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The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Density for Effective SEO

The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Density for Effective SEO
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Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword appears in content or a web page compared to the total number of words. Search engines can understand context and relevance instead of the frequency of keywords. Nevertheless, keyword density is still an essential aspect of SEO.

This article will explain how to calculate keyword density and the ideal score to aim for. Additionally, we will tackle the importance of keyword research in keyword recurrence. Finally, we will review some practices to use and avoid when deciding your keyword frequency.

Keep reading to learn more.

How to calculate keyword density

To manually calculate keyword density, divide the number of times your keyword appears by the total number of words in your content. Afterward, multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage. Another way to measure keyword density is by using the TF-IDF method. This abbreviation stands for Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency.

Term Frequency refers to the number of times a keyword appears in content divided by the total number of words. The idea is the more frequently a keyword appears, the more critical it is.

Inverse Document Frequency refers to the total number of web pages on your website divided by the number of web pages containing a keyword. The idea is the more unique a keyword is, the more information it provides. You can calculate the TD-IDF score by multiplying the TF value by the IDF value.

While both these methods are accurate, they take more work to calculate. Let’s look at some tools that handle the math for you.

SEO Review Tools

seo review tools

To use this tool, paste your website’s URL or content and click “Perform check.” The web-based checker takes a few seconds to show you the result of your keyword density. It color-codes excessively used keywords, so you can adjust as needed.

Additionally, this tool allows you to exclude phrases you don’t want it to check for.

Small SEO Tools

This tool takes a direct approach to calculating keyword density. Paste your website’s URL or page content to the textbox and click “Explore Keyword Density.” The results will take less than 5 seconds to display.


SEMRush is a popular on-page SEO checker that scans your content for keyword density. The tool displays this metric as “Keyword phrase usage.” In addition to showing you the frequency of keywords on your website, it also displays the density of your competitors’ websites. How nifty?

SEMRush’s keyword density and other SEO tools are available at a monthly subscription starting at $119.95.


To check your keyword density on Duplichecker, input your web page’s URL and specify whether to include the meta and titles in the results. This tool also lets you define how many keywords to check for and the number of words per phrase.

The best part? It’s completely free!

Ideal keyword density

Now that you know keyword density, what score should you aim for? There’s no hard rule to abide by. However, aim for 1 to 2% density to keep your content relevant without stuffing keywords. This score means that for every 100 words, your keyword should appear 1 to 2 times.

Keyword research

Keyword research

Keyword research involves identifying phrases your audience uses when searching online. Proper keyword research informs you of the appropriate keyword density to aim for to make sure your content appears in their search results.

You can better understand your niche’s trends, topics, and conversations through keyword research. You’re able to keep up with the ever-changing interests of your audience. This practice also helps you identify related keywords to avoid keyword stuffing.

Let’s look at how to choose relevant keywords.

How to choose relevant keywords

Keywords are only helpful when they’re relevant to your targeted audience. Choosing these keywords and their variations is vital in determining keyword density. Here are the steps to follow when selecting appropriate keywords.

Define your target audience

Your target audience dictates your keywords and how frequently you use them. Since tracking each of them is impractical, we will give you some tips to help you identify them.

  • Identify the features and benefits your products or services provide. This knowledge will inform you of the demographic that needs your brand the most.
  • Conduct market research to learn more about your intended audience. Review demographic data from surveys, focus groups, and relevant research articles. This data includes age, location, gender, and income. Additionally, look at the psychographic data of your selected group, such as values and attitudes.
  • Analyze your competition to identify the audience they cater to. Identify market gaps your competitors leave open and focus on catering to these ignored audiences. 
  • Create fictional representations of your target consumers called buyer personas. Doing so helps you structure your SEO strategy based on their preferences. 
  • Test and refine your strategy by running targeted campaigns and analyzing the results. Make needed adjustments afterward to perfect your targeted keywords. 

Brainstorm keyword ideas

The next step is generating some keyword ideas. How do you go about it?

  • Identify your niche and the themes that exist under it. For example, the art niche has themes such as painting and photography.
  • Search your niche and related themes on Google to know the most popular keywords that rank for that content.
  • Run your competitors’ websites through keyword research tools to see their keywords.
  • Create surveys for your existing customers to disclose their words when searching the internet.

Use keyword research tools

Keyword generators inform you of your keywords’ relevance, difficulty, and competition. They also suggest keywords that work better than your initial ideas. SEMRush and Ahrefs are popular options to consider.

Analyze your audience’s intent

Keyword research is only relevant with knowledge of what people use them for. Search intent falls under three categories.

  • Navigational keywords that people use when looking for a specific site. If this is your audience’s intent, your keywords should contain your site’s name and web page titles.
  • Informational keywords. An audience uses this intent to seek answers or information about a brand. For informational purposes, include phrases such as “what is” and “how to” in your content.
  • Transactional keywords. Your audience will use this intent when looking to complete a purchase. For transactional internet, include “for sale” and “discount.”

