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Keyword density
How dense is too dense?

 6:56 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


I have noticed that keyword density is a real issue with Google. Sites with very few keywords are doing better that those with a greater keyword density. I have always found keyword density a problem. Whenever I write about a specific issue I tend on repeating the same words over and over again. I'm not trying to spam the search engines, but I sometimes get into a frame of mind and use the same words. I guess it is time to get a thesaurus.
My question is what % of keyword density does Google like? When is a page considered too dense? How is density calculated? For example if someone is talking about their inventory it is better to say blue fish, green fish, yellow fish or fish in the following colors blue, green, and yellow.
I realize that proximity becomes an issue as well.
Sometimes it is difficult to write about something without what may be seen as excessive repetition.
I would love to hear other opinions and get some specific recommendations.



 7:15 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, search engines including Google *like* high keyword density. This is standard SEO. Presumably there is a point where it does no benefit, and possibly hurts because the density seems abnormally high. Assuming you are writing sentences aimed at human beings rather than SE bots, you should be fine. Where it becomes a problem is when you start writing keyword dense text just for the bots, and ignore the humans.


 7:15 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I have noticed that keyword density is a real issue with Google.

Actually, keyword density doesn't play much of a role at all on Google. The fact that the keywords you are looking at tend to be dominated by pages with a low density doesn't mean that is the reason they rank the way they do.

For every #1 page that has a KWD below 5%, you can find a #1 page with KWD's ranging anywhere from 10% - 35%.

Off-page criteria trumps all.


 7:42 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I disagree WebGuerrilla, at least partly. Particularly in not overly competitive SERPs, with Google KWD means a lot. The thing is with Google there is no way you can rocket to the top on keyword density alone. It'll only get you maybe 25% of the way there. The other 75%, in my rough estimation of general importance:

Keyword in anchor text of pages linking to you
Keyword in domain (somewhere in URL is next best)
Decent PageRank
Keyword in page title
Keyword in H1 tag

Thus, while you should worry about KWD, you need to worry about the above also if you want to get far with Google.


 7:48 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with both webg and rx to some extent.

Keyword density is only one of many factors. If you are debating, I would go for higher if anything. It would have to be a VERY high density to hurt you IMHO.

I have done quite well for a long while paying little attention to density, but rather trying to write good copy and include the important keywords and phrases where it makes sense.

The most inportant factors are those that Rfgdxm1 mentions, however.


 8:01 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

And I agree with WebGuerrilla that offpage stuff matters a lot. And I agree generally with rfgdxm1 except that keywords on page don't seem to make the big difference.

I posted a similar message the other day but my quandry is that my most important keyword is not part of my domain name. My domain name is a two-word phrase that I chose to brand my site. But the keyword which most aptly describes my site is in very high density all over my site but not a part of my domain name. I get first or second in the serps for each of the two words in my domain name and 150th in the serps for the word that is in high density throughout my site.

Every site which links to me uses the domain name. But these sites also have high density on my main keyword. What they don't do is include the keyword in their hyper-link to me. It might completely encircle the link but it isn't in the anchor text. And I have all the other elements that rfgdxm1 has mentioned but I still rank poorly for the most important single keyword.

I suggest not worrying about density so much as trying to get other webmasters to include your important keywords in anchor text. But I don't disagree with rfgdxm1 that it is just plain good design to have important keywords in your title, meta tags, H1 tag, etc.

IMHO don't spend time counting words etc. Spend time getting links.


 8:01 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

#1 on the Google SERPs for the most important single word keyword I target is a site that has 15% KWD on that word. Definitely it didn't hurt them. However, they are #1 largely because of a lot of anchor text linking to them with that keyword, decent PR, and also the keyword is in the URL.


 8:08 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>And I agree with WebGuerrilla that offpage stuff matters a lot. And I agree generally with rfgdxm1 except that keywords on page don't seem to make the big difference.

Note I wrote important, but will only get you 25% of the way there. In your case, you are getting nowhere on this keyword you mention because you lack both the keyword in your domain name, and the keyword in anchor text linking to your site. Since you lack both of the 2 other factors I stated were most important, you don't have a chance of getting to the top on Google.


 8:24 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Are you sure about keyword in domain?

