site for overusing a keyword to try and boost rankings. This process is considered a black hat SEO technique, which goes against Google’s standards. To avoid keyword stuffing and negatively impacting your ranking in the search results, test your optimal keyword density.
Try using keywords more or less often to find the right keyword density that helps you rank and doesn’t punish you for using a keyword too often on the page.
4 best practices for nailing your Google keyword density
If you’re ready to start hitting your optimal keyword density, check out these four tips.
1. Write for your audience first
To be successful with finding the ideal keyword density, start by writing for your audience first. Many companies make the mistake of trying to write to help their content rank in search engines. Instead of focusing on writing for search engines, focus on creating content for your audience.
When you focus on writing for search engines, you’re more likely to stuff keywords into your page. If you focus on writing for your audience, you’ll naturally write with a more conversational tone and use your keywords naturally where they fit, instead of trying to force them into your content. Search engines are smart enough to know when your pages provide your audience with a positive experience.
Google cares about serving your audience the best content, so why not create content that’s written for them? When you write for your audience, you’ll write more naturally. Natural language processing allows you to write for the user and avoid black-hat techniques that negatively impact your SEO.
Essentially, you write content as if you’re saying it out loud to your audience. You’ll integrate keywords naturally into your text instead of forcing yourself to incorporate the keywords. Even if your keyword density is too low, you can always go back and add your keyword in places where it fits naturally!
By focusing on the user experience and creating content geared to your audience, integrating your keywords will come naturally. It’s a great practice to help you avoid having a high Google keyword density.
2. Place your keywords in the right place
When you’re focusing on your keyword density, you must put your keyword in certain areas to ensure your page will rank in the search results. For example, integrating your keyword solely into the body text won’t help your page reach its full ranking potential. There are numerous vital places to integrate your keyword, including:
When you write your content, you want to ensure you include your keyword in your headers. Your keyword should always appear at the beginning of your H1 tag. This placement helps Google understand the context of your page and properly rank it in the search results.
You’ll also want to use your H2 tags as an opportunity to place keywords, too. Google uses headers to help understand your page better so you can rank in the search results. As you write the content on your page, use your keyword at the beginning and end of your article.
You can use it in the middle, too, but you must use it at the beginning and end to help Google understand your page better. You’ll also want to add your keywords to your title tag and meta description. This integration ensures that your site appears in relevant search results.
Lastly, you’ll want to use your keyword in your URL. Google uses your URL to help determine the context of your page. By integrating your keyword into the URL, you’ll improve your site ranking.
3. Use variations of your keyword
To help you reach your optimal keyword density, and still rank for relevant search results, use variations of your keyword. This process is one of the most important aspects of keyword integration that helps you rank in relevant results without having a high keyword density. To avoid keyword stuffing, you can use keywords that are similar to your core keyword but vary slightly.
These closely related terms don’t count towards your keyword density, but help you rank in similar results. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the keyword “cheap hotels,” changing the city each time isn’t a good keyword variance. It will still look spammy to Google to see “cheap hotels in Boston,” “cheap hotels in Philadelphia,” and “cheap hotels in Los Angeles.” Instead, you’ll want to try keywords like “affordable hotels” or “budget-friendly hotels.” These keywords have the same meaning as “cheap hotels,” but aren’t that exact keyword.
If you used these keyword variations, you’d help your site rank for “cheap hotels,” but also for these other keywords. To keep your keyword density at an ideal position, use keyword variations. It will help you rank in relevant search results without overstuffing your site with your core keyword.
4. Test your keyword density often
If you want to get a better handle on your ideal keyword density, test your pages. You don’t want to assume that your Google keyword density will work every time you publish a page. It’s essential to check your keyword usage to help you reach the optimal keyword density for your page.
To help you test your keyword density, start by testing how a page currently performs. Check your metrics and ranking to see if the current keyword density positively or negatively impacts your ranking. After checking your metrics, you can test these pages to see how they change if you add more keywords or reduce your keyword density.
With Google Analytics, you can track your traffic before and after you add keywords to your site. It will help you see if these changes positively impact your ranking, so you can perform better in the search results. You can also use Google Search Console to check your position in Google search results, which can help you evaluate the performance of your changes.
Start reaching your optimal keyword density today
Your question, “What is keyword density,” is now answered!
Keyword density is a crucial component of SEO. If you want to rank in the search results, you must balance the integration of your keywords to ensure you’re using them often enough. By optimizing your keyword density, you’ll help your pages rank better and drive more valuable traffic to your site.
If you aren’t sure how to properly optimize for keyword density or want to learn more about keyword density meaning, our team at WebFX can help.
We’re a full-service digital marketing company that specializes in SEO services. Our team of over 500 experts will help you optimize your Google keyword density to help your pages rank better in the search results. Ready to optimize your pages?
Macy is a marketing writer with over five years of experience creating content for dozens of industries including food and beverage, home services, and education. She also specializes in creating SEO and PPC content. Her work has been featured by Search Engine Journal, HubSpot, Entrepreneur, Clutch, and more. In her free time, Macy enjoys trying new crafts and reading comic books.
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