Understanding Myths and Best Practices

Understanding Myths and Best Practices


What Is Key phrase Density?

Key phrase density is the frequency with which a key phrase seems on a webpage relative to the entire phrase rely.

Represented as a share, it is calculated by dividing the variety of occasions a key phrase seems on a web page by the entire phrase rely and multiplying the end result by 100:

Keyword density formula

Does Key phrase Density Matter for website positioning?

Key phrase density is now not an essential rating issue

When website positioning was nonetheless an rising discipline, the concept was that extra key phrases created extra relevance and resulted in larger rankings.

Many website positioning professionals centered on key phrase density as a metric to enhance their rankings. They might overload their content material with goal key phrases to spice up search rankings. 

This can be a observe often known as key phrase stuffing, the place key phrases are a case of amount over high quality. 

Utilizing key phrases on this means now violates Google webmaster guidelines, which state:

Key phrase stuffing refers back to the observe of filling a webpage with key phrases or numbers in an try to govern rankings in Google Search outcomes. Usually these key phrases seem in an inventory or group, unnaturally, or out of context.

Because of this, key phrase frequency or density by itself is now not a key to website positioning success. 

Serps are way more refined as we speak. Google and others have developed to grasp the content material on a webpage past key phrase density. 

Google’s John Mueller confirmed this by responding to a question on Reddit about key phrase density in 2021. The person requested immediately if key phrase density is a rating issue.

“no,” Mueller replied. (That’s all he wrote.)

This additionally aligns with related statements courting far again as a Google Webmaster office-hours video in 2014

“Key phrase density generally is one thing that I wouldn’t deal with. Be sure that your content material is written naturally. People, once they go to your web site, will not be going to rely the pure occurrences of every phrase. Serps have moved on from there over time as effectively…”

Because of this, key phrase stuffing is taken into account dangerous website positioning observe that leads to a poor person expertise. The On Page SEO Checker might help you determine content-related website positioning points. 

Google Algorithm Updates and Key phrase Density

Google algorithm updates over time have modified website positioning and the relative significance of key phrase density.

Google continually updates its algorithm to enhance person question outcomes and discourage practices like key phrase stuffing.

Semrush infographic listing the 10 most important Google algorithm updates of all time


Some of the essential early Google algorithm updates was referred to as “Panda.” Launched in 2011, Panda was designed to focus on web sites with skinny or duplicate content material. 

These included web sites with little or no related content material or priceless info for customers and websites with content material copied from different websites.

The Panda replace affected about 11.8% of search queries. Web sites with extreme promoting had been impacted, as had been websites that revealed massive portions of low-quality webpages to earn a living with out offering a lot worth.

When it comes to key phrase density, the Panda replace indicated that Google was extra excited by web sites that supplied priceless content material to their customers. Those who used key phrase stuffing to artificially inflate their rankings had been much less priceless.

This marked a shift away from key phrase density as a major rating issue and towards the general high quality of the content material of a webpage.

Google confirmed this in a 2011 post about the Panda update, stating:

Our recommendation for publishers continues to be to deal with delivering the absolute best person expertise in your web sites and to not focus an excessive amount of on what they suppose are Google’s present rating algorithms or alerts.


One other essential replace was Hummingbird, launched in 2013.

This algorithm replace seemed on the question as a complete, fairly than the person phrases inside it. Thus started the shift from key phrase optimization to search intent.

For instance, if somebody looked for “smartphones close to me,” Hummingbird took that to imply the person was looking for brick-and-mortar shops close to them that bought smartphones. (Not web sites that used “smartphones close to me” of their title tag.)

The Hummingbird algorithm replace was designed to deal with extra advanced search queries. It centered on understanding the context of the phrases in a question to find out what customers had been searching for.

Hummingbird made Google’s algorithm extra exact by matching a person’s question to webpages that matched their search intent. In an FAQ with Search Engine Journal, Google stated that Hummingbird centered on the “which means behind phrases.” 

