Thoughts on Keyword Density

Sure, I’ll agree that keyword density on a page has relevance – some relevance, not sure how much – but it is something to which I pay little attention, if any. This morning I was perusing posts at the Affiliate Summit Forum and read a thread asking, “Do You Track Your Keyword Density?”

My response was, simply, “I believe you should write for your readers and not for a (moving target) arbitrary set of numbers.” Enough said. That’s it.

SEO Keyword Density
Keyword Density: Is this too dense for effective Search Engine Optimization?

If you write narrative for your audience then everything else should fall into place. If you write something that is of interest to your readers and provides value for them – you will attract readers and search engine “recognition.” What is that value, you ask? It is simply something for which they (your potential readers) are looking. It could be a picture with a description of a place they want to visit, or have been – for the traveler. I could be a unique way of cleaning a paint roller – for the home remodeler. It could be a bit of humor for someone looking for online entertainment. It could be the best selection of checks available online – for someone needing to reorder checks. Provide “something” of value, that fulfills some sort of need, and you will have readers. Search engines follow the readers.

Search engines follow the readers? Huh? What’s that supposed to mean? I’ll bet you thought that search engines primarily dictate where are supposed to go (because of the order in which sites appear).

A search engine may index your site and temporarily give it a “good” position. Then it may seem to disappear. But if someone finds it – and likes it well enough to provide a link to your page/site – that can begin a (sort of) chain reaction. Search engines will “look at” whomever may follow that link (or links) and track HOW LONG they stay on your site once they get there. That simple metric is an indicator of how “relevant” your site (or page) is to a particular topic (set of keywords).

Keyword-density counters and/or manipulators can influence a page author to write in a stilted manner that chases people away. Poor narrative with a lack of good grammar and flowing thoughts will have people leave your site after a brief scan. They will NOT hang around to read more and that will actually hurt your chances at good search engine ranking.

If you write more for proper keyword density (a moving target for sure) than you do for your visitors, you will do more to hurt your search results than help them. Write for your audience – and you will have an audience.


5 Replies to “Thoughts on Keyword Density”

  1. Great post, Bill! There are so many “formula” posts for SEO that discuss how many times you should use a keyword and where it should be included, but often people forget to write to the audience.

    I’m looking forward to more of your insights as High Noon Performance Marketing moves to the next level!

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Thank you, Sharon. You and I should get together for lunch one day – and brainstorm some other topics for a series of posts on “Realistic SEO, a Common Sense Approach to Search Engine Optimization” and how that, as a topic, could be approached. Another “keyword” might be “Common Sense SEO” (but that domain is already taken). heh

  3. I read the responses over at Affiliate Summit. Not sure if Vinny is new to SEO? The 4% remark was a bit ridiculous. Keyword density is so 1990’s.

  4. No, Vinny is not new to affiliate marketing nor to SEO. While he and I may not agree on everything, I do have a large amount of respect for him, for what he does and what he is willing to share with others.

    If one thinks about that 4% “suggested limit” – I can [easily] consider it to be in the ballpark. After all, a 4% density would mean having the keyword(s) appear once in every 25 words. That would be crowding things a bit; some might consider that, or anything above, to be keyword stuffing. Some might even considered the same level to be spamming with keywords.
    In the above two paragraphs of my response, if you consider the word “keyword” you will see it appears a bit less than 3% of the time. Natural narrative about a topic should “naturally” keep the repetitive entries to less than that 4% figure.

  5. Not so much a keyword density reply but more of a “quality content” reply that has some keyword density tied in.

    I know of one site owner who wanted to post restaurant reviews. He has a very nice coupon book site that ranks 1st page on G for many of the restaurant coupon names. His plan was to post all these restaurant reviews to the corresponding restaurant coupon page. His aim was to rank 1st for “whatever restaurant reviews” in organic search.
    First, he was told about the duplicate content issue from copying and pasting. He said others did it, so he could do it too. Second, he thought if he posted 10 reviews, G would rank him higher than the site that had 9 reviews.

    He was told that G doesn’t really “care” about numbers, its quality that matters. He was also told once G realizes that his reviews are the same as everyone elses, he probably wont hold 1st page, and certainly not 1st spot for his restaurant reviews.
    His coupon pages have good quality unique content for the reader, he’s hinging on that fact to push his restaurant reviews to the top.

    We’ll see.

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