Take the 2-minute tour ×
Webmasters Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for pro webmasters. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Let's say I have a standard issue web page with 500 - 600 words and I'm priming my page for two specific keywords (for the purposes of this example). We know that these words need to feature within the context of the page but how many times should they be used in the body text? How many times is too many? How few is too little? Does it even make any difference any more? Conventionally I have learned and used 2 to 7 % density and typically I've seen SEO organisations use roughly 4 % density for two word phrases.

If I want this page to perform well in the search engines what are the best practises in relation to densities? What strategies have worked for you on real world projects?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

In general terms keywords density DOES matter for Google ranking, you can easy test it by creating two identical pages indexed exactely once from the same page (just to let Google know they exist and index them). Then in one you place tow/three times more the keyword/keyphrase, than in the other one. You will see the 1st one will rank high maybe just one position, but still high.

Keywords stuffing does NOT matter in my own experience, and even if it matters it's bad SEO practice so it might result in penalizing your site, why risking that?!

share|improve this answer
+1 A pragmatic answer. Although my original question was not asking how to keyword stuff. Everybody knows that is a waste of time. –  BradB Oct 19 '10 at 8:49

Keyword stuffing has been abused so much that Google will penalize sites where keywords are repeated too much, tracking keyword density is not useless - it is actually harmful.

  • The most valuable locations on page are the page title and the h1 tag - make sure to use the keywords there.

  • Repeat the keywords in the page text maybe 2-3 more times.

  • Use synonyms - this will both prevent Google from penalizing you for keyword stuffing and get you some more "long tail" searches.

  • Write for humans not for search engines - after all, the whole point of getting someone to the site is to get that someone to take some action - don't get so obsessed about SEO that you forget that (SEO-heavy text is likely to make people immediately reach for the back button)

share|improve this answer
Your last point is the most vital. Trying to shoehorn keywords into places they're not wanted leads to terrible writing and low-quality content. –  DisgruntledGoat Oct 18 '10 at 9:08
@BradB: If you start paying the slightest attention to keyword density you are already keyword stuffing. Just write naturally and relevant keywords will appear in the page from good writing. –  DisgruntledGoat Oct 18 '10 at 9:10
@BradB: Writing naturally is writing content for users, not search engines, and not thinking about things like keyword density. If you just write good content (or hire an exceptional writer to write exceptional content), then you'll have a "natural" keyword density. I mean, if Google does prefer an ideal keyword density, how do you think they'd arrive at those figures? Probably by finding the median keyword density on pages with high quality content. So there's no point in trying to explicitly "optimize" your keyword density. –  Lèse majesté Oct 18 '10 at 9:31
@BradB - writing naturally is not writing to satisfy statistics, search engines look for keyword stuffing (among other things) and filter out "bad" pages, the algorithms are secret and nobody here knows the exact formula. the best way to avoid those penalties is to write the page you want your customer/user/reader to see after arriving at the site and not to write the page for search engines (of course, you should cover the basics like titles and h1) –  Nir Oct 18 '10 at 9:44
@BradB: There is a huge industry doing SEO, but not on optimizing keyword densities. In fact, most leading SEO firms (e.g. SEOmoz) do not aim for a particular keyword density and discourage its use as an SEO metric. Secondly, what is this obsession of yours with micro-optimizations? Is it that you cannot generate quality content? Or perhaps you feel that micro-optimizations which provide no value to users and negatively impact content quality is the sign of a true SEO? –  Lèse majesté Oct 18 '10 at 14:21

Keyword density is close to irrelevant, as evinced by the success of so-called Google bombing across most major search engines - links (and links' anchor text) matter more than on-site content; it doesn't hurt to use the keywords you want to rank for across your site, but the density is far less important than incoming links.

share|improve this answer
Google has made many changes to tackle Google Bombing, and it's not as prevalent as it once was. –  DisgruntledGoat Oct 18 '10 at 9:04
@DisgruntledGoat - By all appearances, (and as alluded to in the linked Wikipedia article) Google is correcting bombs on a case-by-case basis. For example: google.com/… –  danlefree Oct 18 '10 at 15:13
The google bomb solution seems to be algorithmic as George Bush's web page reappeared at #1 "miserable failure" after the word "failure" appeared on it again. –  John Conde Oct 18 '10 at 15:57
@John_Conde - Either my coffee isn't working or something was lost in translation - can you clarify what you mean? How did you arrive at the determination that Google is algorithmically filtering for bombs? (... and how does that explain "french military victories" as an active Google bomb?) –  danlefree Oct 18 '10 at 16:04
There's a blog post about our algorithmic handling of "Google bombs" at googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/01/… -- but all in all, I think "Google bombs" is not really relevant to a question about keyword density :). Regarding keyword density, as mentioned by @DisgruntledGoat, that's not really something worth focusing on. –  John Mueller Oct 19 '10 at 10:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.