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How to Improve Keyword Density on Your Site
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The search engines use a number of factors when ranking a page within their index. They use a series of on-page and off-page factors. Of the on-page factors, Keyword Density becomes a key component.

A well optimized page will benefit both the user and the search engine spiders. Keyword density is one of the main contributors as to how users and search engines use your website. Keyword density is measured by taking key phrases and measuring the ratio of the phrases to the total number of search engine indexable words in a page. This includes the “invisible” content such as meta tags and image alt tags. Ideally pages should be between 400 and 600 words and have at least one important phrase on the page, repeated throughout, while keeping the page intelligible to readers.

When writing copy for your website, there are a number of ways to ensure that you utilize proper keyword density throughout your web pages.

Seven Ways to Improve Keyword Density
  1. Insert Keywords Into Page Titles – this pertains to the title tag that is commonly associated with the meta data of your site pages. You page titles should include keywords preferably near the beginning of the title for optimal effect. This helps communicate the subject matter of the page to the search engines and more importantly your users. The title also appears in the results pages of the search engines and is often bolded depending on the user’s search query.

  2. Insert Keywords into Headings – Include keywords in the heading of the page copy itself. Ensure that the main heading of your page uses heading tags with the "h1" heading tag considered to be the most important.

  3. Place Keywords in ALT Text – if you have images on your web pages, ensure that you place descriptive alt text on the image that is key word rich. Do not spam your ALT Tags.

  4. Add Keyword Rich Anchor Text throughout your pages – when interlining your site pages, you should link from keywords as the destination page with receive better Inbound Linking (IBL) merit from the search engines.

  5. Incorporate Keywords into Page URLs – helps convey the theme of the page and is one of the many factors that search engines will use to rank a web page.

  6. Add Keywords to your Copy – make use of your important keywords in the actual copy of your site pages. If you want to be found in the search engines for “green widgets” you better make sure that your page copy features the phrase “green widgets”.

  7. Incorporate the Use of a Keyword Rich Footer – ensure that your footer appears on all pages. Include links to important product pages using keyword rich anchor text. For example if your site sells widgets make sure that you include important keywords in the footer. Blue Widgets | Green Widgets | Large Widgets | Small Widgets | Widget Information | Widget Resources |
From an SEO point of view, without being spammy, pages such as the home page should have a keyword density of about 6-12 % based on 400 words of content, with an emphasis on your most important key phrases. A well optimized page should have a keyword density of about 6-12% based on 400-500 on-page words of copy. We have seen top ranking sites with a KW density of as high as 20% on their homepage without being penalized by the search engines.

Benefits of Improving Keyword Density Throughout Your Site
  • Helps the site become more authoritative for related keywords that can help drive qualified traffic to your site.

  • Helps communicate the topic of your site pages

  • Helps convey a theme around your sites content

  • Acts as an interception point in keyword searches so that users have an easier time finding your site when searching for non-branded key phrases that are descriptive of your business.

  • Maintaining a keyword density of 6-12% throughout the site can improve organic search rankings which in turn can result in the site being able to rank higher for traffic driving phrases.

  • Is a cost efficient way of increasing your organic/natural search ranking in the search engines. Increased Visibility = Higher Rankings. Higher Rankings = More Site Traffic. More Site Traffic Leads to More Conversions. More conversions lead to Better ROI. Better ROI leads to on-going success.
Each of the search engines treats keyword density in different manners as it pertains to their ranking algorithms. The main things to keep in mind with keyword density is to think about relevancy for the user and avoid being spammy. The use of too many keyword occurrences can make the copy read poorly and can detract from the purpose of the page.

Useful Resources on Keyword Density

Keyword Density Defined on Wikipedia:

Keyword Density Analyzer:


posted by Jody @ Wednesday, September 26, 2007  
  • At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Myron Rosmarin said…

    The percentages you are quoting seem really high to me. The keyword density for the phrase "breast cancer" on (BreastCancer.org) is 2.73%. This is the #1 result in Google for the same phrase.

    This is a site that is about "breast cancer" if it's about anything and "breast cancer" is in the URL title and appears just about everywhere on the page you would want it. So increasing this value by a factor of 5 is questionable advice to me.

    The guidance I recommend is to strive for a keyword density of between 2% and 3.5% I rarely see credible sites with higher densities than this for key phrases.

  • At 8:49 AM, Blogger Jody said…

    Hi Myron,

    Great comments. I should clarify my statement re: the KW Density percentage. What we have seen with a number of our clients and a large number of their online competitors is that (on average) the acceptable Keyword Density level (for the sites that are ranking well)is in between 6 and 12 percent. Traditionally what has been reported is that KW density should be 2-5%.

    At first we thought this (the higher KW Density percentage) to be a coincidence, but having checked the number of sites that we did across various industries, we have seen consistent KW densities around 8-12%. In some cases the engines are letting sites get away with KW density as high as 20%. (The travel industry is one where the KW densities are higher than most.)

    While KW density is only one of the many factors used by the engines to rank a web page, I agree with you 100% when you refer to site wide themes being about a specific key phrase (such as "breast cancer") as this is going to become even more important in the future as the search engines rank sites based less on keyword but by theme.

    I looked at the breastcancer.org home page and found a higher KW density of 5.49% for "breast cancer" than you had mentioned. This was based on the pages text only. This is pretty close to the 6% that we would recommend.

    I probably should have clarified the statement on the KW Density percentage to include keywords found not just in the copy but in the meta data and page code as well.

    Ultimately when we suggest a KW density of 6-12%, we're not suggesting that to "spam" the search engines. Ideally the page copy needs to be created for the user and not the search engine spiders. To me a site like bresatcancer.org should rank in top spot for "breast cancer" based on relevancy and authority. Other sites that are well optimized and have higher KW densities should not necessarily rank higher. It all comes down to relevancy. I think the engines do a good job of filtering these sites out in industries such as the health industry, but in others we are seeing top sites consistently have higher KW densities.

    Thanks for the comment Myron.

  • At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Pamela said…

    I have become confused going through many sites describing keyword density factors. Some says 3%-7% is optimal for primary keyword and up to 3% for secondary keywords.Few blogs says they get good rank in google with less 3% density. Any i know few sites like dassnagar.com and dassnagar.net having their main keyword density less 2.5% having good rank. So it is very confusing.

  • At 12:39 AM, Blogger DUCK_PRINCE said…

    Great posting!. However, I am conerned to find out the keyword density of a whole website which takes all the child pages in to consideration and giving me an aggregate keyword analysis instead of the homepage or each unique page analysis. Is there any tool for that purpose. Pls comment…


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