The Ideal Keyword Density for Ranking

When we look at search engine optimization (SEO), we can see that keywords are a vital part of every strategy. With the right implementation, keywords will improve the ranking on search engine result pages (SERP). Without them, the webpage will be unable to rank. If you use them the wrong way, it can even lead to penalties. This is why we need to understand keyword density significance. In theory, keyword density can help you leverage your website on-page optimization. However, the ideal density is a relative term when it comes to keywords. Since many search engine ranking algorithms are changing over the years, the concept of ideal keyword density for rankings is different than it used to be. It might not impact your SEO the way you expect, especially in the post-Panda world.

The ideal keyword density theory

You can find many resources and tips about SEO. Among them, various experts are discussing the ideal density of keywords throughout the page. Some will claim that the perfect range is somewhere between 1-2%, while others will go as high as to 5%. The truth is, everyone is making assumptions based on their personal opinions. This leads to the conclusion that no one is definitely sure about the perfect percentage.

A monitor with search terms when you browse.
There is a lot going on “under the hood” when we search terms in browsers.

To prevent abuse and exploitation from various parties, the exact information is kept secret. However, everyone is right when they say that keyword density is important. Not so much as it used to be, but it still plays an important role. Does it affect Google rankings? The answer is both yes and no. Maybe not in a simple way that will make it a major ranking factor, as we would expect. But, in combination with other elements like the quality of content, user experience, and such, it makes a website more relevant.

Keyword – what is it?

Let’s say something about what the keyword is. In general, it can be a single word or a certain combination of words in which the meaning of the content is defined. For the website, those words are keys that help search engines connect the page with the relevant terms. The better the optimization is in general, the higher the page will rank when users are searching for a term. For example, if you have a business like pet-shop in Miami, the keyword for your website’s homepage will probably be something like “best pet shop in Miami”.

So, what is a keyword density?

Simply put, it’s the number of times the keyword is showing on a page, or in the article. It’s usually a percentage that represents the frequency of the keyword in relation to the number of all words. This density, it’s something search engines use to determine the relevance of the page or the article.

A laptop with various tools on a desktop.
You can find plenty of available tools online to help you with SEO.

How to calculate the keyword density?

Calculating the percentage of keyword density is nothing hard. In essence, you take the number of times the keyword appears on the page and divide it by the sum of all words on a particular page. Finally, you multiply the given number by 100 and the result is the percentage number. For example, if some page has 1500 words, and the keyword is showing 30 times, then the keyword density, in this case, would be 2%.

“(30 / 1500) * 100 = 2” where the final result is a percentage (%).

“(number of times keyword repeats / sum of all words) * 100 = percentage result”

Of course, this can be a tremendous work to do for websites that have a lot of content. Or, if you need to manage multiple Google Business accounts, for example. In that case, you can use one of the keyword density checker tools from websites like:

  • Smallseotools.com
  • Seoreviewtools.com
  • Webconfs.com
  • Prepostseo.com
  • Tools.seobook.com
  • Thehoth.com
  • Seocentro.com

This is the listing of just some of the best keyword density checker tools in 2020, that can help you analyze the keyword density of your webpage.

Is there an ideal keyword density?

Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to this question. Search engines do not publicly announce the right number. So, it’s up to you and specialists to try to find the best practices. However, most people believe that this number is somewhere between 1-2%. This is, probably, the safest range you should use in most cases. If you use less, you risk low ranking. If you use more, search engines might interpret it as “keyword stuffing” and issue a penalty to the page.

Here are a few “agreed assumptions” experts are collecting over years:

  • There is no “one percentage fits all” to rank high
  • Ideal keyword density, or optimal, can differ from page to page
  • Natural content with a few keywords is probably the best practice
  • Repeating or “keyword stuffing” is considered a bad practice
  • The focus should be on creating high-quality and engaging content

What is keyword stuffing?

At first, when SEO was still a relatively young term, keyword stuffing was widely spread and popular technique. Filling the text, content, and web-pages with keywords was simply overwhelming. Given that this practice produced plenty of unnatural and awkward content, user experience was terrible.

Traffic sign “stop” as a warning.
People should stop using bad practices, they can only hurt the ranking.

Today, this process of repeating the same keyword over and over again, finally came to an end. Since search engines are, even now, implementing advanced AI algorithms to help with ranking, stuffing is obsolete. Even if someone continues to do it, it’s counterproductive. Overall, you should focus on better user experience and quality content to improve your ranking.

To conclude, many experts are saying that there is no ideal keyword density, and search engines agree. Instead of focusing on keyword density as a sheer percentage, optimization should be oriented toward general quality. This means, creative content, the usefulness of information, and better user experience are the future. However, even though keyword density is a remnant of old optimization techniques, it still has its values. Eventually, you can use it as a marginal value to avoid bad practice, like stuffing. Also, you can focus on using varieties, like long-tail keywords, LSI keywords, and such. Which, in the long-term can lead to better results, and better ranking, after all.

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