This replace moved Google’s algorithm and website positioning greatest practices even additional away from key phrase density. Google was now “translating” every question behind the scenes. 

The general high quality of the content material was extra essential. Notably how effectively it matched the person’s search intent. 

Now a core focus in fashionable website positioning, search intent is damaged down into 4 common classes: navigational, informational, business investigation, and transactional.

Semrush infographic listing the four search intent types with examples


Then there’s RankBrain, introduced in 2015.

RankBrain makes use of a machine learning-based algorithm to grasp the which means behind search intent. It seems to be on the which means behind a question, fairly than simply the phrases within the question itself. 

RankBrain works by “translating” related key phrases into entities. 

Entities are issues. 

“Guitars,” “drums,” and “rock music” are entities. 

RankBrain places entities into associated teams. If RankBrain sees a phrase or phrase it doesn’t perceive, it could infer the which means of the key phrase primarily based on the related entities.

Entities are related by the Google Knowledge Graph. It’s like a thoughts map of all of the recognized and associated entities Google has found.


As soon as once more, key phrase density—and key phrases generally—took a again seat.

Context and search intent (what the person is anticipating to search out) took priority. 

RankBrain’s potential to grasp the intent of a question adjustments how search works. Now, related pages are ranked for a key phrase, even when the content material on the pages doesn’t include the precise key phrases used.

From Key phrase Density to Key phrase Relevance

Search intent and context outweigh key phrase density as essential website positioning elements. 

Rating excessive in Google is just not about utilizing a key phrase extra typically, however how, the place, and why you utilize the key phrase and different related phrases or entities.

Don’t cram your content material with goal key phrases wherever potential. Use them in a means that is sensible within the pure circulate of your content material.

Properly-written content material ought to embrace related key phrases in a means that’s pure and helpful to the reader. That is extra priceless (and extra prone to rank) than a web page that repeatedly makes use of the identical key phrase in an try to extend key phrase density.

You wish to embrace your key phrase in locations just like the title tag and H1 tag of the web page. And also you need the content material to comply with a logical construction and hierarchy that features associated entities or subtopics as part headings. 


Past that, related key phrases will usually seem naturally all through the content material.

As an illustration, in case you’re writing an article about “methods to bake blueberry muffins,” that article would come with many mentions of the phrases “blueberry muffins” and “bake.” Even in case you didn’t attempt to “optimize” it for these phrases. 

It’d even have all the phrase, “methods to make blueberry muffins.”

Plus, it will point out different related matters or entities like oven, warmth, flour, and sugar. 

Google seems to be in any respect of those elements to find out in case your content material is related and of excessive sufficient high quality to seem in search engine outcomes pages (SERPs). 

In case your article repeats “methods to make blueberry muffins” 1,000 occasions in a row, it’s clearly not high-quality content material.

Professional tip: Use the Semrush Position Tracking software to watch your SERP rankings and modify your content material technique to enhance them.

Semantic Search and Search Intent: Utilizing Key phrases Naturally and Contextually

Individuals use totally different phrases to go looking for a similar info. Due to this fact, keep away from focusing on a single key phrase on your content material. 

For instance, if somebody desires to find out about various kinds of wine, they may seek for “kinds of wine.” 

They might additionally seek for “wine sorts.”

Or possibly “wine varieties.”

Google search results for "wine types" and "wine varieties"

Serps have to grasp that somebody typing in these totally different key phrases are literally searching for the identical info. 


Semantic search.

Semantic search analyzes the relationships between entities. We outlined them earlier as “issues,” however entities will also be folks, locations, and ideas. Google makes use of semantic search to grasp relationships between entities and person intent.

Google core algorithm updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain have develop into a lot better at understanding how customers search. Additionally they assist Google perceive why they’re looking out.

This helps the algorithms return pages that include info customers need.

For instance, when rating pages for “kinds of wine,” they may search for pages which have phrases like “cabernet,” “pinot noir,” and “sauvignon blanc.” 

Google would possibly interpret these associated phrases or entities nearly as good search outcomes for the person.

