Keyword Density: The Truth about Keyword Density

Giving in to temptation yet again

I give up.

I honestly tried, but I can no longer resist the urge to write about keyword density.

There may be a HubPages rule limiting keyword density treatises to no more than one gabillion per day, but the siren's song has simply become too alluring.

Here come the words. If you don't care about the density of your keywords, go read a hub about cheese sandwiches. I won't be insulted.

I'm not happy with the state of keyword density calculations, advice, tools, and web sites. This is my rant, my vent, my diatribe. Read on if you care about the care and feeding of keywords. If your mind is already made up, well, DrBJ offers some funny stuff.

Let us begin by agreeing on a few basic premises:

  • Google rules the roost:
    Yes, other search engines besides Google do populate the Internet, but Google dominates. Reaching the top 10 results on a Yahoo search is not nearly as rewarding.
  • Nobody actually knows what a proper keyword density should be:
    Yes, you need some keywords, but no one outside of Google knows with any certainty how many keywords are too many or too little.
  • Google tells us what they want us to know:
    Yes, Google holds conferences and webinars, but they will never invite us into the cubicles of the programmers who design algorithms to calculate keyword density. As much of a proponent of Open Source as Google purports to be, they will never give us the code that runs their search engine.
  • Keyword density is only one part of a larger puzzle:
    Yes, keywords are probably important, but optimizing your keyword density will not propel your site to the top of the search results. You also need a good Page Rank. Web pages also need attributes and properties that Google will never reveal.

If you don't agree, go write your own hub

Again, I won't be insulted. Here's a non-controversial hub about socks for you to read.

Now, are we all on the same page?

What I absolutely love about this topic is the unending volume of statistics. Every SEO expert and his brother and his brother's barber knows an optimal keyword density range. They are all happy to share their knowledge with budding webmasters.

Particularly interesting is the abject lack of supporting data or research. No one can actually tell you how they arrived at their numbers.

Get your keyword density calculated for free!
Get your keyword density calculated for free! | Source

How is Keyword Density Calculated?

Give me 5 minutes and I'll present you 5 different algorithms for calculating keyword density. As we already agreed, Google isn't going to teach us how it's done.

Is it based on:

  • Total letters?
  • Total words?
  • Total letters per word?
  • Total keywords vs (total words / total letters) ?
  • The standard deviation of the Page Rank divided by the Fourier Transform of the incoming links mapped into an n-dimensional hypercube?

We simply do not know. Imagine the cackling and guffawing emanating from Google software engineers as they read our feeble essays on keyword density calculation. Can you say "Insider Trading?"

Anyone can do research. Research is hard, but the field is wide open. In order to be taken seriously, one of two requirements must be met when making an assertion:

  1. Cite another authoritative source who supports your assertion, or
  2. Demonstrate and document a repeatable methodology that supports your assertion.

It's that simple. These rules also apply to keyword density calculations.


Since we have truly have no clue, this site is as good as any. They certainly picked an appropriate domain name.

Keyword density advice: between 1 and 3 per cent, except when it's not.
Keyword density advice: between 1 and 3 per cent, except when it's not. | Source

Advice gleaned from the Internet

Here's some fun advice from randomly selected Interweb pages:

"The Ideal Keyword Density

Most search engine optimisation (sic) experts recommend a value of between 1 and 3 percent keyword density for any particular targeted keyword or key phrase. This value can vary dependant (sic) on the nature or format of the content, and also can depend highly upon the subject matter of the content itself.However, it is important not to over use the technique of putting keywords into content, as this results in a very high keyword density and is known as ‘keyword stuffing’."

We attribute http://www.rapidweb.biz/news/tag/keyword-density/ for this nugget. To their credit, their 'article' is date-stamped at Monday, March 1st, 2010 (it's a WordPress posting).

On the down-side, no source is cited. The 1 percent to 3 percent range for proper keyword density cannot be traced back to any authority.

Source

Advice from another source

"Using High Paying Keywords in the Website Content

Optimizing the website content with the high paying keywords is one of the most important aspects of the keyword optimization process.

  • The key to optimizing the website content with the high paying keywords is to try and include the keywords enough times to come up with a keyword density of between 2% and 5%. Anything over these percentages is considered keyword stuffing.
  • As long as the title keywords are strategically placed throughout the content to come up with the 2% and 5% density percentages, then the content should be optimized properly. There are hundreds of keyword density checking tools all over the internet that can be used to check the density of the website. Just do a search for "Free keyword density checking tool" and go from there."


The article is dated Aug 21, 2010, and credited to Nichole Mclain. No source is cited. From where do the numbers come? Why do they differ from the previous site?

It's all good

Figure out what works for you. Don't beat yourself up if your keyword density drops below 1% for over 15% of your articles on even numbered Sundays when it's raining.

Some of your articles will rocket to search engine prominence and others will sink like stones in the salmon stream where Sarah Palin struggles to catch dinner for her extended family.

