Are the Days of Keyword Density Over?

Posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, SEO

As many of you may have noticed, keyword density within content is becoming less and less significant when it comes to search engine rankings. The search engines are more intelligent than they once were and don’t need keywords shoved down their gullet 27 times within 400 words of content to figure out what your page should rank for. If you have a focused and unique Title Tag, combined with a focused and unique Meta Description and on-page content, they probably already have a clear idea of how they should index your content. Just because you have more keywords or the exact same amount of keywords as the top ranking sites in a search engine, it doesn’t mean you’re going to rank; especially if you’re just relying on content. I mean it doesn’t hurt to look, but it shouldn’t completely control your content.

The entire goal of a search engine is to provide searchers with content that relates to their search query AND provides a significant depth of topical content. Having a keyword 27 times on a page isn’t going to convince any search engine that you have a significant depth of topical content.  But what can convince them is if you have the right combination of words.

Keyword Diversity vs. Density

This isn’t a new concept, but definitely one that’s starting to get more exposure and discussion. The fundamental idea behind keyword diversity vs. density is that when you naturally write about a topic, you’re going to include a range of terms that all relate to the larger topic being discussed.

For example, if you’re writing a paper/article/report on 2009 Hybrid Cars, you’re naturally going to include terms like “Toyota Prius”, “Ford Fusion”, and “plug-in capabilities” in your content. On the other hand, you probably aren’t going to include the term “2009 Hybrid Cars” 20 times. If you were to read an article that did have the term “2009 Hybrid Cars” 20 times and didn’t include terms like “Toyota Prius”, you’d question the validity and expertise of the article.

The search engines are the same way, or at least they’re moving in that direction. The intelligence of the search engine algorithms is increasing by leaps and bounds year after year, so it’s no surprise that they’re capable of analyzing content from a content and keyword relevancy standpoint rather than a “whoever has the most keyword usage wins” perspective. And it’s very refreshing to see the search engines turning this way. Of course it will make content optimization significantly more difficult, but it will help to ensure that the optimization work that is done is more about creating better, more relevant and comprehensive content rather than shoving in a keyword an assumed correct number of times.

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4 Responses to “Are the Days of Keyword Density Over?”

  1. Matt Kain says:

    Nice post. Reminds me of an article I wrote a couple of years ago when Latent Semantic Indexing was an SEO buzzword.

    Article here if you are interested:



  2. David Waterman says:

    Yep LSA is definitely back on the scene. It never really went away; it’s just gaining more and more speed. I feel it is core (or will quickly become the core) of how search engines analyze content. And it’s the way it should be. Like you said, hopefully it means the return of normal, non-keyword-stuffed content. Although, it could also lead to the rise of some very crazy content/keyword/LSA analysis tools. But I’m sure the tool will simply compute one thing…to write as you normally would.

    • Ryan Rosario says:

      LSA (1990) is classic. It is simple to perform and understand, but it lacks the capabilities of many newer semantic models that researchers have embraced. My guess is that search engines are not using LSA, rather, they are using these other newer models. Still, LSA is not a bad approximation.

  3. SEO Lamp says:

    Rats!!!! This is going to make it tougher for us to trick the system. Damn Google! Maybe I’m better off as a lamp


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