Google makes use of its Knowledge Graph, introduced in 2012, to assist with this. Data Graph categorizes entities to present customers speedy and correct search outcomes utilizing info panels. The data graph has categorized 500 billion entities.

Right here’s how they clarify it:

Youtube video thumbnail

Because of this, as a content material creator, your web page shouldn’t simply embrace goal key phrases. Phrases and phrases associated to that subject must also be used.

Create complete content material that covers the subject utterly. Focus much less on an arbitrary quota for what number of occasions you utilize the time period “kinds of wine.”

If you optimize your content material for a goal key phrase, ask your self: 

  • Why is my viewers looking for this? 
  • What info are they making an attempt to be taught? 
  • What downside are they making an attempt to unravel? 
  • What different info can I embrace which may assist them?

Utilizing the Keyword Overview software, you possibly can shortly get a way for a few of this info. 

From the Semrush dashboard, click on “Key phrase Overview.” Kind your goal key phrase within the textual content field and click on “Search.”

"running shoes" entered into Keyword Overview search bar

The Key phrase Overview report will offer you insights in regards to the key phrase you’re focusing on. The “Intent” part will point out the key phrase’s major search intent.

Keyword Overview report for "running shoes" with the "Intent" widget highlighted

You should utilize this info to match the content material you’re creating with the person’s expectations and objectives when conducting the search. 

It additionally gives an inventory of key phrases and questions related to the question beneath “Key phrase concepts.”

“Keyword ideas” section of the Keyword Overview report

You should utilize this info so as to add extra depth to your content material or handle key questions your guests might have.

Lastly, you possibly can analyze the SERPs to get a way of what different pages already rank for this key phrase. Simply scroll all the way down to the “SERP Evaluation” part.

“SERP Analysis” section of the Keyword Overview report

Utilizing these insights, you will get a greater sense for methods to craft content material to cowl the subject and optimize for semantic search, with out resorting to key phrase stuffing.

The Key phrase Density Delusion

Key phrase density shouldn’t be a core focus of your website positioning technique

Merely utilizing a goal key phrase a number of occasions in your content material is not going to enhance your possibilities of rating. That is an outdated observe rooted in website positioning methods that now not work.

Google has confirmed that key phrase density is just not a big website positioning rating issue. It has discouraged this focus for years. Matt Cutts, the previous Head of Net Spam at Google, acknowledged that there’s no ideal keyword density.

Youtube video thumbnail

He stated clearly, “that’s not the best way that search engine rankings work.”

So why has this misplaced concept caught round all this time?

Outdated habits die exhausting. 

website positioning specialists realized to rely on it as a core a part of their technique. Plus, some website positioning instruments nonetheless use it as a core metric in reporting, which perpetuates this outdated pondering. 

However, Google’s algorithms have developed to acknowledge key phrase stuffing and different ineffective website positioning techniques. 

They will harm greater than they assist.

Key phrase stuffing might get your pages flagged as spam. They may drop in rankings. You might even be deindexed from Google fully.

Trendy Key phrase Finest Practices

Key phrases are nonetheless essential as a result of they relate to entities and semantic search. 

Serps use the language and context of your content material to grasp what the webpage is about.

For instance, you would possibly count on the key phrase—or a really related phrase—to seem within the web page title within the search outcomes. (In any other case, how would you already know the web page has the knowledge you need?)

You may additionally count on to see it in a few of the subheadings inside that article. 

It’s thought-about greatest observe to incorporate goal key phrases strategically inside your content material fairly than deal with time period frequency.

On-page SEO contains strategic placement of goal key phrases. Add key phrases in a means that’s useful to your audience in order that they higher perceive the subject of the content material. 

This helps search engines like google and yahoo, too.

Listed here are some locations to think about including keywords for SEO.

1. Title Tag

The title tag is without doubt one of the only locations you possibly can put your goal key phrase.

Your web page’s title tag is the very first thing that customers and search engines like google and yahoo will see once they come throughout your web page. The title tag ought to have a related key phrase close to the start to make it instantly clear what the web page is about. 

