SEO 101: Understanding Keyword Density

Keyword density is one important factors that needs to be considered when optimizing your web page for SEO.

Simply put, keyword density is an indicator of the number of times the keyword appears in the web page.

Why is this important?

Back in the old days, search engine has to rely on keywords to get information about a web page on the internet. The more the specific keywords appear on a page, the more likely it will rank high on the search engine. In other words, the more keyword density a phrase have in a given page, the more likely it will rank in the search engine.

For example, in the old days, if you build a page about how to build a shed and want to optimize the “build a shed” keyword, you can put the “build a shed” keyword many times in a page in order for the search engine to rank your content high.

However, this practice has a flaw. A huge flaw.

A lot of people then practiced keyword spamming. In other words, they put so many of the keywords on a page that the content itself becomes unreadable. Can you imagine a page with “build a shed” keyword written in every sentences?

Even worse, black hat SEO practitioners practiced keyword hiding.

That is, they chose a white font for the text and put as many keywords as they can on a page. And then, they put a readable content for the user to see. So they have the white text keywords for the search engine to eat and the real text for the users to see.

This kind of practice is very unethical and search engine companies made significant update on their algorithm.

Today, if you repeat your keywords with every other word on every line, your site will be penalized or even banned from the search engine.

So, how should we use keyword density today?

Let’s get the technical terms clear first before I answer that question.

How Keyword Density is Calculated

Keyword density is always expressed in percentage.

Let me give you an example to understand keyword density better.

Suppose you have 100 words on your webpage – excluding HTML and other web codes and you’re using “build a shed” for your keyword.

To calculate the keyword density for “build a shed” you need to calculate how many times the phrase appear on that page. Suppose you’ve used it 5 times on your page.

You can then calculate the keyword density on that page by simply dividing the total number of keyword appearance by the total number of words that appear on your web page.

So we have 5 / 100 = .05.

Now remember, because keyword density is a percentage of the total word count on the page, multiply the above by 100, that is .05 x 100 = 5%.

How to Calculate Keyword Density Using a Software

Thankfully, you don’t have to calculate keyword density manually using the above steps.

There are many programs and plugins that can automatically calculate keyword density for you.

You can even use a word processor program such as Microsoft Word to calculate keyword density and I’ll be giving you a step by step instruction on how to do this below:

  • Copy and paste the content from any of your web page to Microsoft Word
  • Go to the “Edit > Select All” or use Ctrl+A to select all the text.
  • Go to the “Tools > Word Count” menu. Write down the total number of words in the page.
  • De-select all text by clicking anywhere outside your selection.
  • Go to Edit > Find > Find and Replace or simply click Ctrl+F. This will bring you the Find and Replace dialog.
  • Enter the keyword that you want to check the keyword density – it will show you how many keywords will be replace – do not hit replace since we’re only after the number of keywords.
  • After you get the 2 numbers above, calculate the keyword density number using the formula above.

If you are using WordPress as your site’s engine, there’s a cool plugin called SEOPressor that can automate the keyword density calculation for you.

Keyword Density Best Practice

So, what percentage of keyword density you should aim for?

There are a lot of debate about this on the internet as there’s not one right answer. Search engine never reveals their algorithm to people, including the percentage of keyword density they look for.

Generally, we still want the page to still be relevant to the search engine but we don’t want to spam.

From my experience, a keyword density below 2% is good enough to accomplish that goal. And this number is used by many online article directories such as eZine Articles.

Remember that keyword density applies to every single page on your site. You should check for keyword density on every page to make sure you’re targeting the right one but not spamming.

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