DIY SEO TIP #4: Keyword Density is Obsolete in Google

A Saskatoon based SEO company.

Another magic metric early search engine optimization specialists used to preach was “keyword density”.

And for good reason. It worked on all major search engines.

Back in the late 1990s and the early part of the new century, keyword density was a critical part of the equation when you wanted to get your web pages to rank higher than your competition. In fact, when I first started out back in 2002-2003, the mentors I learned from actually broke down a precise keyword density pattern.

We would write a piece of content for publication on a web property, and follow something like this:

1) so many main target keywords MUST be in first paragraph, or

2) main target keyword MUST be in first sentence, or

3) main target keyword MUST be in every paragraph, or

4) main target keyword MUST be in last sentence, or

5) secondary keywords MUST be in every second paragraph

You get the point.

Then LSI metrics came into play, and there are still companies selling tools for this. LSI is an acronym for “Latent Semantic Indexing” which was a fancy way of saying “keywords related to the main target keywords”. For example, if your main target keyword phrase is “plumbers in saskatoon”, then you would want keywords such as these included: pipes, toilet, bathtub, clogged, washroom, SK, saskatchewan, millar ave, broadway theatre, 8th street, 2nd street, yxe, etc.

Believe it or not, there are still companies profiting with the sale of software that generates LSI keywords for the production of article writing. And like most SEO tools out there, there is still a very small value in using them because this may or may not help your web page ranking in Bing, Yahoo. However, I believe the value for Bing and Yahoo ranking is dropping more every year as these search engines are getting more and more sophisticated.

Most experienced SEO specialists will agree with me that keyword density is almost irrelevant with Google, but there are newbies still trying to figure out what LSI means and how to apply it to their content.

So lets not take my word for it. I’m just another SEO with an opinion after all. Here is what John Mueller (Google Webmaster Trends Analyst) had to say about keyword density 5 years ago (keyword density is even less relevant now in 2019):

keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there.

Of course there are SEO experts who will disagree with me because they have invested a great deal of time publishing content about the importance of keywords density and LSI metrics. Some are making a profit selling tools for keyword density and LSI, and they’re really not happy with opinions like mine. I get it, I understand, I empathize – but I’m not telling my clients, friends, and family to waste their time with such tools and concepts.

My suggestion has been the same for over a decade now (same as Google webmaster guidelines). Just write and create your content for your visitors so they can get SOMETHING from your ideas. Even if they only learn a little bit about a subject or theory. Even if they’re just entertained. Whatever the goal of the web page you’re creating, just write it up naturally and let the keyword phrases fall where they may.

And if you are a newbie SEO try this just for fun. Write a good piece of content naturally, just for the sole purpose of getting your point(s) across and help your readership out. When you’re all done, and you’re happy with the level of content you’ve provided, publish it and then test it with the latest LSI or keyword density tool.

You’ll be amazed at how varied your “scores” are from page to page, and how HIGH your density will be when you’re writing naturally. I’m not going to link to any tools because I believe they’re all bunk, but I’m sure a quick Duck Duck Go search will reveal a nice little slurry of tools to try (G, B, Y are fine too).

As the years push on into 2020 and beyond, keyword density will become even less relevant. What really makes a web page or web site rank is a combination of “things”, and there is no longer a “one size fits all” approach to content creation.

But that line of discussion is for another day on a MUCH LONGER post.


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