Refine and update your keywords

The final step is to refine your keywords based on your research findings. Remove keywords with high competition and ones that are hard to rank. You should also prioritize long tail keywords. These keywords contain more than three words in a phrase and are specific. Long Tail keywords include a characteristic of your audience in them, thus making them more relevant.

Combine keyword research with appropriate keyword density, and your SEO strategy attracts quality traffic.

Best practices for keyword density

As a website owner, trying to hit the perfect frequency score can be challenging. Follow these practices to help you optimize your keywords and avoid harming your SEO strategy.

1. Keyword placement

Keyword placement

Keyword placement is a vital part of ensuring appropriate keyword density. Improper placement makes your content unnatural for readers, and you’re more likely to stuff keywords. So how do you find the balance?

  • Use your keyword once in the title tag to help search engines understand the context of your web page.
  • Use your keyword once in the meta description to convince an audience to click on your website on the SERP.
  • Use your keyword in headings and subheadings to structure your content and make it easy for an audience to follow.
  • Use your keyword naturally in your content’s body without it seeming forced. Reread your content afterward, and remove keywords that appear overused. Have someone else go over it to get an unbiased opinion. 

2. Use synonyms

In 2013, Google released a search engine update called Hummingbird. This update allowed web crawlers to understand context instead of individual words. As a result, the search model can now recognize synonyms of keywords.

Additionally, synonyms make your content diverse and exciting to read. Monotonous content is sure to drive your audience away. Don’t worry; the algorithm will appreciate your efforts too.

3. Use LSI keywords

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords, also called related keywords, are semantically related to a primary keyword. Many people confuse these keywords for synonyms. Synonyms mean the same as a word, while LSI exists in the same context as a primary keyword.

For example, if the primary keyword is “SEO strategy,” then LSI keywords may include “Google Analytics” and “digital marketing.” All these words can exist in the same content.

4. Focus on high-quality content

It is easy to forget you’re making content for humans in SEO. Many people focus on optimizing web pages for search engines. Ensure your content is informative, fact-based, and natural. Use keywords where they make sense without striving to hit a specific target.

Common mistakes to avoid

Common mistakes to avoid

Knowing common errors to look out for helps you craft a keyword density that attracts audiences and improves your ranking. Here are some things website owners need to correct regarding keyword density.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the placement of excess keywords in web content in an attempt to manipulate search engine results. Many regard this practice as the key to keyword density, but it harms your SEO strategy.

Here’s an example of keyword stuffing, “Best Pizza in New York City | Pizza Delivery | Pizza Restaurant | Pizza Menu.”

In the past, keyword stuffing boosted your ranking since the algorithm relied on the frequency of your keywords. Presently, Google states in its spam policies that sites that try to manipulate the algorithm will rank lower or not rank at all.

Keyword stuffing can take different forms. Here are some ways website owners are guilty of this practice.

  • They fill the content with repetitive keywords without considering readability or context.
  • Hiding keywords in a sneaky technique called “cloaking.” You do this by writing paragraphs full of keywords and making them the same color as the text background. Web crawlers can see the keywords, but your audience cannot. 
  • They stuff keywords in meta tags, such as title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. 

Using irrelevant keywords

Irrelevant keywords sabotage your SEO strategy and make it difficult for readers to understand your content. Aiming for the perfect frequency relies on the keyword’s relevance to search queries.

To ensure you use relevant keywords, focus on user intent. Intent helps you create targeted content that search engines can suggest to internet users.

Ignoring other aspects of SEO

While keyword density is essential to SEO, it is not the only aspect. Focusing only on density neglects other factors, such as website structure and backlinking. As a result, you hit the correct density score but need to optimize your website for search engine ranking.

You need to analyze your competitors

To keep up with competitors in your niche, you must analyze their metrics and match or surpass them. In this context, analyze their keyword density and placement to determine and adopt what works.

In SEO, analyzing your competitors informs you of gaps in the market. Create keywords around these gaps to attract new audiences.

Neglecting user experience

The ultimate goal of SEO is to provide an excellent user experience. Focusing on search engines when determining keyword density and placement will do more harm than good. Fewer people will stay on your site if your content is over-optimized, challenging to read, and stuffed with keywords. As a result, your website will rank lower on the SERP.


Keyword density is still a relevant metric to watch in 2023. Your content relies on a good score to rank well and avoid violating Google’s spam policies. An excellent keyword frequency strategy involves knowing the appropriate placement, using synonyms, and focusing on relevant content with humans in mind.

Avoid falling for mistakes, such as keyword stuffing that will cause search engines to penalize your website. It helps to have a third party revise your content to inform you whether the keywords sound natural. Remember this guide when optimizing an effective SEO to attract more audiences to your brand.