It seems to be like this:

An example of title tag "What Is a Title Tag & How to Optimize Title Tags for Google" on Google SERP

2. URL or Slug

Your web page URL ought to embrace your goal key phrase.

This tells customers what they’ll get from visiting the web page. It additionally provides extra context to search engines like google and yahoo once they crawl and index it.

Keep away from utilizing underscores (_) or frequent cease phrases like “and” or “in.”

URLs like this will not be optimized:

An example of a not optimized URL slug

One thing clear and legible (and together with the goal key phrase) works higher:

An example of an optimized URL slug

Be aware: John Mueller says that optimizing your URLs to incorporate a goal key phrase can be a “very, very light-weight rating issue.” 

However he nonetheless recommends writing them primarily for people.

3. Headings

Utilizing your key phrase in heading tags (e.g., H1, H2, and H3) helps customers and search engines like google and yahoo perceive the logical circulate and construction of your content material. Use the key phrase solely the place it feels pure and related in context.


This construction and hierarchy helps search engines like google and yahoo perceive the content material and relationships between matters in your web page.

It’s additionally nice for customers.

Logical construction helps readers skim, perceive, and get the knowledge they want.

4. Meta Description

The meta description is the quick blurb beneath your web page title within the SERPs. 

The meta description doesn’t immediately have an effect on your rankings, however a key phrase right here provides customers context and knowledge. They is likely to be extra prone to go to your web page. And enhance your click-through fee (CTR) from Google search outcomes.

An example of meta description for the Semrush Blog on Google SERP

For instance, a superb meta description on your web page about “natural espresso” would possibly learn:

“Discover our huge number of natural espresso beans and find out about the advantages of natural espresso.”

5. Physique

Related key phrases ought to seem naturally all through your web page.

An example of "What Is Content Distribution?" section from the Semrush blog using "content distribution keyword"

If you end up rewriting content material to incorporate the goal key phrase extra typically (and to not improve readability), that is often a foul signal. 

Nonetheless, it’s frequent website positioning observe to make use of your goal key phrase throughout the first 100 to 150 phrases of your content material. Many individuals consider that this has a optimistic affect on website positioning.

Extra importantly, it reveals your customers that they’ll discover the knowledge they want.

For instance, you would possibly begin your web page about natural espresso with a gap sentence like, “Natural espresso is rising in popularity due to its well being advantages and eco-friendly rising practices.”

Keep in mind, on-page SEO is only one a part of your general website positioning technique. You must all the time deal with creating high-quality, well-written content material that gives worth to your person, at the beginning.

FAQs About Key phrase Density

Does Key phrase Density Matter for website positioning?

Key phrase density is now not a big rating issue.

Serps as we speak focus extra on the relevance of content material to match person search intent. Additionally they take into account the context by which key phrases are used together with different related matters and phrases.

What’s Key phrase Stuffing? Is It Dangerous?

Key phrase stuffing is if you overuse key phrases in your content material to attempt to manipulate your rating in search outcomes. It was frequent in website positioning, however now it could result in a drop in search rankings or, in excessive circumstances, get your content material faraway from Google’s index. 

The place Ought to I Place Key phrases in My Content material?

Utilizing your key phrases strategically inside your content material tells Google what your webpage is about. It additionally makes your content material simpler to search out and skim. 

Some good locations to incorporate key phrases are within the title tag, meta description, URL, first 100-150 phrases of your content material, and not less than one subheading.

Will Rising Key phrase Density Enhance My Search Rankings?

No, utilizing key phrases extra incessantly is not going to enhance your webpage’s search rankings. Google prioritizes high-quality, related content material that matches search intent and gives worth. Use key phrases naturally—in a means that is sensible within the context of your content material. 

Is There an Excellent Key phrase Density for website positioning?

No, there isn’t a superb goal key phrase density for website positioning. Serps like Google prioritize relevance and high quality of the content material fairly than key phrase frequency.


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