Is 2% *really* the minimum keyword density?

27 replies
  • SEO
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*Originally (erroneously) posted this in Copywrite forum - deleted original*

I'm a novice at writing content for IM, haven't made money from it yet. I consider myself an "OK" writer for most of the types of things I've written (was a tech writer for 3 yrs, written essays for school work, etc.).

Most of what I read says that to achieve ranking in search engines, a keyword density of 2 - 4% is optimal. The SEOpressor WP plugin complains if the density is below 2%.

When I attempt to get my keyword density above 2%, my writing turns to crap! Having to use a phrase in almost every sentence makes it look like my articles were written by a child (or a hyperactive salesman).

I'd like to hear from some of the excellent content writers on this forum (blatant pandering). How do you handle keyword density? Do you keep it above 2%? if so, do you find that it compromises the quality of your writing?

Thanks,

joe
#density #keyword #minimum
  • Profile picture of the author Mister Rex
    I stopped looking at keyword density in 2011. The key now is semantic keywords. Obviously, if you are writing semantically (which you should) then you are going to have a lower density. So, I totally believe you when you say your writing turns to crap above 2%. It should!

    That is one reason kw density is out (my opinion only). Google is now scoring the relationship between keywords within content, not the number of instances an exact phrase appears on a page.

    That is general info and not SEOpressor info, though.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
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    I've never said this before , keyword density is the same as keyword stuffing, Google dealt with that years ago.

    Don't keyword stuff, looks like crap & serves no purpose for SEO.

    Use keyword themes (related keywords), which will probably happen on it's own when writing normal text.
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  • Profile picture of the author indybail
    Given Matt Cutts's recent warning, I would be more worried about maximum keyword usage instead of minimum.
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    • Profile picture of the author LotsofQuestions
      Originally Posted by indybail View Post

      Given Matt Cutts's recent warning, I would be more worried about maximum keyword usage instead of minimum.

      We stay with a 1.5 to 2.0% max and never go above this. Have you analyzed some of your biggest SEO companies? They are generally around 1.5%
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  • Profile picture of the author RyanLB
    As others have said (and I wouldn't take even Matt Cutts' word as gospel, it's in his best interest to keep some things close to the chest) keyword density takes care of itself when the content is written well. I wouldn't worry about exact figures. Typically I just read my articles and make sure that A) It sounds natural and B) My keyword and related keywords are mentioned a few times throughout. Keyword stuffing is easily detectable, and should be avoided.
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  • Profile picture of the author hicksdelight
    I agree.

    But I have had terms rank when I only mention them once in an article right at the beginning, but cause the same term is in the title and in heading tags, it is easy to know what the site is about.

    As long as it sounds and looks natural mention it as many or less times as you feel is neccessary, but if you go by Cutts video, then you don't need to mention the term more then 2/3 times.
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    • Profile picture of the author RyanLB
      Originally Posted by hicksdelight View Post

      I agree.

      But I have had terms rank when I only mention them once in an article right at the beginning, but cause the same term is in the title and in heading tags, it is easy to know what the site is about.

      As long as it sounds and looks natural mention it as many or less times as you feel is neccessary, but if you go by Cutts video, then you don't need to mention the term more then 2/3 times.
      I agree. I didn't mean that everything that Cutts says should be disregarded. I've used a lot of his advice to my advantage but then again there's been times where I've done what he has advised and 6 months later they end up punishing the same thing they were pushing.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    The concept of 'keyword density' is largely obsolete nowadays, and has been for a while. Just throw in your keyword a few times and be sure to just write naturally. Don't worry about a percentage or number of appearances of the keyword.
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  • Profile picture of the author weheartcontent
    I once had a website that I wrote articles for. I didn't have a single care in the world for KW density because; 1) its just too tedious to maintain a certain percentage and 2)my article would just read like crap.

    The website ranked no problem at all.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cataclysm1987
    No. 1 Percent is. And I've seen people rank with even lower.
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  • Profile picture of the author webdevpro
    The main idea is to write for the readers and not for SEs. If the readers find your article interesting and well written the chances are they will promote it to their network and your site will start getting more traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author AskJon
    I personally don't really care about KW density and don't tell my writers to care about it either. What I usually ask is good content that makes sense to users and a well crafted article that readd well. I'm usually below 1% and it never really affected me at all. As long as you have your keyword in h tags, title, etc. you should be good to go!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jon Paella
    Mister Rex, could you explain "Google is now scoring the relationship between keywords within content"? Thanks.
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    • Profile picture of the author cjreynolds
      Thanks to all for the great replies - you made my day! [doin a happy dance] y'all may have saved my writing career - I honestly don't know if I could have continued producing this tripe with my name on it.

