Is Keyword Density in SEO Still Relevant in 2020?

If there is one undeniable fact is that SEO parameters such as the keyword density in SEO change by the day. As an SEO content creator, it is crucial that one is always up-to-date with the changes in the SEO world. That way, you will remain relevant in your field amidst the changes. Some of the ranking factors that were key in SEO a few years ago are less relevant today. However, there are some ranking factors that have remained unchanged. The dynamics of those ranking factors is what changes by the day.

keyword density in SEO

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One of these ranking factors in SEO optimization is keyword density in SEO. That would thus raise the following question: What is keyword density in SEO? What is its connection with SEO? Is keyword density in SEO still relevant in 2020? If yes, why is it? and if no, why is it irrelevant? This article seeks to look into keyword density and its relevance in SEO in 2020.

What Are Keywords?

In SEO, keywords refer to a word, multiple words, or phrases that a user enters on a search engine, and there are websites listed on the results page. While a user will type certain search terms on a search engine, an SEO content creator will use keywords to optimize their content so that the webpage will rank on Google’s top results for certain keywords. An SEO content creator will want to include keywords in page titles, meta descriptions, subheadings, URLs, link anchor text, and in the content. It is important that one places the keyword strategically throughout the content.

LSI keywords refer to words and phrases that Google considers as semantically related to a certain topic. These keywords obtain the name from Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which is a natural-language processing technique that was developed in the 1980s.

Keyword Density

Keyword density in SEO refers to the number of times that that keyword appears within the total words on a page. Keyword density is also known as keyword frequency. This parameter is usually a percentage of the total number of words on a page. Therefore, it is not a number of keywords that appear in a page’s content. Rather, it is a ratio of the keywords and the total content. Therefore, the keyword density increases when the keyword appears more times in the content. When you analyze your content in a keyword density analyzer and notice that the keyword density is low, consider adding the keywords numerous times in the content to increase the keyword density in SEO.

keyword density in SEO

Take, for instance, this keyword density in SEO example; you have SEO content of 300 words, and then you have your keyword appearing 3 times in the content. The keyword density in that SEO content is 1 percent. Adding the keyword 3 more times to have 6 mentions of the keyword on the post will increase the keyword density to 2 percent.


This acronym stands for term frequency and inverse document frequency and refers to an advanced way of measuring keyword density and is used by most information retrieval systems. Usually, systems use a formula to calculate keyword density on a page. It further offsets the keyword density with an inverse document frequency number. What happens is that the words that are highly used in that document are deprioritized, and that will increase the frequency of the relevant keywords. Such formulas are useful in user modeling, data mining, and information retrieval.

Where Did It All Begin? The History of Keyword Density in SEO

Before we dig deep into keyword density and its relevance in SEO, let’s first consider the history of keyword density in SEO. Way back, web crawlers worked with library catalog systems except that they were more advanced. These systems were helpful in helping users find the information they were looking for. The system used metadata from a certain site as a file tab in their catalog. Over time, the websites could update the file tabs with priority keywords. That way, site engines would then organize sites according to their rightful position in the index.

Nevertheless, the earliest algorithms made sure that the content on a site should be similar to what was in the meta tags. Site engines such as Google wanted to come up with a way where the content would rank against the content available online, even if the sites with the content did not update their meta tags. Keyword density thus made provision for a way for site engines to measure, objectify, and understand the content on a web page.

keyword density in SEO

That meant that when a user was looking for a certain keyword on Google, and there is a website with a high keyword density, Google would automatically guess that the website was a great fit for that user. Later, there was an SEO strategist who came up with rules around keyword density and how it influenced a site’s rankings.

The Onset Of Keyword Stuffing

As keyword density in SEO gained popularity, some SEO content creators believed that they could hack SEO rankings by including as many keywords as they could on a certain length of content. Therefore, anyone who wanted a high ranking on a keyword density checker would include the keyword in the title, title tags, headings, meta description, and body. What this trend caused is the influx of content with a lot of fluff. The content felt forced and lost the authenticity that content should have. In some instances, content creators could add lengthy footers at the bottom of the webpage, which could have multiple words with different variations of the keyword. This technique of including a lot of keywords in online content is known as keyword stuffing. That time, keyword stuffing seemed to work well that it found its way into off-page SEO, creating backlinks with anchor text matching.

Google Catching Up

It wasn’t long before Google caught up and took relevant action. There was a Panda update that penalized sites that had shallow content and an unusual high keyword density. The Panda update also targeted sites that had manipulative tactics such as cloaked texts. Instead of trashing the keyword density metric, there were advanced systems that would detect any unnatural manipulation of the keyword density metric.

After that, there was balancing out with other on-site factors with the off-site look at trust signals. Those changes led to the advanced of search engines to what we know them to be today. Today, there are a number of usability and trust signals that, in combination with the search behavior of a search engine, will determine the relevance of a keyword. That way, a search engine will give users the best user experience in regard to the availability of quality content. To date, keyword density is a key parameter in the search algorithm of Google, but it is more complicated.

The Effect Of Keyword Density in SEO On Google Rankings

Now that you understand what keyword density is, how to calculate it, and its history, you may be wondering whether it affects Google rankings? Based on the discussion above, it is obvious that keyword stuffing affects a site’s rankings negatively. So, is keyword density any important?

Yes and no.

It is highly unlikely that a simple look at keywords words is a Google ranking factor. However, there is evidence that using a natural tone and including keywords appropriately in the content will improve Google rankings. Not only does that reinforce your site’s relevance, but also it improves user experience.

