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:
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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.
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