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What Is Keyword Density?

Google Keyword

Updated 6 February 2017 – originally published 2011
You may have heard that you need to be concerned about keyword density. What is it?

Keyword density is a measurement of the percentage of occurrences of a given keyword (or phrase) on a page out of all the words on a page. For example, if you have a page about “blue widgets”, then the keyword density of “blue widgets” would be the calculated by a fraction with the number of occurrences of “blue widgets” as the numerator and the number of other words on the page as the denominator.

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Type the phrase “keyword density” into Google and you’ll find many tools to help you measure it. Part of the output from one keyword density tool looks like this:

sample keyword density tool output

From this output you can see that the most prominent keyword phrase in our Google’s Featured Snippets study is some variation of “feature snippets.”

You can use a tool like this to see what type of keyword density you have on your page. Note that different tools measure this a bit differently. For example, some tools consider keywords in your keyword metatags and description metatag. The SEOBook tool I linked above lets you exclude those and other page elements if you want.

Now that you have measured it, how much does it matter?

Not much, really. At Perficient Digital, we don’t spend any time discussing keyword density with our clients. The only time it might matter is if you suspect keyword stuffing is happening (where a page deliberately over-repeats a keyword it’s trying to rank for), and this is not something we advise people to do.

We find that focusing on good content and great incoming links is where our energy is best spent. The only time we worry about keyword density is if we see a page that has implemented its main keyword so much that it begins to interfere with the user experience, which is probably similar to what Google looks for in pages it suspects of being spam.

In his Moz Blog post “It’s Time to Stop Doing SEO Like It’s 2012,” Rand Fishkin backs this up, noting that these days Google is far more concerned with the quality, relevance, and thoroughness of content on a page than with how many times a keyword is used. He says,

Yes, it’s still wise to use the keyword that searchers type into Google in your title, your description, and on the page. But repetition-based rules are not gonna boost your rankings, and may inhibit your usability and content quality, which have far greater impacts.

Want to go deeper with improving your site’s SEO? Take the next step!

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Thoughts on “What Is Keyword Density?”

  1. Keywords density is still quite important, despite hummingbird, Rankbrain etc… Just don’t let you self thinking what others said. I made some test and I can easily prove keywords density still matters.

  2. Wow, Excellent post. This article is really very interesting and effective. I think its must be helpful for us. Thanks for sharing your informative. Take Care

  3. Thanks for sharing great information in your blog. I was doing keyword density calculations today and noticed this blog post. I also use same KWD tool as in screenshot. After analyzing a few niches in Finland I found that 1-1,5 % KWD works best in many cases. Do you have thoughts that is it same in English websites too?

  4. My bet is that this is something that is market dependent, content dependent, and changes on a regular basis.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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