Keywords: The Density Myth

Keyword density: it’s an idea I thought was true until just recently.

The whole idea was this: say you had a web page with some headers and content and such. You would want to make it attractive to search engines, right? So the belief was that you were supposed to go in with your list of keywords and work in a certain percentage of keywords to create a certain density—say, 5%. I have found this belief repeated on page after page of so-called SEO experts’ pages. Oh well.

The problem is that this is not what search engines use to determine a page’s relevance. At all. A density analysis of a page would tell the search engine nothing: not the relative distance between keywords, nor where in the document the terms occur (the distribution). And it certainly would not indicate in any way the main theme, topic, or sub-topics of the page. A keyword density analysis would add nothing at all.

The Best Way to Optimize Your Page with Keywords

  • Use the keyword in the title tag at least once. Try to keep it as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible.
  • Use it once in the H1 tag of the page.
  • Use it at lease 3 times in the body copy (more if there is a lot of content). More than that seems to have no effect whatsoever.
  • At least once in bold. Use the <strong> or <b> tag, the search engines see them as equivalent.
  • At least once in the alt tags of an image on the page. This also helps with image search, which can bring a visit or two as well.
  • Once in the URL if possible.
  • At least once in the meta description tag. This tag does not get used by Search engines, but the search engine will use this for the blurb that appears in the search engine results. The better you write that, the more attractive it will make your link to the user.

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