How Many Times Should You Use a Keyword on a Page? [The Evidence]
Every 150 words. 1-2% of the overall content. Three to six times. Ask an SEO expert, "How many times should you use a keyword on a page," and you'll receive a different answer every time. It's a surefire way to know most responses are nonsense.
That doesn't mean your SEO keyword density doesn't matter.
Gone are the days of cramming a keyword into your content so many times it becomes unreadable. Google will penalize high keyword density. So, that surely means there's a sweet spot? If so, what is it? That's what we're answering below.
What is Keyword Density?
Keyword density, or keyword frequency, refers to the number of times a specific keyword appears on a webpage. Usually, it's reported as a percentage or ratio – i.e., the number of times the keyword appears divided by the number of words on the page.
As a rule, primary keywords – the main keyword you're targeting – should appear more than secondary keywords.
Why does this matter? Because keywords are how Google ranks your content, ensuring you've referenced the relevant keyword the optimum number of times will help you get ranked. On the other hand, calculating your keyword density also prevents you from stuffing your content with as many keywords as possible.
What is Keyword Stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is a "black hat" SEO practice that involves using a particular keyword an extremely high number of times. Doing so is supposed to trick search engines into ranking your page. While such techniques worked in the wild west days of the 2000s, black hat tactics are now more likely to get your website flagged by the Google algorithm.
In short: NEVER keyword stuff!
What is the Optimum Keyword Density?
Forget hard and fast rules for keyword density beyond do not overstuff. Certain long-tail keywords are hard to add more than a handful of times per article; in contrast, if you're writing a post about "tonsillitis," trying not to use this term can make the content even less readable.
As a rule of thumb, use a keyword every 100 words or so. That works out to a 1-2% keyword density. However, some experts say search engines respond well to a minimum keyword density of around 0.5%.
Where possible, use keyword variants – these are terms similar, but not identical, to your initial keyword. For example, I could use the term keyword frequency in place of keyword density, or an article about tonsillitis could refer to tonsil inflammation.
Best Keyword Density Tools
There's no need to count your keywords. Use these keyword frequency tools to calculate how often a term appears:
A free, browser-based tool. Input your site URL or page text and complete the "I'm not a robot" captcha to perform a keyword density check.
Provides a colour warning for keywords with a high level of appearance and a breakdown of the keywords by word number. It allows you to exclude certain phrases.
Doesn't offer in-depth analytics of other options.
A free tool that requires an account. Along with basic keyword density reports, this tool lets you search for your target keyword in Google, pull data for five top-ranked pages using the same keyword, then analyze them.
Allows you to include meta information and exclude "stop words," which tend to appear often in a text (like "does," "a," "the," etc.). You can set a minimum word length to include words meeting certain character count criteria.
Requires an account to use.
This tool shows your top keywords by density and colour code terms that come up often.
Its simplicity and user-friendliness make it a good option if you're looking for a quick, at-a-glance keyword density check. You can then sign up for a Copywritely account to check and correct errors.
It is more limited than the others in that it doesn't give you the option to exclude stop words or include meta descriptions.
Semrush's powerful on-page SEO checker includes a keyword density checker named "keyword phrase usage" within the tool. It also includes automated SEO checkups and reports, assessments for titles and metadata, backlink prospecting tools, and in-depth site crawls, scans, and reports.
Helps you compare your keyword density with your competition's. You can learn how often competitors use certain keywords, allowing you to get closer to their performance levels by adhering to the industry standard.
Comes at a premium price, starting at $119.95/month.
Perfecting keyword density is a balancing act. It's about making your content searchable without compromising readability. If SEO keyword optimization sounds complex, don't worry. Impeccable Writing is here to help.
Don't let keyword confusion hold you back. Schedule a free consultation today, and let's optimize your content together.