SEO copywriting and keyword density – The fact and the fiction

October 16, 2006 •

One of the most important aspects of optimizing your copywriting for search engines (SEO) is your web copy. Google and the other search engines read the words in your page copy to figure out what your site is about and which searches they should display it in.

But they don’t read copywriting like humans. We actually make sense of the individual words and their combinations, (phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages, page hierarchies, etc). We even take visual design and aural elements into account.

Search engines aren’t that sophisticated (even Google!). In fact, they don’t really process meaning at all; they categorize a site’s subject matter based on the words that are used most often in the body copy, headings, links, etc. The logic behind this behavior is that if a site is about widgets, the word “widgets” – and similar words – will naturally appear in these places at quite a high frequency. (That’s a little simplistic, but it’s about as much as most of us need to know about how search engines work. Their indexing algorithms involve incredibly complex maths – more than my little brain can handle! Learn more about how search engines evaluate content.)

So if you want your site to appear in the search results for “cheap glazier”, then you’d use that phrase relatively often throughout your site’s copywriting. This is known as ‘keyword density’. Simply put, keyword density is a measure of the number of times your keyword appears on a page expressed as a percentage of the total wordcount of that page. For example, if your page has 100 words, and your keyword phrase appears 5 times, its density is 5%. (Here’s an easy-to-use keyword density calculator.)

Keyword density is a particularly problematic concept, mostly because people place great emphasis on it, when, in fact, the search engines don’t measure density like that at all. So when you hear all the rules about what density you should be aiming for, always bear that in mind. Don’t start thinking that the search engines are looking for a density of 5% or 3% or 10%; they’re not. The important thing is that you use your keywords more often than any other single word or phrase.

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Divine Write Copywriting Blog : Blog Archive : Essential advice on increasing keyword density without compromising readability wrote on October 18th, 2006

[...] Although you shouldn’t get too hung up on keyword density (see my previous post on SEO copy keyword density for an explanation), if you’re aiming for a density of around 2-3%, you’ll find that this isn’t easy to achieve, without compromising the readability of your copy. [...]

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Geoff wrote on October 19th, 2006

I agree. The dilemma with keyword density is SEO versus relevance to online readers. You want to rank well but not at the cost of alienating your audience with cold, redundant copy. That said, the important thing is to focus your energy on a small handful of words that you want to own in terms of ranking. Use them appropriately, sprinkle them throughout the entire site, and apply legitimate headings and links to them for solid results. I think the myth is that there is a fast-track to first page rankings, which is untrue. Black hat tricks that accomplish the goal are only shirt-lived and will hurt your business in the long-run when the engine finds you out. Steady focus on relevant terms will produce results, but realistic long-terms goals need to be set to see them happen. Thanks for the post. Geoff www.punctuatecopy.com

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Glenn (Owner) wrote on October 19th, 2006

Couldn't agree more! Thanks for the comment, Geoff.

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Divine Write Copywriting Blog : Blog Archive : What if I want to target more than one keyword in my SEO copy? wrote on October 23rd, 2006

[...] NOTE: When thinking about keyword density, please bear in mind my previous entries on keyword density in SEO copy. Tags:Copywriting, keyword density, keyword selection, multiple keywords, SEO Copy Web CopyPopularity: unranked Posted in Uncategorized, Copywriting, Web Copy, SEO Copy, Keyword Density | [...]

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Divine Write Copywriting Blog : Blog Archive : Do I have to target exact phrases in my seo copy? wrote on October 25th, 2006

[...] As always, the important thing to remember is that human visitors are more important than search engines. What’s more, keyword density is not the be-all-and-end-all of SEO. (Please see my previous post on keyword density in your SEO copy.) [...]

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seo sydney wrote on September 2nd, 2010

I really like and agree with the post that google and the other search engines read the words on your page to figure out what your site is about and which searches they should display it in, Thanks for giving this information about keyword density.

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Do I have to target exact phrases in my SEO copy? wrote on April 22nd, 2015

[…] As always, the important thing to remember is that human visitors are more important than search engines. What’s more, keyword density is not the be-all-and-end-all of SEO. (Please see my previous post on keyword density in your SEO copy.) […]

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Can I target more than one keyword in my SEO copy? wrote on April 22nd, 2015

[…] NOTE: When thinking about keyword density, please bear in mind my previous entries on keyword density in SEO copy. […]

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SEO copy: Increase keyword frequency without killing the copy wrote on April 22nd, 2015

[…] you shouldn’t get too hung up on keyword density (see my previous post on SEO copy keyword density for an explanation), if you’re aiming for a density of around 2-3%, you’ll find that this […]

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