Keyword Density

The Art of Keyword Density in SEO: A Comprehensive Guide

By now, you’re likely well aware of the role that SEO (search engine optimization) plays in your success in the digital landscape.

After all, if you are not publishing SEO-optimized content, you’ll struggle to rank highly on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Given that only 0.63% of Google Searches click on results from the second page, this can impact your success (and bottom line) quite considerably. 

While there are many different factors that impact your SEO ranking, your use of keywords is one of the most influential. After all, the strategic inclusion of keywords can make it easier for your target audience to find your content, as it increases web visibility quite considerably. Omitting these keywords could mean that your brand fails to receive the kind of traction it deserves.

However, it is important that you neither over or underuse them by ensuring that you get the keyword density just right. After all, overusing keywords means that you are guilty of keyword stuffing (something that the search engines actively penalize), while underusing keywords makes it harder for your content to find the right audience. 

This article will help you determine the ideal keyword density for SEO by sharing some insight into common keyword density best practices. 

Understanding Keyword Density

Before getting to grips with keyword density, it’s important that you understand exactly what keywords are and how they should be used. 

What are keywords?

Keywords refer to the specific terms or phrases people use when searching for something online. For example, this could include the name of a specific brand or product. 

By featuring these keywords within their website, businesses can capture the attention of their target audience, as they’ve created relevant content. This, in turn, will also improve their rankings on different search engines. 

Keywords are typically split into two categories: 

Primary Keywords. Primary keywords are the words are the main words that your audience is searching for online. For example, if they were on the lookout to purchase clothes for their next vacation, keywords could include phrases such as “shorts” or “sunglasses.” 

Secondary keywords. Secondary keywords are additional terms or keyword phrases that add additional context or depth. In the example listed above, this could include terms such as “summer shorts” or “clothes to wear in hot weather.” By embedding those phrases into your content, in addition to the primary keyword, you’re making it easier for users to find exactly what they are looking for on your site. 

However, it’s important that businesses use the optimal keyword density. 

What is keyword density? (Keyword density definition)

SEO keyword density simply refers to the frequency at which the keyword(s) appear in a body of text. It’s typically presented as a percentage. For example, a keyword density of 5% in a 500-word article indicates that 25 keywords are featured within the body of text. 

You can use the keyword density formula below to determine the keyword density within your own content: 

  • Keyword Density = The number of times a keyword appears in a body of text / the total word count.

Debunking Keyword Density Myths

In the past, the “best” methodologies for keyword density revolved around using as many keywords as possible. 

This is because marketers saw that content that was keyword-heavy automatically began to rank higher than content that didn’t feature keywords as prominently and sought to use this to their advantage. In short, they tried to “trick” the algorithm into working in their favor by including every possible keyword.

This meant that they were producing large volumes of low-quality content that was often hard to make sense of or read. This led to frustration amount customers/web users. In order to improve user satisfaction rates, search engines sought to penalize websites that are guilty of keyword stuffing.

So, while it remains a prevailing myth that a high-keyword density will result in higher rankings, search engines have begun to actively penalize this content. As such, it’s important that you do not fall into this trap when producing content for your website. Instead, creators must be more mindful of the amount of keywords they use in a single body of text.

Identifying Ideal Keyword Density Range

What is a good keyword density?

The ideal keyword density range can vary depending on the content you are creating. For example, keywords should feature less prominently in social media posts than larger bodies of text, as the former are required to be short, snappy, and attention-grabbing, meaning less detail-heavy overall. 

However, keyword density analysis indicates that users should aim for a keyword density of no more than 1-2% within their content as a general rule of thumb. This means that a 1,000-word article should include between 10-20 keywords., Anything higher than this could push down your ranking on different search engines.

Remember, overusing keywords (or keyword stuffing) not only impacts your search engine rankings but also means that your content is harder to read or digest – which again speaks to the need to get your keyword density just right.

Keyword Research and Selection

The best keyword strategies are built upon extensive research, which enables you to determine the best target keyword (also known as a primary keyword) and secondary keywords.

 When selecting keywords, you may find the following tips useful: 

  • Think carefully about user intent/keyword intent. This refers to the user’s intention whenever they start a search online; for example, are they looking for a specific brand or type of product? Using these words/phrases in your content helps them to find what they are looking for, while also improving your conversions/sales rates.
  • Use a keyword planner. Using a keyword planner, such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you to identify which keywords/keyword phrases you should be using. You can use this to figure out what phrases your customers are searching for on a regular basis, alongside how “competitive” the words are. 
  • Identify keywords through ‘related searches’ feature. Scrolling to the bottom of a search engine results page (after inputting a keyword or keyword phrase), will provide you with a listed or related terms and phrases that are often used in conjunction with your keyword. This methodology is particularly useful when it comes to identifying your secondary keywords. However, it’s also a great way to better understand your customer’s intent, needs, and desires. 

Once you’ve added keywords to your website, you can use a site auditor to determine how optimized your web page is for your target keywords. For example, it could be that you aren’t using the right keywords or that you’re placing them in the wrong section of your website. You can then implement any necessary changes, improving your SEO strategy quite considerably and maximizing your ROI.

However, identifying the best keywords is only half of the battle. You must then ensure that you use them correctly! 

