I get this question frequently, along with questions about keyword proximity, keyword repetition, and keyword prominence. How important is Keyword Density as it pertains to Search Engine Optimization? The answer is simple: if you’re thinking too much about keyword density, you’re probably using your keywords more than you need to.

The basic rule of thumb has always been 3% to 5%, or 1-3 repetitions for every 100 words used on a page. That being said, one should take into account the use of the keyword in the HTML title, meta descriptions, ALT and TITLE attributes, and use of the keyword in the category or global navigation.

The idea around keyword density has historical value for organic search engine ranking (for engines such as meta crawler-based search engines) and Bing, engines that care less about inbound links and more about on-page relevancy (keyword themes on page or latent semantic indexing).

Since Google carries a 65% market share according to the 2010 Comscore results, we as SEO’s should be focusing more on how to get people to link and mention our brand and website, and less about keyword density. That being said, make sure your keywords are in these specific focal points and not used more than once with the same descriptive text (example: if your keyword is Nike shoes, don’t use “cool Nike shoes” more than once or that phrase may be picked up as your keyword theme).

Where to Have Your Keywords

  • Your HTML Title Tag
  • Your Meta Description
  • Your Meta Keyword (for other engines)
  • Your Main Heading (h1)
  • Possibly in a Variation with Subheadings (h2-h6)
  • Once, Maybe Twice Within the Paragraphs & List Items

It’s also a good practice to you use your keywords in the first paragraph and last paragraph of your article or content. Remember, try not to think about keywords when you’re writing content, as the reader may find it very difficult to read and may even list the page as spam as new social websites are allowing users to vote on shared content. Keyword density isn’t rocket science, but shouldn’t be something that you have to worry about when writing great content.