What works today may not work tomorrow. Actually, what works today may hurt you tomorrow. Google may wake up one morning and elect to redefine optimal keyword density in such a way that your finely crafted articles no longer qualify to be indexed. You have no control.

Don't plan on making your mortgage payment based on the performance of your keywords and associated density. A financial windfall this month is not guaranteed to duplicate itself next month. Hopefully no self-respecting bank will loan money based on AdSense income as collateral.

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Comments 12 comments

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

I honestly don't even think about it. If a scanner should be able to understand any random paragraph they decided to slow down for, I think I'm probably doing fine.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA Author

@Pcunix : excellent point.


funride profile image

funride 5 years ago from Portugal

Never made those calculations... I have no idea about my hub`s keyword density. And when I`m writing a new hub I also never think about it... hope I`m doing it right! :D


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA Author

@funride : Hope is all we have. There is no authoritative source for a proper keyword density number or equation.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

I'm happy to say that I know even less about keyword density than I do about the Google Groundhog Phenomenon. It seems that the grounded inhabitants of the depths beneath Google Earth have developed a voracious appetite for these robot reading spiders who digest keywords in great density.

Once any of these spiders become fat with facts, they become delectable tidbits for the Google Groundhogs always foraging. This has distorted the algorithm. The Google Groundhogs are chomping on your keyword density like a swarm of locusts upon a field of grain. No amount of keywords will satiate the ravenous appetite of these beasts. Google cannot replace these robot reading spiders fast enough. They have a plan afoot to rectify this dearth.

Their staff will employ the endless stream of internet content writers who are fat with keywords in order to bait these Google Groundhogs beneath Google Earth. They are willing to sacrifice ten internet content writers to save a single robot reading spider.

Beware of the Google Groundhogs and your own density.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA Author

@sligobay : Indeed, it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway because it needs to be said...

Where was I? Anyway, your Groundhogs of Google bromide certainly rings as true as ostensible SEO experts blithely broadcasting keyword density advice with not a whit of supporting evidence.

Let us set the record straight: acceptable keyword density lies between 0 and 100%, inclusive. Stuff your entire article with keywords, like a Thanksgiving Turkey full of vowels and consonants, or make up words that have nothing to do with your verbiage and assign them as keywords. This advice and everything in between has been successful at one time or another.

On this we can all agree. I think. Many SEO experts concur, but I am not required to cite them or provide supporting evidence. That's life on The Interweb.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

What I wish to know is the truth about keyword density. If the keyword density is not known in the article, then the keyword density in a comment is equally unknown. Since we cannot control the keyword density of a comment, should the robotic reading spiders punish the writer of the article for his keyword density? The number of times that a term is used in a comment or article is keyword density but changes after the spider has passed. Will keyword density become known as dense keywords in the future? Why should "keywords" not have a synonym? They should be called "kiwis" but that might confuse those down under. KW's, like SEO's should have an acronym. Search Engine Optimization is a mouthful and so is "keyword density". This would be better stated as KWD. Don't get me started on "backlinks". Keep it dense and intense.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA Author

@sligobay : You have achieved a transient keyword density of 99.9%, but that may not be sufficient to rise to the level of keyword stuffing.

You see, this so-called density metric must extend over the width and breadth of the article fabric, rather than popping up as a keyword density vortex at the bottom.

So says me, and I am citing additional keyword density aficionados who also quote me back, thus creating a recursive keyword density callback structure, which Google simply adores.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

I know that keyword density loading has been addressed by the google god who is all knowing and all powerful. Wikipedia defines keyword density as a thickness of dense keywords smeared on a toasted bagle, much like creamed cheese. There can never be enough keyword density as there can never be too much cream cheese. KWD's are much like IUD's in that they are installed to interfere with the attachment of a fertilized ovary to a uterine wall; i.e. keyword density interuptus. No amount of keyword density is wrong according to the American Association of Fun and Phonetics which is the foremost authority in keyword density.


psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 5 years ago

Cheese sandwiches was a great read for me (I did go there) and commenting on cheese sandwiches here you would think has lowered the keyword density of keywords but the last two uses of keyword in which keyword was also used making it another instance of itself to explain what I just said has inadvertently increased the density I tried to lower! Happy New Year Nicomp.


Mark Ewbie profile image

Mark Ewbie 5 years ago from Euroland

I like reading articles about keyword density and search optimisation. It makes me feel clever, and a real part of what is going on. I might one day be able to write about keys using real words in a fairly dense manner.


Dale 5 years ago

Best...hub...ever! LOL! In addition to the fact that absolutely no one knows what the optimal keyword density truly is, no one seems to know how to properly calculate it. I've looked at a dozen or so calculators and they all provide different results.

I guess it's like shoe sizes. Every brand name seems to think a size 10 1/2 means something different, so Nike's 10 1/2 is different from Reebok's 10 1/2 and so on.

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