Implementing Keywords in On-Page Content

While getting the keyword frequency right is important, you also need to think carefully about keyword distribution (i.e., where they are placed within the text). Keywords should be placed at regular intervals throughout your content, as opposed to clustering them together in the opening paragraph. After all, this can lead to  “issues like keyword cannibalization, content silos, and even penalties from search engines

If you aren’t sure where to begin, the six hotspots for keywords include: 

  • Your domain name. Your domain name can easily feature a keyword, especially if your brand is catering to a specific niche or selling one type of product. For example, an ice cream brand should have the word ice cream in their domain name, as this makes it very clear what they are selling.
  • Title tag. The title tag is the very first thing that a web user will see when searching online. Therefore, if keywords are missing from your title tag but prominent within the sites on either side of you in the rankings, they’re more likely to click on one of your competitor’s websites. Using keywords here can, therefore, improve web traffic.
  • Description tag. The description tag (or meta description) gives viewers a better understanding of the core of your content. As such, featuring keywords here can encourage them to click on the link and enter your website. 
  • Image file names. Viewers will not see the image file names, but search engine algorithms will use them when categorizing and ranking content. As a result, using keywords here is a great way to ensure your content appears more frequently on SERPs. 
  • Alt tags. While alt tags (detailed descriptions of what the images contain) serve many purposes – such as making the content more accessible, they can also improve your search engine ranking through the inclusion of keywords. 
  • The body of the text. Typically, from the sections listed above, keywords should feature most prominently within the body of the text itself. Where possible, you should include them at the very start of sentences, as this makes it easier for search engines to categorize the content and get to the crux of what you are saying. 

Keyword Density in Content Types

The best keyword density for SEO can also vary depending on the type of content you are writing. As mentioned above, long-form articles can include a higher density of keywords than social media captions based on the typical length of the content, and it

s purpose. 

Blog Posts.

Again, the length of the blog post will dictate how many keywords should feature in the text. However, as a general rule, you should aim for a keyword density of between 1-2%. For example, a five-hundred-word blog should contain 5 keywords. This could include one primary keyword and four secondary or long-tail keywords. 

Social Media Posts.

Social media posts need to be short and snappy in order to serve their intended purpose. After all, nobody is going to read endless paragraphs of text when scrolling through Instagram or Facebook – in fact, they may actively avoid this kind of content. For this reason, and to avoid keyword stuffing, you should only include 1 keyword in a social media caption (two maximum). 

Landing pages.

A good keyword density within landing pages is around 1-2%, however. In these instances, the keywords should feature in headings, subheadings, and text.

Product Descriptions. 

The ideal keyword density within product descriptions is slightly higher than within some of the examples listed above. This is because product descriptions need to be as specific and succinct as possible.

Keyword Density for Mobile and Voice Search

The number of users conducting voice-activated searches is increasing at an impressive rate. For example, 123.5 million people used voice assistants in 2022 alone. However, during these searches, the keyword density tends to be a little higher. As such, if you are optimizing content in this way, you can afford to add a few extra keywords here and there.

Our growing reliance on voice search could mean that they type of keywords we feature in our content changes, too. For example, voice-activated searches tend to be more conversational in nature, which means that we may need to start using more conversational language or keyword phrases.

Avoiding Keyword Stuffing Penalties

As mentioned above, keyword stuffing does not work in your favor when it comes to climbing the search engine rankings. In fact, many search engine providers, such as Google, penalize sites that use keyword stuffing. For example, users are warned against creating this kind of low-quality content in Google’s quality guidelines. 

This is often viewed as a black-hat SEO practice, and Google penalization works by pushing the offending site down in their rankings. As such, you may benefit from using a keyword density checker, or the keyword density formula outlined above before publishing content. 

Monitoring and Adjusting Keyword Density

It’s typically advised that businesses review their SEO strategies on a regular basis in order to ensure they’re working to their advantage. As such, you should regularly monitor your keyword usage and adjust them when necessary. For example, it may be that you need to include new keywords to cater to changing user intent. 

If you notice that one of your web pages is under-performing (for example, receiving much less traffic than usual), this is a clear sign that you may have overused certain keywords or phrases. Adjusting the content can, therefore, increase its visibility by encouraging the search engine algorithms to work in your favor once again.

The Future of Keyword Density in SEO

Providers are regularly updating their search engine algorithms, which means that the kind of content they push to the top of the rankings can vary widely from one year to the next. As such, the appropriate keyword density for your content could change within the coming years, especially as Google is currently working to better understand search engine queries. 

However, it’s clear that the future of keyword density in SEO will continue to move away from keyword stuffing. This is because the practice breeds low-value content as opposed to actually serving its purpose. Sites that are guilty of keyword stuffing will not only fail to tank but will likely fail to bring in conversions, too. 


When it comes to updating their SEO strategy, many marketers ask themselves the question: does keyword density matter? After all, using as many keywords as possible seems like a great way to climb the rankings in theory, which is perhaps why so many people fall victim to keyword stuffing.

However, its essential that you are selective with the frequency at which you add keywords to your content. It’s far better to curate content that is relevant and engaging than it is to list off an endless stream of keywords – and not only for the sake of your ranking. Overusing keywords or failing to find the best keyword density means that you’re likely creating low-value, unengaging content that will turn customers away as opposed to drawing them in.

Moving forward, it’s important that you are as selective with your choice of keywords as you are with the frequency at which you appear in your content. Managing both of these tasks will enable you to climb the search engine rankings, ensuring your brand gains the kind of exposure it deserves. 

However, you should also review your content regularly to ensure that it is performing as intended. In some cases, an SEO audit can be useful in bringing this information to light. For example, our SEO auditing tools “contain over 50+ SEO signals and determine how optimized a web page is for a target keyword.” You can then use the data and information gathered within this report to better your SEO practices and website performance.

If you’d like to find out more, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have or to discuss the auditing process in more detail.