Consider keyword density in SEO as a topical compass. Not only is it objective and fast, but also it keeps your content tightly focused on the important concepts.

Keyword density is a critical element for any SEO content creator to include in their competitive analysis. Conduct this experiment: Google a certain keyword and use a tool to dig into the data behind the search results that appear on the first page of Google. The information you will obtain include the type of content, the length, the number of inbound links, type of inbound links, and keyword density. It is important to note the keyword density that is doing well in the search engine’s results for the particular keyword. That is a good starting point when determining the keyword density to use for your SEO content.

Keyword Variants

Do you know that Google handles approximately 5 billion searches in a day, of which 15 percent of the searches are completely new? Completely new searches mean that no one has looked up those keywords in the past. How you ask? The way in which people search for information has changed over the years. Artificial Intelligence and voice search are the main reasons why the interaction of users and search engines had changed over the years. Nowadays, there are hyper-specific search queries, questions, and sentences that drive organic traffic.

As a result, there is more emphasis on long-tail keywords and focus keywords play a greater role in SEO. Content relevance no longer depends on the exact repetition of the keywords. Every target keyword is a ‘bucket’ that holds modifiers, questions, plurals, rephrased searches, and other search terms. When any keyword is more like a ‘bucket,’ it is hard to determine the keyword density for that term. It is critical that you optimize any keywords that have a high search volume.

keyword density in SEO

However, keep in mind that you are not optimizing those terms alone. You are equally optimizing the searches and other keywords that are related to the keyword. While anchor terms are a great way to arrange your site and be the foundation of your SEO strategy, it is hard to reverse-engineer in regards to keyword density.

It Trickles Down To User Experience

Let’s go back to the earlier statistics. Remember that there are about 15 percent new searches everyday. These new searches have made Google to start a semantic way of indexing as their ranking algorithm becomes smarter by the day. For instance, a user searches on Google “where to find cars.” The user may be looking to buy a new car or hire a car rental. To determine the search term that the user intends for the best search results, Google offers personalized context such as the location of a user and the user’s search history on Google. Google is smart in a way that it will determine if the webpage is relevant contextually for a particular keyword.

For example, you are creating content for a restaurant’s webpage, and you want to rank for the keyword “best French cuisine’. There is no guarantee that keyword density optimization will help you rank well. That is because when people type in the word best, they are most likely looking for reviews from other users. Nevertheless, your site will ranking well for that keyword is it offers the contextual clues that Google looks for. Therefore, a detailed blog-post with keywords, reviews, and platforms will be in line with the search intent.

Here is a simple way to think about semantic indexing: Google works like topic clusters. The more your content is organized according to themes, the high the relevance you will obtain for your keyword.

What Is The Ideal Keyword Density For SEO?

Understanding how keyword density works leads to the question, what is the optimal keyword density for SEO? Is that even a thing? Well, yes. It is important to know the optimal keyword density for your SEO content. Instead of aiming to have a certain percentage of keyword density, consider these practices when determining the ideal keyword density for your SEO content:

  • There is no recommended keyword density on Google for content.
  • Always measure the keyword density for high-ranking content on Google for your target key phrase.
  • When you gave top-ranking content on certain topics, reference the keyword density for future content.
  • Keyword density tools and SEO books on keyword density recommend that you stick to a density range of between 3 to 5 percent. However, you should compromise creating content that provides the best user experience, and that is natural to a reader.
  • When building on the focus of each of your webpage, look for keywords that are contextual and semantic relationship with the target keywords. You can then incorporate these keywords into your content. When doing this, utilize tools which scan content to see the related keywords and terms that you are used in top pages.

The most important thinking to remember and incorporate is that you should always strive to create content that will provide an exemplary user experience.

Keyword Density Tools

Here are some of the SEO tools that you can use to measure keyword density in SEO:


This is an SEO plug-in on WordPress, and it does more than check the keyword density in content. Yoast is a great way for you to focus on keyword density as you build your content. The main goal of Yoast is to simplify the SEO process through the use of objective metrics. Therefore, the recommendations will vary from one case to another.

keyword density in SEO

There is a premium version of Yoast which recognizes other word forms as a keyword. Also, the keywords could be in one sentence but not consecutive and still count as a keyword mention. The tool does not register the keyword if it is broken over multiple sentences. The tool may also not recognize synonyms of the keywords and how the content relates to the keyword. Although Yoast cannot match Google’s sematic indexing style, it is a great way to track any goals you may have set depending on SERP research.

Moz On-Page Checker

This keyword density checker offers a detailed insight into keyword density. When using Moz on-page grader, enter a URL and focus they keyword on the tool. Moz will rank the the page depending on different factors such as page title and keyword density, among many more. An added advantage of this keyword density checker is that it targets the keywords that your competitors are using. That gives the content creator ideas to broaden their content and boost topical authority. SERP-based competitor analysis is also helpful when conducting keyword research.

Keyword density in SEO is a critical factor in SEO content creation. However, you can be sure that there is more about primary keyword density than meets the eye. In addition, there are other SEO factors that you need to incorporate with keyword density for SEO optimization. The different factors work collectively to produce quality content that offers the best user experience and high Google rankings.

As an SEO content creator, there is nothing wrong with seeking help with content creation. When in need of help in determining keyword density for your content, you should only liaise with the best. Script Millers is popular for being the leader in the provision of SEO services. The team at is conversant with the different metrics of SEO and work hard to give you content that gives you conversions and thrills your target audience.

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