The optimal keyword density: Why you should never pay attention to this value again

Veröffentlicht: 12. April 2024

In terms of search engine optimization, the myth of optimal keyword density, WDF IDF scores and the like has been circulating for many years.

And today I would like to show you why you should forget this value. But let’s start from the beginning.

Keyword density measures the ratio of a specific keyword to the entire text. It is expressed as a percentage and indicates how often a keyword appears in relation to the total number of words in a text.

Short version in under 60 seconds

Keywords help search engines like Google to understand what your content is about. With the right use of keywords, you can make your content more relevant for search engines.

So I just have to use a keyword often enough to rank number 1 on Google?

Formula for the keyword density MEME

No. Unfortunately, I have to take away your illusion.

Danger of keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing (using keywords far too often) can actually undermine your SEO efforts and will affect the readability of your text. Search engines today are intelligent enough to recognize and penalize unnatural texts.

Sure, but this is about the right ratio! What about the infamous 1 – 2% keyword density?

This value is now simply outdated and it makes little sense to focus on it. Let’s look at a few practical examples.

Forget the keyword density

To illustrate this, I analyzed the SERPs of 3 competitive keywords:

“Book flights”
“Photovoltaics”
…and “Playing poker online”

Let’s start with example #1 “Booking flights”

Keyword density analysis for SERPs of "book flights"
Exact match keyword density for the SERPs for “book flights”

Can you see any correlation between the keyword density and the placement in the search results?

Me neither.

1st – 6th places are somewhere between 0.5 and 1%.
7th – 10th place does not even use any exact match keywords.
The results on page 2 have a significantly higher keyword density, while other results further back are in the 0.5 – 1% range.

So the ratio doesn’t really seem to play a role here. Let’s take a look at the next keyword.

Example #2 “Photovoltaics”

exact match keyword ratio photovoltaics

“Less is more” probably sums it up quite well here. The top positions tend to have a lower keyword density than the results on the back pages.

Here, too, we see positions 1 – 6 with a ratio of 0.5 – 1%. So is this the magic value to trick the search engines?

Example #3 “Playing online poker”

Keyword Density Analysis for SERPs of "Play online poker"
Exact match keyword density for the SERPs for “play online poker”

You probably didn’t expect the graph? On the first results, we actually don’t find any exact match keywords in the text. That is quite remarkable.

Let’s take a closer look at the phrases and words used:

phrases and keywords used in serps on "online poker games"

What am I getting at here?

Quite simply: these days, you should think in terms of topics for your content.

Google is advanced enough to understand semantic and thematic correlations. You no longer have to use a certain keyword X times to rank for it or to be considered relevant by search engines.

Use semantic concepts instead

Semantic SEO refers to the strategy of reinforcing meaning and connections between terms within a piece of content, rather than just focusing on individual keywords.

So this is about integrating synonyms, related terms and contextual keywords to expand the depth and topic of your content.

Search engines use advanced algorithms such as RankBrain that utilize artificial intelligence to better understand the intent behind search queries and deliver content that not only contains the exact search terms, but also covers the entire topical relevance.

To do this effectively, it is important to create comprehensive content that uses natural language patterns and has a clear structure, for example by using HTML tags such as headings that help to semantically reinforce the structure of the topic.

Tools that support you

You can use some SEO tools to enrich your texts with additional relevant terms and phrases:

Some plugins such as YoastSEO or RankMath also offer such features for WordPress users, even if they are not particularly extensive.

Conclusion: Optimal use of keywords in practice

Okay, I hope you have now thrown the concept of keyword density overboard and will no longer be bothered by it. But how should you handle the use of keywords in practice?

Actually quite simple:

Key Takeaway

Use a natural writing style, if you devote yourself extensively to a topic you will use relevant keywords all by yourself. You can then do some fine-tuning with semantic SEO tools and add more keywords and phrases if necessary. Done!

Important: You should still include your most important keywords in the meta title and headings!

And before you even start, you should of course have carried out a thorough keyword analysis .

FAQs on keyword density

  • Can too much keyword density harm my SEO? Yes, this is considered keyword stuffing and can have negative effects.
  • Is there an ideal keyword density? No, there are guide values of 1 to 2% in circulation, but forget that.
  • Do SEO tools really help to improve keyword density? Yes, they offer valuable insights and enable effective optimization.
  • Will keyword density remain relevant? No, it’s more important to focus on creating high-quality, relevant and well-structured content that offers real value to readers. In the future, search engines will understand semantic concepts better and better and thus become less dependent on individual keywords.
Hannes Kaltofen

Hannes Kaltofen

Gründer & Geschäftsführer

Seit über 7 Jahren in den SERPs unterwegs. Dank SEO konnte Ich das Affiliate Marketing, Blogging und Agenturgeschäft kennelernen und helfe Unternehmen tagtäglich bei ihrer Sichtbarkeit.

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