Like many things in the world of SEO, keyword density is a highly debated topic – especially in the wake of these online Panda updates. With all the sites that have been hit with less traffic, people are scrambling for ways to better optimize their content.
The way I like to see it, keyword density is still an important part of copywriting but not in a way that it was say… 10 years ago. Instead of focusing on hitting an “ideal” percentage, keyword density should be a measure of how you shouldn’t over optimize your content. For example, if you have a 200 word blurb about dog shoes and the word “dog shoes” is mentioned 20 times… you’re going to have a problem with natural readability and you don’t need a percentage to tell you that.
SEObook’s free keyword density analyzer tool is a good place to start when looking at your own content, as well as your competitors’. You can view percentages for individual pages based on repeating keywords and even phrases up to 3 words long. But remember, even in Google’s own words, your keyword density percentage shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re doing what you should be doing in the first place – optimizing for the user.
Some common sense ways are to search and highlight keywords you’re optimizing for on a single page. If you feel there are too many highlights, you’re probably right. Depending on the length, you can cut back when necessary. If you have a good 5 paragraphs, is it really necessary to mention an exact match keyword more than 5 times? Are you stuffing with other keywords such as location terms? With effective writing for SEO content, variation and synonyms are more important than repeatedly matching the exact term on the same page (and throughout your site for that matter).
This is all about building a “natural” link profile, or at least what Google perceives to be natural. One thing is for sure though, when you are too focused on the technical aspects of your content, it will reflect in your writing. Customers can tell and search engines can also get a sense of this and your site will suffer. The key takeaway is to use keyword density as an informative tool, not as a guideline to measure or gauge your ranking success.
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.