We do very nicely without it. The only reason I can think keyword domains might help your position is when people link to you, they often include your domain name in the link, thereby including useful anchor text.


 8:33 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

ive yet to see anybody actually lay out how density is calculated.....with or without stop words?....with or without meta tags?..with or without words under 4 letters...is it calculated on total number of unique words....etc.....


 8:37 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


That's precisely why keyword in domain helps. The original poster stated that he has neither the keyword in his domain nor links with the keyword as anchor text. Without either of these elemants it would be extremely difficult to rank well on a competetive term.

If Google did not look at anchor text, a web design site could have thousands of links and put gambling content on their page and rank well for these terms.

Yes, have the keyword in your title and throughout your pages, but without the links, it's pretty much over...


 8:45 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


I can think keyword domains might help your position is when people link to you, they often include your domain name in the link, thereby including useful anchor text.

I think on similar lines: e.g. having an email-Adress on the page, containing the keyword befor or after the @ seems to help. So it is only indirectly that the domain name matters.


 8:46 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Right mfishy. I do believe Google give a specific algo boost for keyword in domain. However, if I happen to run widgets.com, almost certainly anyone linking to me will do so either with just the URL, which contains the keyword, or if they use anchor text almost surely "widgets" will be part of that anchor text. And, note on my list I include "decent PageRank". To get that by *necessity* people will have to be linking to widgets.com. In the real world, it isn't likely I'd own widgets.com, have good PR, yet nobody links to me with "widgets".


 8:54 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

These are some really great responses.
I have keywords in H1, title, links, and backward links and the keyword density is 10%. Currently, the sites rank top 100 and have pr 4. However, there are many sites with fewer links, same pr, no keywords in title or h1 and keyword density of .1% that rank much higher.
This baffles me.

To address a comment made about keywords in URL. I believe it is benefical but maybe not on Google. The benefit can be seen on Yahoo's version of Google's results. Sites with keywords in the URL's rank slightly higher on Yahoo, than they had in Google's serps.


 9:02 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

allanp73, maybe keyword in domain name doesn't mean quite as much as it used to with Google, but it still looks HUGE to me. My guess is those sites ranking higher than you have a lot of low PR pages linking to them with keyword in the anchor text. You just can't see these with the link: command.


 9:32 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi rfgdxm1,

The sites above mine have fewer links altogether. Many of my links don't show, each site has over 200 pages and links atleast 50 pr4+ and dozens a sites with less pr. The sites above mine are the homepage type with few pages and even fewer links. They have probably been around longer, which explains why their pr is similar to mine.
It doesn't make sense that these overall weaken sites are ranked much higher.


 9:33 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Keyword in the domain DOES make a difference, other than for the anchor text.


will count for the word "widget". In the text portions of the page it would require some sort of stop character to make a difference.

I think it is silly for anyone to suggest that there is something that is not taken in to account. Google has repeatedly stated that they look at over 100 factors. About the only thing that they do not look at, is the thing that they have stated they do not look at, which is the meta keywords.


 9:53 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>It doesn't make sense that these overall weaken sites are ranked much higher.

Obviously there is some algo factor they do better in than your that you just can't figure out. Otherwise, they wouldn't be beating you. ;) My suspicion is inbound anchor text from pages out there that the link: command doesn't find, and you can't also. If it isn't due to on page factors or PR, link text seems the likely suspect.


 9:59 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, I looked into this as well. If you use the allinanchor search suddenly my sites are extremely well ranked and these others disappear altogether.
So now what?


 9:59 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


>will count for the word "widget".

I see no evidence at all of this. As someone once put it, a rug is one thing, a rat is another thing, and a rugrat is a third thing. This sort of idea would have all sorts of problems. This domain here, webmasterworld.com, is a perfect example. Any such attempt could parse this site URL as web-master-world, which would mean Google would think this site is about people who wish to become planetary dictators by use of the web. ;) People buy hyphenated domains because of this reason.


 10:02 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Keep looking allanp73. These sites have to be doing something right that you aren't. Otherwise, they wouldn't be beating you. One thing I'd suggest is going to Alltheweb and checking inbound links and such there. Google may not be showing certain things with their commands.


