Optimizing for Google is the topic of most of our blog posts, and there are a few questions that arise from time to time as Google changes algorithms, and shifts focus to keep people from gaming the system and to make sure the most relevant results reach the top.
The number one question is content related, and concerns keyword density. We have gone rounds and rounds with keyword density – should it be crammed as much as possible? Should we just use keywords naturally? Is there a formula we can use to ensure good rankings?
The answer is all and none of these – the keyword density factor for Google seems to be in a constant state of flux, and is definitely more subtle than it was a few years ago. It doesn’t seem to affect rankings quite as much, and stuffing is definitely discouraged, but keywords are still important. Some SEOs recommend taking a keyword density evaluator to your competitors’ text when they are ranked at the top, and follow the trend shown by the top ten results on Google.
That makes you a follower, not a leader, and I definitely recommend concentrating more on having top notch content with appropriately used keywords for user friendliness and website navigability rather than getting into a huge time consuming process of trying to analyze exactly what density is best, or whether to include keywords in the meta tag over the anchor links!
Do, however, try to include your main keyword phrase in your title, and especially surrounding and images, just so Google knows what your article is about. A good rule of thumb that seems to weather most of Google’s various winds, is to have the keyword or phrase in the title, the first paragraph and the last paragraph for sure, then where ever it falls naturally in the rest of the article – also consider having some secondary keywords to help break up the monotony.
Readable content beats keyword stuffed garbage hands down – and do you know why? Because being number one on the SERPS only gets you so far – if a visitor clicks on your site and sees gobbledygook, they will bounce away faster than a flea and you will be left with nothing to show for all of your keyword stuffing efforts!!