Arguments have been going on for years when it comes to SEO. There are over 200 factors that go into ranking in the SERPs. Google is very secretive when it comes to their search algorithms. Because of this, a lot of debates are created. One common debate involves this question.
“What is good keyword density for Google to rank?”
Here’s the thing. I’m going to squash this question right now. You can rank a page without keyword density. The fact is, you don’t even want to completely focus on one keyword. Your content as a whole get’s indexed. This means that one 2,000 word post could rank for 100’s of keywords that you might not have ever thought of without even realizing it.
Today we will dive into this long debated myth. What it is and the proximity of where keywords should be placed, if anywhere.
What Is Keyword Density
It only takes some simple math to figure out this equation. Keyword Density is the number of keywords divided by the amount of words on any given page. For example, If my keyword was “baseball players” and I plugged it into my article 10 times on a 1,000 word article. You would take the 10 times divided by the 1,000 words to equal 1% percent Keyword Density for the article.
Keyword Density Used To Be Good For Page Rankings
A long time ago Keyword density was an important factor for grabbing those “top page” results (Some will still argue it still is an important factor). Times have changed though. People exploited this factor and took advantage to rank high in the SERPs. Instead of writing naturally, people would make their articles sound more robotic by focusing on keeping the density at a certain percentage. For example;
“If you ever want to be a great Baseball player you should get coaching for baseball from an experienced baseball coach that used to play baseball. Baseball players will learn best from baseball coaches because typically baseball coaches use to play baseball. Luckily, I know a variety of baseball coaches that will teach you how to be a better baseball player.”
Looking at the above, doesn’t it sound a little robotic? Maybe you have seen this type of article before. It’s not exactly something you would enjoy reading. Right? People use to think that the higher keyword density the better they would rank. Google would think it’s more relevant because of the high percentage of that specific keyword. Of course, Google is a robot in it’s own sense so it would be understandable to think this way.
In my opinion, this kind of stuff would make me skip to another website. It’s just annoying and repetitive. Google also understood that identifying keywords was not the best way to give consumers accurate search results. They are are always trying to create the best user experience for the consumer. So, they changed some of the ranking factors to help. With some of the updates, like Hummingbird, Google created a better understanding of the context and other related words.
If you typed in apple, Google would probably give you results of the fruit. However, you also have Apple as a tech company. So now if you typed in “apple recipes”. Google would now understand, based on the context, that you are looking for things related to eating apples certain ways instead of the tech company. “Recipe” creates that relation in the context. This is how Google changed their updates. Making an article with a 20% percent keyword density of apple would not mean it’s relevant to the user because the same word can have different meanings.
How Does Keyword Density Effect The SERPS
Some will argue if you can find the ideal percentage you will rank well. If you placed the keyword too many times; you are hurting your rankings. If you don’t make it dense enough this will also hurt your rankings. This is not completely true. Yes, a 20% percent density will hurt you, but there is no ideal keyword density, and having virtually no density does not mean you won’t rank at all.
Take the below image for example. If you were to type in “miserable failure” into Google’s search engine. You would find the below website on the top page results. However, the phrase isn’t even placed anywhere on the page.
If keyword density was an important factor then this page should be no where close to the top results. Don’t get me wrong, you should be placing your keywords in your article, but the point is there are much more important things in SEO to determine your rankings.
If your whole website is about “Baseball” and then one day you decide to write a post about a recipe to make apple cider. It doesn’t matter how close you get to an “ideal keyword density”. The page won’t rank because it’s not relevant to anything else on your website, and Google will take note of that.
Write For People, Not Search Engines
Every year Google tries to make the user experience better by giving you articles that are more conversational. It’s better to talk to a person than a robot. Wouldn’t you agree? You want to read articles the same way you talk to your friends. Focusing too hard on density will distract you from writing your article to the best of your ability, and can make it seem awkward for the viewers.
In the end, if you cant keep the readers attention it doesn’t matter how well you write for the search engines. You want Google to notice you, but Google isn’t who pays you. It’s the people that will make you money if your content is high enough quality for them to trust you to purchase products, services, etc… through your links.
Focusing too much attention on SEO can actually hurt your progress and development of your website. Always write naturally. If you do, most of the time you will have already added your desired keywords to your post by the time you start editing. Don’t believe me? On your next article, Figure out which keyword you want to use. Place it once in the first paragraph and then write naturally the rest of the way. Comment below and tell me if you wrote your keyword more than once without thinking about it.
Best Way To Place Keywords
So, obviously by this point I’ve basically told you to dismiss keyword density as being an important factor. Now, you may be wondering how you should go about putting keywords in your post. Honestly, it’s very simple. People will hear search engine optimization and keyword density together and go nuts thinking that there is some secret sauce behind the two. There isn’t.
If you can only place the keyword once to make your article sound natural then that is all you need. If you place keywords a dozen times and your article reads naturally then that is perfect as well. There are a few places I will recommend you to place your keywords. You don’t even need to place it everywhere I tell you. This is just a simple guideline for you. You should;
Make sure the keyword is in the title of the post
Make sure the keyword is in the permalink (part of the URL that directs you to a specific webpage)
Place the keyword in at least one alt tag in an image (Your first imagine would be the best place)
Place the keyword in your H1/H2 headlines
Try to place the keyword in your first paragraph (if you can’t;don’t force it)
Make sure content reads naturally with your personality doing the talking (Not some robot)
Lastly, Don’t obsess over the density (This is wasted energy that could’ve been used for more important task)
If you can only get the keyword in the title and first paragraph; the page will still rank highly for your keyword providing you met the other SEO factors (page speed, relevance, responsive themes, etc…).
Keywords Are Important, But Keyword Density Is Not
People stress out all the time when it comes to SEO. We want our websites to rank very well and are always trying figure out the best solution. Keyword density is not the correct solution. Focus more on the proximity and prominence (location of keywords) of keywords than the actual density. I have pages that rank highly with a 0.5% percent density. So, I know first hand that I don’t need to stuff a bunch of keywords into my articles.
Even Matt Cutts, a former official representative of Google, said for years not to obsess over keyword density. I believe this is saying something about the importance of this SEO factor. Be sure to always do keyword research. This will help you immensely when it comes to ranking highly.
Need more answers? Leave comments below. I’m sure some of you will disagree with what I’m saying here. Tell me your arguments. Why is keyword density important to you? Or do you agree with what I’m saying? Let me know.
Brandon is the founder of Lifeless Wallet. Created in 2015, Brandon built this website to save people money by exposing scams and to teach people how to make Real money online. On his free time, he enjoys sports, hiking, and traveling the world. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.