Keyword Density Tips for Search Engine Rankings
Content writers and amateur web developers are often cognizant of the importance of keyword density—but many lack the knowledge needed to actually put this concept to beneficial use. One of the biggest myths about keyword density is that more is always better. But in reality, overburdening your website’s copy with key phrases will have a detrimental effect both on your reader’s experience and your search engine ranking. Keyword stuffed content obviously identifies itself as spam to both human viewers and search engine spiders.
Still, you shouldn’t completely ignore keyword density. But rather than aiming for a certain percentage—such as 1 or 3 percent—you should try to work keywords into a couple strategic errors. As long as it sounds natural, of course. Focus on the following areas:
This is the text that appears as the anchor text in the search engine results pages and in the title bar on the browser window. This shouldn’t be confused with the first heading on the page—the title, for our purposes, is the text that appears in the <TITLE> tag. You should use your keyword once—and only once—in the title.
Include your keyword in the <META> tag as well, with the “DESCRIPTION” attribute. This won’t boost your ranking in Google, but most search engines will use this text as your description in results listing. Oftentimes, search terms will be bolded in the description, which helps your site stand out.
Use your keywords in an <H1> heading tag once. Avoid using more than one <H1> tag.
Include your keyword in your URL once, either as a domain, sub-domain or filename. For example, if your keyword is “helicopter pilot” and your domain is pennsylvaniahelicopterpilot.com, it won't be necessary to have your filename repeat it. Instead, get more specific—such as pennsylvaniahelicopter.com/flight-schools.html. Using your keyword more than once in your URL may be construed as spammy and lately, has not been as critical to your search engine ranking as it once was.
Try including your keyword in bold when you do use it, but do so sparingly. This is a nice visual cue and also helps search engines get a fix on your subject matter.
Use the above as rules of thumb—feel free to bend or break them when the situation demands it. In general, best practices tend to follow usability standards. If you’re unsure over whether a certain strategy will help your search engine ranking, ask yourself instead if it will make your text more readable or navigable to a human user. The ultimate goal of search engine algorithms is to replicate the judgment of a human user—so if your site is optimized for a flesh and blood reader, technology will eventually catch up.
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