Introduction to Keyword Density
Search engine optimization has always put emphasis on Keywords; however with the ever changing and evolving algorithm of the search engines (Google in particular), is it really worth to consider keyword density or not?
My answer is yes and no.
Should we mind?
The fact is in the quest of Google for more and more quality content and less and less spam, the algorithm takes less and less consideration of specific keywords but rather the general relevancy of the content as a whole.
Another speculation towards this conclusion is also the fact that whoever was to write an article for readers will actually meet the required density almost naturally.
Does it really hurt to focus on it or not?
No, it doesn’t hurt, at least not directly. The obvious downside is clearly the waste of time spent on something that is done naturally through your genuine writing. Now on the other hand, for all the other aspects of your optimization (beside the main content of your page), keyword density does play a role. Indeed people must be aware that not optimizing a site will get you unnoticed, however thanks to their new algorithm, one should not over-optimize if he or she doesn’t want to be penalized.
The truth is that abuse of keywords will hardly ever come from your main content, but rather from the optimization of all the other factors on your page. This is particularly applicable for these elements:
- Page title
- Meta Tags
- Meta Description
- Images Description
- Headers Tags
I said particularly applicable, which means that because I didn’t list an element here doesn’t mean that it’s not important. To put it simple, it is the same for all the elements of your page.
What is the right percentage?
The difficulty with keyword density is that there’s no magic number! That’s right, the keyword density is a relative value constantly fluctuating as it is usually drawn from the top 10 websites of your keyword. However, the formula itself is simple to understand for the people who are willing to spend some time on it.
Title Density Calculation
If you want to make sure that your density is satisfying for your specific search term, here’s the process:
For this example, we’ll assume that I want to check the keyword density of my page title “Keyword Density by Nicolas Prudhon” for the search term “Keyword Density”.
- Make a Google search of your keyword term, let’s say “Keyword Density”.
- Write down all the 10 page titles.
- Count how many words in your page title. In our case 5 words.
- Count how many times you use your keyword. In our case 1 time.
- Do the same for each page title of your top 10 competitors. The count varies from 2-12 words.
So what do we get from those numbers:
If we make the ration of our keyword and page title length, the keyword density for our search term is:
- Keyword Density: 40
- Density: 20 and 100 and 40 and 50%
The next step is to compare your competitors’ ratios and yours.
- If your density is lower than your competition, you should consider removing some text to increase your keyword density or the search engine may not consider your page as sufficiently relevant.
- If your density is within the range, you are doing a good job.
- If your density is above your competitors, it’s a warning! Consider adding more text to decrease your density, or you’ll be facing the risk to be considered as spamming through over-optimization and may get penalized.
In our case, we are passing the density test.
The same concepts and method applies to each and every element of your website. For the people who still give much importance to the keyword density, I recommend to try to achieve a median ratio, rather than being close to an extreme side; simply because as I mentioned earlier, it’s a fluctuating ratio depending on which site is in the top ten. Playing the average and being in the middle should give you some flexibility.
Nicolas Prudhon is a SEO Strategist with over 10 years of experience, as well as a published author. In his spare time he enjoys folding