Keyword density is something that clients will require for their content. While we fully understand the sentiment behind the concept, it is rather – unnatural. Obviously, the article that is written will want to include the required keyword a few times, but many are misinformed about the way in which Google is now ranking websites. In fact, this is not just a concept that we believe to be true, there are a plethora of resources found here, here and here. What does Google say about this?

Now, many of you are probably stating, “You can’t trust Matt Cutts! He works for Google! He is misleading!” While all of Google’s signals cannot be discussed and Matt is rather vague, there is definitely one thing that all major search engines want – quality. When quality is measured, the only true substance that a page has is the content that it contains.

But Keyword Density Used to Matter!

A few years ago, people were completely obsessed with keyword density and for good reason – it helped in the SERPS. There was a time when all a person had to do was stuff their content with keywords and they would rank highly. This was a time that came and went rather fast. While it may have benefited some, search engines could not prosper with that type of content. Why would anyone continue to utilize something that is flawed? If every result consisted of keyword stuffed content, Google would be in trouble. They realized this and this is shown with their recent updates.

Big Bad Panda

The rise of spun content was great for marketers. It was possible to “spin” one article and turn it into thousands. Using this content, a person could go out and rank for hundreds of keywords. The rise of article directories were plainly seen! Great – hardly readable content was being written at astonishing rates. In fact, people tried to fit the history of Ancient Egypt into a mere 200 – 300 word piece of content. Users were greatly benefiting by missing out on 99 percent of the history and seeing what could only be described as – a day in Ancient Egypt. This was low quality content, there was no real substance provided. Google had to do something drastic. What did they do? They rolled out Panda! This update targeted low quality content that was clearly made for search engines.

The Squeaky Penguin

Many people found ways around Panda and decided not to go with the hard working methods of ranking a website. Instead, people found ways to circumvent Panda’s grasp and their sites were ranking greatly. This was mostly done with spam tactics that actually worked. People made a lot of money off of these tactics, but when Penguin came about, a lot of people lost their income. This was devastating for some as they were just starting to make good money online. Penguin, while targeting spam, was another update that made it even more necessary to have high quality content.

Back to Keyword Density

Now that the ever-so-short history of Google updates has been discussed, it is time to look at keyword density again. Density, for all those that do not know, is how many times a given keyword is used within a copy. If a copy has 100 words and a 2 word keyword appears twice, the keyword density for that keyword would be 4 percent. A simple mathematical formula to calculate this would be:

((Keyword Length * occurrences) / total words) * 100

While there was once a time where this mattered greatly, Google started to take a new approach – Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI. This is where the industry is heading and something that many do not fully grasp.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing?

LSI is essentially figuring out what a piece of content relates to by the words that it contains. For example, a copy about dogs may contain the following words:

  • Leash, collar
  • Pit Bull, Labrador
  • Fur, shedding
  • Canine
  • Dog training, puppy, man’s best friend
  • House training, biting, teething, dog toys
  • Neuter, muzzle, aggression, food
  • Play catch
  • Crate train

All of these words, please bear-in-mind that these are thought up and not researched, all relate to one thing – dogs. In fact, the above words would be able to fit naturally into a dog training article and Google would not have a difficult time figuring out that the copy is training related. Now, if these words are within a text that is being optimized for “dog training”, has a few backlinks from high quality sites and has all of the proper on-page optimization – this article will rank higher in the search results.

Naturally Flowing Articles

The key to high quality articles is allowing the words to flow naturally. If the keyword shows up 1 – 3 percent of the time naturally, that is perfect. However, if the keyword has a density of 10 percent and hinders the article’s readability, this should never be utilized for a website that a person wants to make money from or utilize for their business. Human readability should be of the utmost importance. Does this mean that a copy should not contain the targeted keyword? Absolutely, not! This means to use keywords naturally, take advantage of on-page SEO and start utilizing LSI keywords.