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SEO: Is Keyword Density Analysis Dead?

Sometimes I come across SEO posts that talk about the concept of “keyword density” as no longer being relevant. An archaic throwback to times long past, gone the way of the dodo bird just like paid links and reciprocal link building campaigns.

True, search engines do not place as much importance on the density of a search phrase as they used to. Gone are the days where a highly optimized web page can rank at the top of Yahoo within a few weeks of launch.

However, does this mean that running keyword density analysis on your most important web pages is no longer relevant? Absolutely not!

Running keyword density checks on targeted web pages can help ensure that a keyword or phrase is not being overused. A suggested keyword density is anywhere from 3%-6% (various SEO experts have their own opinions on optimal density). However, I have had keyword densities up to 8% and haven’t detected any sort of penalization. The key point here, though, is detecting whether you have used a keyword too often. If you have a keyword with a density of +10% then you are definitely playing with fire!

Another benefit is making sure that you haven’t forgotten to optimize a web page for a target key phrase. Every page in a web site should have a clearly defined purpose, as well as a set of target key phrases. By running a keyword density check on a given page you can see how often your target key phrases are used. Is there a phrase that was forgotten about? Is it possible to further optimize that page so that a target key phrase is used one more time?

Online Keyword Density Tools

There are lots of free, online keyword density tools out there. I often use the keyword density tool provided by SEO Book (a handy resource for SEO professionals).

Keyword Density Tool

When using this tool note that this tool lets you ignore small words with a given number of characters. There is also a default stop words list, where the density of stop words is not included in the report (knowing how often a common word like “the” is used in a web page isn’t important).

In summary, keyword density analysis still has a place in a professional SEO campaign. What has changed is the decreased impact that keyword densities have as a search engine ranking algorithm factor.

3 Responses to “SEO: Is Keyword Density Analysis Dead?

  1. Was it ever alive? I’ve always treated it like hocus pocus.

  2. As the search engines get better at semantic recognition, keyword density analysis seemingly becomes less important. At this point, I’m using keyword density to ensure that I’m not using the same words too many times for good readability as I’m using them for SEO analysis

  3. admin

    The important thing is using target key phrases throughout key locations in the optimized page.

    Yep, it was alive Dave: a good example is Yahoo. Up until they were bought by Microsoft having a high keyword density (in key locations) would get me to the top of Yahoo for moderately competitive target phrases within 4 weeks of site launch.

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