The Great Keyword Density Hoax

I see an awful lot of bad advice in some of the forums I visit – advice that, at best, will deliver no benefit and at worst may be harmful.

One such is on the question of keyword density, and the advice I see so often is to have a density of anywhere between 2% and 5% in your articles.

It makes me want to tear my hair out, because it’s a myth that appears to have eternal life.

Ignore it!

Don’t take it from me, though, listen to Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz:

Despite being proven untrue time and again, this farce has legs, and indeed, many SEO tools feed on the concept that keyword density is an important metric. It’s not.

And hear it direct from Google’s Matt Cutts, where he says that using keywords too many times will have a negative impact:

I’ve said it on this site time and time again: write for people, not the search engines.

It’s people that will link to your site (which will do more for your SEO than keyword density ever will) and people who will buy your stuff. Not the search engines.

Title and Description tags

Where keywords are important is in the Title tag, and they’re important here as much for people (again) as for the search engines.

This is because if you choose a keyword wisely and get it into your Title tag it will be bolded in the search results when someone types it in as a query.

That would make it a keyword-optimised Title tag and give it a better chance of attracting the searcher’s attention.

In order to craft a keyword-optimised Title tag you first need to know what terms people are using to find what you’re writing about.

The quickest and easiest way to see what people are searching for is to go to Google and start to type in a query that’s relevant to your article. As you type, the wording of previous searches drops down:

Google search page screen shot

The more letters or words you type the more focused the previous searches will become. These are queries the other people have typed into Google, so they tell you what people are searching for.

Of course, you can use a keyword tool (this is a good one), but if you don’t have one of those just typing your keyword into Google will bring you those results.

So pick one of them that best suits the message of your article, and use that in your Title tag.

You can also include it in your Description tag, even though the search engines don’t use keywords in this tag in their ranking algorithms.

And, finally, it’s good to include your keyword in headings and sub-headings.

But don’t stuff it into your body text! Just write that normally.

So please: ignore keyword density in your articles!

Pay attention to keywords in your Title and Description tags, and make sure the other aspects of on-page SEO are in place.

And then write for people, not the search engines!


Martin Malden

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