Keyword Density – Real?

Since 2011 I have heard lots of chatter about how keyword density is dead as an on-page seo tactic.  So today I want to talk a little about it and some ideas I have.

Of course back 20 years ago when I got started marketing online, it was all about stuffing as many keywords as you could in your meta tags.  But, as we all know today, that is dead for sure.

So, let’s dive in a little about this topic and do some research and think about things like Google, computers and machines and maybe even a little algorithm talk.

No One Knows For Sure

keyword density real or fakeOne thing we need to talk about is, no one knows what the secret really is.  I don’t care if some guy says he knows how Google works and he can show you.

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These are all just speculations and you never really know if Google looks at things differently for different niches etc.

It is very possible that an algorithm could look at different types of things for lets say, the top websites.

They could all be ranking in the top 10 for various reasons but could be positioned a certain way because of other reasons.

If you get what I am saying, it’s very possible websites could be positioned by things like keyword density.  But again, this is just speculation.

I personally have taken and played with the keyword density of clients websites, taken down the use of a keyword and have seen it move up a few positions or more.  Usually it was because the page was over optimized for a term.

Let’s see, back in March of 2012 Matt Cutts announced Google would be working on an over-optimization penalty.  But what exactly did that mean?

Let’s take a look at what Rand has to say back in 2012 also.

So as you can see over optimizing a site can mean many different things and keyword density could be one of those things.  You may also want to take a look at Cutt’s post on the Google inside search blog.

Still think keyword density isn’t a problem?  Have a look here.

So, What Do I Do?

Well, if you are not ranking for certain keywords, there are many things you need to look at.  Things like Panda, Penguin, Google Phantom, hummingbird and more.  It is very possible one of these could be the culprit.

So, what I would do is, develop a checklist of things you need to check.  For instance, did you know the FTC has many new rules a website needs to follow?  And Google does follow these.

However, if you have a client and they are not ranking, then you may want to check their keyword density and make sure they are not repeating the same keywords over and over.  You can do so here with this tool.

Let’s say their keyword is “air-conditioning repair”, you will want to check their keyword density and make sure they are not too high.  This is where keyword density comes into play.  It’s not that you want to shoot for a density of a particular keyword when you are writing a page.  You want to maybe mention the keyword in the page a time or two.

But, if your sites are not ranking, take a look at the content and check the keyword levels to make sure they are not over-optimized.  And speaking of content, make sure it’s quality.

If you have content produced for you, then you will surely need to do this because bad writing will repeat keywords over and over.  Some people not even writing for SEO will do this as their natural writing style.

So keyword density is very real, it’s just different than it used to be.  You just have to make sure you are not adding too many of your target terms in your writing.  Just think of how a machine would read things.  Also, take a look at this post on Webmaster World.  You see many webmasters talking about how Google searches produce pages sometimes without even a single keyword on the page.  This is due to algorithm changes like Hummingbird where Google now can understanding topics better and is shifting log tail search.

Always write for humans like a scholar would write.  But, go back and use a density checker to make sure you have not over optimized your post or page.

Of-course also look at the SERP results for your targeted term.  Way too often, I see people writing articles for keywords they really should not be writing articles for.  Always check and make sure your content and keywords align.  Think of how someone coming to your site would view your page coming from Google and whatever keyword they clicked.

Keep things interesting and use your own voice and writing style.  As I told you I am not the end all, be all of SEO.  There are so many good people in SEO these days.  I would encourage you to learn from all of them.

And always remember, what works today, may not work tomorrow.