Is Keyword Density a Ranking Factor?
Keyword density has been long considered a ranking factor, with some believing that it is essential to achieving a spot on Google’s Page 1, even to this day. We all know that Google SEO keywords are crucial for good rankings. These SEO keywords should appear in the on-page text; otherwise, it would be difficult to rank for that particular phrase. But is there a certain percentage of keywords that you need to use?
The idea that there’s an ideal keyword ratio is something made popular by SEO tool companies. Below is the evidence behind the claims that keyword density affects rankings.
SEOs Claim That Keyword Density Affects Rankings
Keyword density measures how often a word or phrase appears in relation to the content’s word count. To calculate keyword density, one should divide the number of keywords by the content’s total number of words and multiply it by 100. For example, if the article has 1,000 words and a keyword is mentioned 26 times, its keyword density is 2.6 per cent. Various people advocate for different keyword densities, with some claiming 2%, 5%, or even 10% as the “best” percentage.
Many people believe in keyword density as a ranking factor because, unlike other myths, it is based on fact. Google actually used it as a ranking factor in the past. However, that was long ago, yet the idea of keyword density persists today.
SEO keywords give Google signals about the types of questions a piece of content should show up for. If there are too few keywords in the content, Google might not understand the context. However, if too many keywords are used, the search engine might view it as manipulating search rankings – a practice that results in penalties. Therefore, many believe in having a specific keyword density for their content.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for getting the best results. This isn’t how Google operates these days. Keyword usage is essential, but achieving a specific ratio will not help one’s SEO. In reality, even if a term does not appear on a webpage, it can nonetheless rank for that term. This pretty much destroys the whole notion of keyword density.
The Evidence for Keyword Density Being a Ranking Factor
To assess whether or not keyword density is a Google ranking factor, one can look at an old 2011 Google video. This source is just as accurate now as it was back then.
In the video, Matt Cutts explained how SEO works. Cutts is a reliable source as he was a Google employee from 2000 to 2015. He was also the head of Google’s webspam team and a liaison between the search engine company and the SEO community.
According to Cutts, there is no perfect keyword density for Google. He described the overuse of a term as being more damaging than beneficial. Mentioning a keyword several times may boost rankings, but excessive use of keywords might be considered keyword stuffing by Google.
He said it doesn’t matter much when one mentions the key phrase too frequently, but there’s a limit to the amount of benefit there is. It’s just a little bonus, and it isn’t that significant. Then, if SEOs continue to mention things repeatedly, they risk getting into keyword stuffing territory or writing nonsensical content, which both lead to terrible outcomes for SEO.
Instead, Cutts advised creating content long enough to incorporate the keywords that SEOs wish to utilise naturally. When they are finished writing, they should read the content aloud and pay attention to anything that sounds unnatural. If the copy sounds stilted, artificial, or like something produced by a robot, that indicates that the keyword has been overused. However, if it seems natural, there is nothing to worry about.
Moreover, using synonyms can help one avoid using the same keyword repeatedly. For example, key phrases like “keyword density” can be replaced with something like “keyword frequency”.
Synonyms are also an effective technique to keep a reader’s attention, and they might even help other related terms rank higher. Google can recognise synonyms, implying that a page may rank just by using synonyms even if it is not fully optimised for the specified term typed into the search bar.
Google’s Advice: Avoid Obsessing Over Keyword Density
Cutts recommended that SEOs stop focusing on keyword density. Moreover, he mentioned that keyword density would vary by area. It also depends on what other competitor sites are ranking for. He also warns everyone to avoid any SEO agencies who claim otherwise. Anyone who says that keyword density is a hard-and-fast rule might be trying to sell keyword density software and the like.
The Verdict About Keyword Density
Keyword density may have worked in the past, and many seasoned SEO professionals would vouch for that by giving various anecdotal evidence. There is no doubt that this technique worked effectively before. But now, keyword density isn’t worth stressing about. As long as one uses the term or phrase a few times throughout the content and does not focus on a specific ratio, then it’s fine.
At the very least, one should include the term in their meta descriptions, page titles, and most importantly, their first paragraph. Then they can limit the usage to a few more instances throughout the text. Because keyword density is not a ranking factor, there should be no ideal percentage of Google SEO keywords to use.
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Position1SEO is the UK’s leading SEO agency, committed to providing you with high-quality SEO services. We do not believe in keyword density or keyword stuffing; rather, we conduct thorough keyword research, positive link building, up-to-date content writing strategies, and more to bring traffic to your website. We are proud to say that our clients’ sites rank organically in the search results with no paid advertising required. Watch as we convert your site traffic into paying customers!
We only use white-hat SEO tactics and leave no stone unturned to get you ranking on Google’s first page – all without breaking any of their guidelines or risking getting penalised by them.
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