What Is Keyword Density?

If you've had a discussion about SEO (search engine optimization) for your website in the past, you may have heard the phrase "keyword density. Keyword density is a jargon term in SEO that refers to the number of times your keyword phrase appears on the page. At one point, this did have an effect on search engine rankings, but updates by search engines over the years and changes in how people use the web have dramatically changed SEO best practices, including how keyword density should be used (if at all).

The Basics of Keyword Density

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or keyword phrase is found in your page content amidst all the other content. For example, if you have a web page with exactly 100 words on it, including all headlines, captions, alt text, and advertising, and you have a keyword phrase that is on the page 3 times, your keyword density is 3%:

# of repeats of the keyword / total number of words on the page * 100 = Keyword Density

Keyword density applies to the page as it displays live on your website. Years ago, people would try to create content with a high keyword density and then place it on their website in an effort to try to rank more effectively for those terms and phrases. Unfortunately, this results in web content that was a struggle to read for normal people. You would often see text like this:

"We are a Web design company that offer Web site design and Web site development services. Our Web design team has years of web design and development experience designing and developing Web sites for a variety of clients across a wide range of industries."

That text may seem ridiculous (because it is), but it was not uncommon to see many sites with content just like this. 

Write for People, Not Search Engines

Whether or not this keyword density (also known as keyword stuffing when it was taken to the extreme as in the above example) ever really worked is debatable, but what is clear is that it does not work today!

In fact, search engines would actually penalize you for writing content like this and no sane person would give your site anytime to read this garbage content.

When writing content for websites, be mindful of keywords that are relevant to that site's customers, but don't overdo it. Having those keywords appear naturally and comfortably in the text, the same way that they may enter into normal, conversational speech, is what you want to go for—not an overload of select keywords in a fruitless attempt to rise in rankings.

Good content that is well written, relevant, and useful will get you the SEO value you need. So if anyone mentions "keyword density" to you in a conversation about search engine rankings, run the other way— fast!

Edit by Jeremy Girard

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Your Citation
Kyrnin, Jennifer. "What Is Keyword Density?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-keyword-density-3469361. Kyrnin, Jennifer. (2017, June 5). What Is Keyword Density? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-keyword-density-3469361 Kyrnin, Jennifer. "What Is Keyword Density?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-keyword-density-3469361 (accessed December 13, 2017).