Web Development

SEO Keyword Density

Okay, so recently I was posed with the question about SEO keyword density. Basically I was tasked with adding a feature to the administration section of the company I work for to check that the description of a product had a certain keyword density that mattered to search engines. As reference I was given the Yoast wordpress plugin, whereby it actually gives a keyword density checker.

I was sceptical about exactly why keyword density was so important rather than placement of the keywords, having seen many “myths” in SEO.

What do I mean by placement over density? Placement could be class as putting the keywords in the right places like in the meta, page title, header tags and content in a natural manner.

So I decided to research this a little. I soon came across: http://www.highervisibility.com/blog/what-is-the-proper-keyword-density-for-seo/ which not only provides a meta type discussion between numerous SEO experts but also provides a short but descriptive abstract from Matt Cutts:

“the first time you mention a word, you know, ‘Hey, that’s pretty interesting. It’s about that word.’ The next time you mention that word, ‘oh, OK. It’s still about that word.’ And once you start to mention it a whole lot, it really doesn’t help that much more. There’s diminishing returns. It’s just an incremental benefit, but it’s really not that large.”

So already Matt states that really once you start going crazy with those words and trying to cram them in they become almost useless.

What is also more interesting is that one of the consulted SEO experts actually did some research to find out the optimum keyword density for Google and other search engines varey:

He used pictures from gorank.com to determine that Yahoo recommends a keyword density of about 3% while Google seems to like sites that have a 1-2% keyword density. Below is an example of the chart he used to form this opinion:

With this in mind assuming one single density for all could be dangerous, what if the search engine thinks you are keyword stuffing? This used to be a common (and can still be) problem whereby scammers and hackers would keyword stuff to ensure they get fake sites to the top. So you can imagine that if a search engine thinks you are keyword stuffing they will actually give you a penalty possibly?

In fact all of the consulted SEO experts seem to agree that keyword density:

  • Is not a fixed calculatable number
  • Is not a big problem to most sites
  • Could be premature optimisation for a page (if you are a programmer you will understand this one)

So with all this in mind I decided to recommend, with evidence, that maybe we should rethink our SEO tactics and not fall into this common myth trap.

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