What’s the Right Keyword Density?

search engine optimization
Keyword density is hard to quantify. It’s a measurement of the number of times that your keywords appear on the page versus the number of words on a page — a ratio, in other words.

For example, if you have a single web page that has 1,000 words of text and your keyword appears on that page 10 times (assuming a single keyword, not a keyword phrase), then your keyword density is 1 percent.

What’s the right keyword density? That’s a question that no one has been able to answer definitively. Some experts say that your keyword density should be around 5 to 7 percent; others suggest that it should be higher or lower. No one seems to agree on exactly where it should be. Because there’s no hard-and-fast rule, or even a good rule of thumb, to dictate keyword densitysite owners are flying on their own. What is certain is that using a keyword or a set of keywords or phrases often begins to look like keyword stuffing to a search engine, which will negatively impact the ranking of your site.

Not enough keyword density and your site ranking suffers. Too much keyword density and your site ranking suffers. Fortunately, you can at least find out what keyword density your competitors are using by looking at the source code for their pages.

To view the source code of a page if you’re using Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to the page for which you would like to view the
source code.
2. Click View in the standard toolbar. The View (or Page) menu appears.
3. Select View Source. A separate window will open displaying the source code from the web
page you’re viewing.

If you’re using the Firefox browser, the menus are slightly different and the source code looks a little different. These are the steps for Firefox:

1. Open Firefox and navigate to the page for which you would like to view the source code.
2. Click View in the standard toolbar. The View menu appears.

The source code looks a little different in Internet Explorer than it does in Firefox, but the
basic information is all there. That said, it’s not very easy to get through this information. All
of the page text is jumbled in with the page encoding. It may take some time to decipher, but
ultimately, this is the best way to find out not only what keywords the competition is using, but also how they’re using them, and how often the keywords appear on their pages.

Taking Advantage of Organic Keywords

organic keyowrds
We’ve already covered brief information about organic keywords. As you may remember, organic keywords are those that appear naturally on your web site, and they contribute to the search engine ranking of the page. By taking advantage of those organic keywords, you can improve your site rankings without spending additional budget dollars. The problem is that gaining organic ranking alone can take four to six months or longer. 

To help speed the time it takes to achieve good rankings, many organizations (or individuals) use organic keywords in addition to some type of PPC (pay-per-click) or pay-for-inclusion service.

To take advantage of organic keywords, you first need to know what those keywords are. One way to find out is to us a web site application that collects visitor data, such as the one that Google provides, Google Analytics. Some of these services track the keywords that push users to your site. When viewing the reports associated with keywords, you can quickly see how your PPC keywords draw traffic, and what keywords in which you’re not investing still draw traffic.

Another way to discover organic keywords is to consider the words that would be associated
with your web site, product, or business name. For example, a writer might include various keywords about the area in which she specializes, but one keyword she won’t necessarily want to purchase is the word ‘‘writer,’’ which would be naturally occurring on the site.

The word won’t necessarily garner high traffic for you, but when that word is combined with
more specific keywords, perhaps keywords that you acquire through a PPC service, the organic words can help to push traffic to your site. Going back to the writer example, if the writer specializes in writing about AJAX, then the word ‘‘writer’’ might be an organic keyword, and ‘‘AJAX’’ might be a keyword that the writer bids for in a PPC service.

That way, when potential visitors use a search engine to search for ‘‘AJAX writer,’’ the writer’s site has a better chance of being listed higher in the results rankings. Of course, by using more specific terms related to AJAX in addition to writer, the chances are pretty good that the organic keyword combined with the PPC keywords will improve search rankings.

Therefore, when you consider organic keywords, think of words that you might not be willing to spend your budget on but that could help improve your search rankings, either alone or when combined with keywords in which you are willing to invest.

Where organic keywords are concerned, more specific is better. In fact, if you have a series of specific phrases that relate well to your site but to few other sites, those are good phrases to focus your organic efforts on. Those words should not only rank well in terms of Long Tail search, but also bring more qualified visitors to your site and serve as a solid foundation for any future PPC campaigns that you may begin.

Image source:  Google
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