Keyword density—anyone who is into the SEO campaign knows what these two words stand for and recognizes the fact that this is one of the most talked about topics in the SEO world. There’s only one reason for this: keyword density is the basis of a successful SEO campaign.
For those of you who are new to SEO, keyword density is the percentage of how many times a keyword or a key phrase appears on a page in comparison to the total number of words on the page. Keywords are key concepts (without which, SEO would never even exist) in SEO copywriting, but keyword density is the “rule.”
Most information on keyword density recommends always maintaining a percentage of between 3 and 5. However, not everyone seems to have the same success with this neat little rule. So, really, does keyword density affect your page ranking? Does higher density also mean higher page ranking? Or is this formula simply a myth?
The Truth about the Keyword Density Formula
Keyword density can be computed as number of words in the article divided by the density required. So in a 500 word text with the goal of 5% keyword density, your formula would be 500 x .005 = 2.5. So you would need to use the keyword 2 or 3 times to get about a 5% density.
You can also take the total number of times a keyword appears in the text, multiply it by the number of words in your keyword phrase, divide this by the total number of words on the page, and then multiply by 100. If your keyword is “brochure printing,” and it appears 5 times within a text of 350 words, then your formula would be (5 x 2/ 350) x 100 = 2.95. Your keyword density for this page is then about 3%.
A lot of SEO professionals have been using these Keyword density formula to optimize their web pages for content, but very few seem to actually make it on top of the list. Why is this so?
Let’s do an experiment. Pull up your preferred search engine. Type in your keyword or key phrase and hit search. Check out the first five sites that are listed. Do all of the sites contain the same keyword density? The answer is a big NO. You might notice that each site has a different keyword density over the other, perhaps higher or lower. What does this say about the magic formula for keyword density?
If the keyword density formula is indeed true, then the first five sites that turned up on your search should have the same keyword density. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
All Men Are Equal but Key Phrases/ Words are Not
When using a keyword or phrase, you have to first think of how many other sites will be using the same keyword as yours, i.e. the keyword’s competitiveness. For instance, if you’re going to use “SEO articles” for your key phrase, then you are actually using a very competitive key phrase because a lot of sites may be using the same phrase as their keyword.
However, if you use a more specific key phrase like “SEO articles written by Mark Zuckerberg” then that’s not very competitive and the ONLY site that uses that ONLY key phrase will likely turn out on top of the list.
One of the keys to getting the most out of keywords and key phrases is to choose the less competitive ones, at least at first. It will take a very aggressive campaign to beat out the big dogs who have nearly unlimited time and resources in their SEO campaigns, but you could easily get your site on top of the Google list by using keywords that are still relevant but less competitive.
Location, Location, Location
Where you put your keywords is aptly important in building a strong optimized website. There is a lot of talk that keywords that have special formatting (bold, bulleted, italicized, tags, and others) attract more web spiders than those who do not. Again, performing the same experiment that we did on keyword density, if all of these special formatting rules matter, then the first five sites on the list should have their keywords specially formatted. Interestingly enough, they don’t.
So Should You Consider Keyword Density in SEO?
The answer to this question is “yes, with strings attached.” Any successful SEO professional would tell you to never rely on keyword density and special formatting alone. However, in combination with meta tags, deep linking, multiple domains, and more, the keyword density formula will aid you in a successful SEO campaign. So, go ahead. Follow the keyword rule. But don’t let this single part of SEO be your only effort. Take a class or read plenty of expert articles, and then put keyword density in its rightful place: alongside the numerous ways to effectively optimize your website.
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