      Goin out right now to slash keywords in my blogs

      BTW: one of the techniques I was using to increase density was to put the keyword in every image's caption (i use lots of images). After reading these posts, I wonder if this would be considered keyword stuffing?
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      • Profile picture of the author hicksdelight
        Originally Posted by cjreynolds View Post

        Thanks to all for the great replies - you made my day! [doin a happy dance] y'all may have saved my writing career - I honestly don't know if I could have continued producing this tripe with my name on it.

        Goin out right now to slash keywords in my blogs

        BTW: one of the techniques I was using to increase density was to put the keyword in every image's caption (i use lots of images). After reading these posts, I wonder if this would be considered keyword stuffing?
        Look at it from what a bot see's, it doesnt see the image, it see's the file name, so I would think yes, it would be considered keyword stuffing, but not sure.

        A bot only see's text, so if you have article with your keyword, keyword in header image, keyword in the pictures, its just gonna see that word over and over, I think.
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
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        Originally Posted by cjreynolds View Post

        Thanks to all for the great replies - you made my day! [doin a happy dance] y'all may have saved my writing career - I honestly don't know if I could have continued producing this tripe with my name on it.

        Goin out right now to slash keywords in my blogs

        BTW: one of the techniques I was using to increase density was to put the keyword in every image's caption (i use lots of images). After reading these posts, I wonder if this would be considered keyword stuffing?
        If your selling articles, you have a battle on your hands.

        This forum is full of questions asking what the correct keyword density is.

        What I'm saying is, a lot of people have been conned into believing the sales pitch/page on keyword density products. Which the guy selling the product & the affiliates of that product could care less what happens to your pages in the SERPs after the sale has been made.

        Sad but true.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mister Rex
      Originally Posted by Jon Paella View Post

      Mister Rex, could you explain "Google is now scoring the relationship between keywords within content"? Thanks.
      It goes back to the whole LSI thing. LSI became a big buzzword a couple of years ago, then went away. Really, starting with the Mayday update forward, google has been looking for a way to judge page quality at an algorithmic level. With Panda, they figured it out a little, and their algo's have become increasingly smarter at understanding the relationship between words.

      Quality content in real life isnt a repetition of keywords - it is a flow of content with many variations and words related to the keywords. Google is at least to a degree, able to judge content based on these signals.
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  • Profile picture of the author josephseeley
    It's highly dependent on the keyword. You can get away with using a single "root" type keyword a lot more on a page than you can a 5 word long-tail. Look at most retailer pages... they'll have the root single keyword on the page hundreds of times often enough. But put "best 50th anniversary gifts for grandma and grandpa" on a page 100 times and you'll be -950 for that phrase almost for sure.
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  • Profile picture of the author GGpaul
    Keyword density...I don't even think about that. I just focus on providing value to the reader.
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  • Profile picture of the author Leo Wadsworth
    I agree with most of the posters on this thread -- think of 2% as a max, not a min. Google has publicly said they don't want "over optimized" sites, and I suspect they have lowered the threshold for keyword stuffing.

    Keep your writing natural -- for humans -- offering real value. Avoid spun content.

    I think it is totally fair and right to have the keywords in there a reasonable number of times, depending on the length of the post/article. I personally go for 1-2%. For a 300 word article, that's 3-6 times. The shorter the article, the less I go out of my way to go over 1% very much.

    Having related keywords in your writing is very wise. Google is making more and more use of these. LSIKeywords.com is a *free* (love that word!) resource that can tell you the keywords that it finds on other top sites for your keyword. Consider these in your writing - it helps to make sure you are using common terminology that others are using as well. Again, though, don't overdo it -- write for the human readers, and just be friends with Google.
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  • Profile picture of the author dadamson
    There is no minimum keyword density for SEO, in fact you can easily rank a keyword these days without even having the keyword on your page, search engines are getting smarter about overall themes of your website content and ranks your more naturally
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  • Profile picture of the author misha7878
    keyword density is not all that important. Just dont do like 20 percent and dont do .1 percent.
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    • Profile picture of the author cjreynolds
      Man, these posts are music to my ears! No longer must I labour under the tyranny of keyword density!

      Freedom!

      Freedom!

      FREEDOM!!!



      Thanks again, folks! I can always count on the WF for great people and great advice!

      joe
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      I just added this sig so I can refer to it in my posts...

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  • I try to keep my keyword density around 2-3% but in the long run I dont think it is the most important factor at all when it comes to SEO. I do it because I dont think it hurts to work on it, but it's really not something that I overthink.
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  • Profile picture of the author Julia Baby
    Right now one of my site is ranking #1 for it's targeted keyword and has 2.01 keyword density. That's all.
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