What is keyword density?
Keyword density is the ratio of the number of times a keyword appears on a page compared to the page’s total word count. The simplest formula for keyword density is:
(Number of keywords/ Total number of words) * 100
So if your keyword appears 5 times in an article of 100 words, your keyword density will be 5%. A more complex method to measure keyword density is called TF-IDF (term frequency and inverse document frequency), which first calculates the standard keyword frequency and then offsets that number with an inverse document frequency number. This gives a higher weightage to the unique keywords and de-emphasizes commonly used words to arrive at a more precise figure.
Does a higher keyword density guarantee better rankings?
NO. Not anymore.
Although, there was a time when this strategy was used (and exploited) by internet marketers and bloggers. However, now, with the involvement of machine learning and AI, Google has a whole new bunch of indicators to identify exactly what a webpage has to offer.
So how did this myth arise?
In the early days of Google, keyword density provided a relatively objective way for Google to identify if a website was a good fit for the user. However, early SEOs exploited this algorithm by “keyword stuffing” or cramming as many keywords as they could into a piece of content, which led to garbled content that was of no use to a human reader. Google later clamped down on this practice with its Panda update and new algorithms that prioritized content that users would actually find useful.
What’s the ideal keyword density?
Let’s get this straight: there is no ideal keyword density for better rankings. Google will not reward your page solely because of your keyword density. You’re better off creating natural content that a user actually wants to read and that answers their search query.
However, there are a few good rules you can follow for the ideal keyword density:
- Have a 1-3% keyword density that incorporates semantic keywords and LSI keywords (however, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hit that number anyway if you were actually creating a useful article)
- Have a keyword density similar to what the top ranking pages for a search query have.
- Focus on writing great content, place your keywords in natural places, and create stuff that your readers would love to read.