Keyword density is the ratio of keywords to the total number of words within a text. It used to be considered an important ranking factor in search engine optimization (SEO) by many SEO experts, but today it is considered more of a low effect factor for optimizing a text. Google itself has never directly confirmed a keyword density as a ranking factor.
Texts on websites are specifically equipped with keywords for search engine optimization. In this way, websites signal to Google and Co for which search queries a search engine should output the page. The keyword density of a text shows how often a keyword occurs in relation to the remaining words in a text. This is usually done as a percentage, but occasionally keyword density is also defined in terms of the actual number of words, or a range between the minimum and maximum number of keywords.
Every day, users enter search queries into search engines like Google. A page that uses a keyword appropriately has a better chance of appearing in a good ranking position. For a long time, a fixed keyword density was therefore considered an important ranking factor in the competition for the best places in the search results. In the meantime, however, most experts assume that calculating the right number of keywords as a ranking factor is more complex than simply giving a percentage of the right word. Nevertheless, the frequency of a keyword should be chosen and defined sensibly in order to avoid keyword stuffing or even underrepresentation of the term.
Google has never directly confirmed keyword density as a ranking factor.
The role of keyword density in SEO
For a long time it was disputed among SEO experts how high the optimal keyword density is. Today, people have moved away from fixed values and consider the keyword distribution in a text as a flexible part of various factors for keyword optimization of a text.
It is clear that keywords are still important to signal to search engines like Google what the topic of a text or website is. Also, the use of keywords in the right places, such as headline, title, etc. still seems to be important. In addition, however, other factors such as the use of synonyms or semantically similar terms, good readability of the text or the right text length are now considered essential components of keyword and text optimization. The text genre, the topic and the graphic or multimedia features of a text can also determine the density with which keywords should be set. Thus, a blog post may have a different optimal keyword density than an image gallery.
Good texts and thus a sensible use of keywords are becoming increasingly important on the Internet. This is shown, among other things, by the content marketing trend. Content on websites is used for targeted marketing measures and ensures that readers prefer a company because of the content it creates. In such a marketing approach, the content itself is the decisive factor. Rigid guidelines, such as a fixed keyword density that devalues the text stylistically, can lead to a negative result there.
Keyword stuffing is the over-optimization of a text with keywords. An author places the desired keyword as often as possible in a text or on a website in order to appear as relevant as possible for Google and Co. However, search engines usually evaluate keyword stuffing negatively, as it makes texts unreadable or pages useless. Search engine operators can therefore penalize over-optimized texts.
Keyword density was considered an answer to keyword stuffing, as it regulated and reduced the number of keywords. According to the idea of keyword density, an author always writes the crucial words in the text in the right proportion. The keyword density thereby sets the upper (and lower) limit for keywords and thus prevents keyword stuffing.
The influence of keyword density on good content
To satisfy readers, website owners today need to offer high-quality content. Texts must entertain, inform and offer the reader added value. In addition, they should also be quickly comprehensible, written for a specific target group and, of course, easy to read.
Texts that the author littered with keywords just to meet a certain keyword density and rank well in Google seem unnatural and are poorly readable. Writing an article strictly according to a certain keyword density is therefore usually not sensible. The user doesn’t care if a text is optimized for the search engine. He does care, however, if a text is poorly readable and a page is therefore not helpful or entertaining. In the worst case, the user jumps off, evaluates the user experience on a page negatively and does not return again. Accordingly, texts should not be written for Google, but for the human reader.
Keywords are important for any text and website, as they signal to search engines what a page is about and what that page wants to rank for. While experts used to assume that a keyword should be placed in a text at a certain percentage, this perspective has changed in the meantime. Many SEO experts now assume that there are several other factors that Google and Co use to recognize the content of a text and a website and that can thus influence the ranking in the search engine results.
Also for the reader a certain keyword density is rarely advantageous, it rather promotes the unreadability of a text. In the worst case, this leads to readers leaving a page dissatisfied and not returning. Too high a keyword density can therefore be penalized by search engines and cause a website to be downgraded in the ranking.
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