What should my SEO Keyword Density Be?

Written by: Jason Bayless | February 23, 2015

When creating a piece of content that you hope others will find online, it is important to target relevant keywords. These keywords are the words that searchers will type into search engines when they are looking for information on a particular topic. The closer that your keywords match up with what people are looking for, the more relevant your content will be to them and the more targeted your traffic will be.

How Many Times Should I Use the Same Keyword?

You should strive to use a keyword no more than one to three times for every 100 words of text, which comes out to about 1 to 3 percent density. However, you do not always have to place your keywords 100 words apart from each other. In fact, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to go over that limit if the word fits in the text naturally. The 1 to 3 percent density rule is mostly to keep you from stuffing keywords or using the same words over and over again, which could detract from the quality of your content.

What Is Keyword Stuffing and Why Is it Bad?

Keyword stuffing is the act of repeatedly using a targeted keyword in the hopes that search engines will see your site as a match for those words. This practice used to be popular before Google and other search engines put formulas in place to analyze keyword density and differentiate between shallow and useful content. In most cases, keywords were being used out of context or by themselves above ads that were plastered all over the page.

Don’t Forget About Long-Tail Keywords

A long-tail keyword is a string of keywords put together to increase the odds that a piece of content will achieve a high rank on a search engine. It also increases the odds of achieving targeted content that may convert better. For instance, you may be writing a blog about baseball with the goal of selling baseball merchandise. Instead of just focusing on baseball as your keyword, you could try to rank for Yankees 2009 World Series merchandise or autographed World Series baseballs.

While longer phrases may serve more of a niche audience, they also are less competitive, which gives you a better chance to attract a visitor who will buy what you have for sale. When it comes to long-tail keywords, you may have a keyword density of less than 1 percent because you have more words to use and it may not fit naturally into the content. Therefore, you may want to use these keywords in title tags or other areas where search engine crawlers will see them.

Strive for Quality Content

Your goal when creating content online is to make it worthwhile to your readers. By focusing on quality, you don’t need to worry about targeting keywords or how often you use them within your content because your readers will find the content through a variety of different mediums. In a quality piece of writing, you will naturally put in a broad array of keywords and long-tail strings that those searching for content can use to find you online. Remember, if you have quality content, your site visitors will want to come back, which can increase engagement and lower bounce rate. These two things are just as important for SEO as keywords.

Keyword density is one part of putting together content that both search engines and human readers will love. As long as you strive to use the keywords or phrases naturally in your writing, it will be difficult to keyword stuff or engage in other behavior that may be considered spam. However, aside from that, 1 to 3 percent density is always acceptable in the eyes of readers and search engines alike.