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Inbound Marketing Blog

    7 Reasons Why Keyword Density in Article Content is SO 2008

    Posted by Jasmine Henry

    SEO Strategy for 2013

    <porry, but worrying about keyword density is the least of your concerns. For starters, there’s some really compelling evidence that an optimal density doesn’t exist. According to SEOMoz, major search engines update their algorithms 500-600 times a year. While many of these changes are minor, it’s clear that you can’t base your content marketing strategy on gaming search engines, because what small business-owner has the time to tweak their inbound marketing strategy twice a day?  Here are 7 more compelling reasons, facts and figures about why keyword density is so four years ago:

    1. Because Matt Cutts Says So

    Ever heard of Matt Cutts? If you’re blogging for better search rankings, he’s a good guy to know. As the head of the web spam team at Google, his job is to make it harder and harder each day to game search engines for a better ranking. His thoughts on optimal keyword density for blog content? “Density is not important...make writing sound natural.”

    2. Because Logic Says So

    How does Google stay in business and make an estimated $39.7 billion a year? By providing relevant, high-quality search results to people. 74% of plugged-in consumers go to the search engine first to pull information on products and services, instead of choosing to use YouTube, Bing or Yahoo.

    Sure, it provides a nice, clean-looking interface and a really simple user experience; but the main draw is that the engine is really good at pulling relevant information in response to search queries. Google has a reputation to uphold, and it understands that people don’t want thin content stuffed with keywords. The engine has no incentive for rewarding a high keyword density, so logic says it just won’t.

    3. Because Data Says So

    The really smart people behind Open Algorithm, a collaboration of braniacs dedicated to applying science to SEO, completed a study on 12,000 keywords across 1.2 million web pages. Using Spearman’s Rank correlation coefficient, a nerdy way to measure how related two factors are, they looked at how keyword density, Google +1s, inbound links, and the overall rank of the homepages affected where each page landed in search:

    keyword density in article content


    image credit: Open Algorithm

    For the unitiated or rusty, negative numbers in the graph above indicate a negative relationship. If Sam’s energy levels had a negative relationship with chamomile tea, each additional cup he drank would decrease his feelings of vitality. Turns out, a higher keyword density might actually drive lower search rankings, while +1s, good home page ranking and inbound links have a benefit. And that’s science!

    4. Context is Okay

    Google is actually sharper than you think, and it’s continually getting more adept at the concepts of context and semantics. If your HubSpot keyword grader recommendations tool says you should try and work with “8 Tips SEO,” you don’t have to stuff it into a title. In fact, you shouldn’t because it sounds really awkward and no one will ReTweet it. You can modify that to “8 Bomb Tips on SEO for 2013,” and still have shot at ranking, thanks to the fact Google is becoming a context engine.

    5. You May Be Missing the Point Entirely

    Have you ever been writing a piece of blog content and decided to cite a source because they included a long tail keyword 13 times in 600 words? Highly unlikely. People link to content that’s valuable, filled with fresh statistics, and written by well-regarded authors. Social media users ReTweet content with powerful blog titles. Your primary concern should be creating a high velocity of content that answers the questions of your real-life buyer personas, not fitting the world’s most awkward keyword into the body 19 times.

    6. There is No Optimal Density

    I dare you to try and find content written by a recognized white hat SEO expert (like Rand Fishkin or Adam Torkildson) in the last several months about the optimal keyword density of blog content. You’re going to have a really hard time. If you extend that time period to 2008, you’ll likely get an expert telling you to shoot for 6%. That approach may or may not get you dinged by Google, but it’s more likely to ensure you won’t win any social media shares, RSS subscribers or inbound links.

    7. Keywords Work Themselves Out

    Possibly the most compelling reason you don’t need to worry about keyword density is that, well, keywords tend to work themselves out. Suppose you’re writing blog content around “how to adopt the fluffiest kitten from the humane society.” If you include a close variation of the keyword in your title and twice more in your body and hit publish when you reach 600 words, you’ve hit a keyword density of 0.5%, all while writing naturally. And even Matt Cutts is bound to approve!

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    image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

    Topics: SEO