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Keyword Density: Hit or Myth?

Depending on who you talk to, Keyword Density is either extremely important, or it has no relevance at all and is a myth which is pimped by the ignorant.
Given the importance of search engine rankings and the algorithms which determine where your site will rank for a keyword or phrase, we need to know the answer.

“Keyword Density is the number of times a keyword (or key phrase) appears on a webpage expressed as a percentage ratio to the total number of words on the webpage.”

The idea that to rank for a specific keyword you will have to include that keyword on your webpage to gain a mention by the search engines is obvious. It is plain common sense that to get a ranking in the search engines for a specific search term you should include it in your webpage, The more times the keyword is mentioned on your webpage then the more likely it is that you will be considered “relevant”, i.e. get a higher ranking.

But wait!

There must be a cut-off point beyond which you will get penalized by the search engine because you are spamming, rather than delivering what search engines are looking for – relevant information to return to the searching user.

If you want to rank for “Widget”, there must be an optimal number of times or % density for using that keyword in your webpage. Simply creating a page with the word “widget” endlessly repeated serves no purpose, but where is the upper limit and what is the lower limit for using “widget”?

So, what is an Optimal Keyword Density?

We are now heading down the road of common sense – the same road which led to people being burned at the stake for saying the earth was not flat!

The first question we ought to be asking is, “Do the search engines think Keyword Density is important?”
The following is telling… there is no patent filed anywhere, by any search engine dealing with Keyword Density!

There are some patents filed by the likes of Microsoft, but they only peripherally deal with the specific application of broad concepts as they impact on other issues. Search engines don’t seem to be concerned about how Keyword Density is worked out or how it can be manipulated in their algorithms.

Clearly, Keyword Density has no importance in the eyes of Google and friends!

So, deciding what is optimal keyword density is simply asking how long a piece of string is – pointless.

Practical Use of Keyword Density

Practically, it makes sense to mention the keyword or phrase in your webpage, and to ensure that it is used in your relevant headings (H1 tags and other Meta data) and within your anchor text when linking to and from the webpage, but beyond that there is unlikely to be any advantage gained.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t monitor Keyword Density because you may be inadvertently doing something which will actually tip you over the edge into being classified as a “spam site”. In this respect, Keyword Density monitoring is something to be done to ensure you avoid penalties rather than to gain competitive advantage.


There is no such thing as optimal Keyword Density, because the use of the ratio is irrelevant for gaining higher search engine rankings.

Search engines have not patented the use of Keyword Density which means they don’t think it is important in how they are calculating rankings.

Monitoring Keyword Density is important to ensure you are not overusing keywords, which is a behavior associated with spam sites and will result in a ranking penalty.

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