 10:31 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


You have got to be one of the most helpful people I've ever had the pleasure of reading.



 10:45 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Re earlier comments about domain names & keywords

If keywords in domain name does play a part in Googles ranking, then all Australian .au domains suffer an immediate disadvantage. You have to include the business name in the domain name, or as nearly as possible.

The Acme Resort will be www.acmeresort.com.au but holiday makers won't be searching on the property name.

Petes Poodle Parlour will be www.petespoodles.com.au which will never connect with "dog grooming" or similar search.

Of course you can do all sorts of on-page optimising but you can never make up for the loss of primary keyword in the domain name..... assuming always that it does actually make the difference that other posters seem to think it does.

Do any other countries insist on this connection between business name and domain name? And before you ask.... yes, a lot of Australian businesses do have .com domains. I wonder why? :)


 11:09 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

This last comment makes me wonder... I am from Canada and targeting US market where my keywords are "us city real estate" Does that fact that my sites are hosted in Canada, registered to a Canadian address make a difference. If you use Google.ca and search for Canadian only sites they come up.
Could I be penalized for my Canadian affiliations?


 11:17 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)


NOTHING counts as much as most people assume that it does. That is why there is so much confusion about what is important. Concentrating on any one thing is as stupid as ignoring any one thing.

In any given month there will be posts about PR becoming more important AND PR becoming less important. And the same with the other half dozen popular factors.

Being stuck with a domain name makes things more difficult, but the domain name itself is only one factor. It does influence other factors though. If you get the link text of "Pete's Poodles dog grooming service" and work that into your titles and headers, then the domain name should not have too much impact.

Remember, that the average factor counts for less than 1% of your positioning in the SERPs. And all of us are in the dark as to what those other 95 factors are. We may think we hit the KW density just right, but in fact we are getting bonus points for having a 3x7 table with the word trombone in bold green type in the second row. Your's might be the only site on the web to get a perfect score on that obscure factor.

I bet even some of the best optimized sites out there rank close to zero on some of Google's factors in their algorithm. but they don't need to rank higher because they are good in many other areas.


 11:20 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes austtr, you see why it is smart for Aussie businesses to get .coms. ;) Getting keywords in the domain is a big plus with Google. Particularly if you can do so without having to get a ridiculously long domain name. Out of curiousity, could under .au rules Pete's Poodles change their name to Poodle Dog Grooming, and register poodle-dog-grooming.com.au? If so, then a dog groomer down under could keyword stuff domain names.

To allanp73, it makes no difference where you are hosted. And to Jon_King, you're welcome.


 11:41 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately for most of us, I think BigD hit the nail on the head.


 2:17 am on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Big Dave

I have to disagree with you. I know exactly how to get a site to number 1, and it certainly doesn't involve a hundred factors. I think this is the Google spin doctors talking. In fact, I'd put the recipe at about 3 or 4 ingredients. They have all already been listed by RFGDXM1, though I would remove the need for a special URL.

I'd just like to add that I certainly don't think it's rocket science and I don't consider myself to be especially knowledgeable in this field. In fact anyone can be consistently on top if they just work harder than the competition and follow the advice on this forum.


 2:22 am on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's not to say there aren't 100 factors in the ranking algorithm. I have no idea if there are or not. It's just that for the main part you can get by optimizng just the less subtle ones with very satisfactory results.


 2:33 am on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yep SlyOldDog. While there may indeed be other factors that enter into the algo, the ones I mentioned seemed to be the consistently big one. There may be others, but they are secondary. As for the idea of a special URL, I only mention that in the context that ideally if possible this will help. I've definitely noticed a pattern the Google gives a boost if the keyword is in the domain name, and to a lesser degree somewhere in the URL. The problem with optimizing for this is in the real world, often either impossible or impractical. It can work well if you have a *very* focused site targeting just 1, 2 or 3 keywords specifically; using a hyphenated domain name if going for multiple words. However, for commercial sites this often isn't realistic. If you happen to sell only blue widgets AND blue-widgets.com is available, great for you. Grab that domain pronto. However, what if you sell widgets, doohickeys, doodads, and thingamabobs, all in a wide variety of colors? There is no possible "magic URL" in such a case, and then you just have to settle for one URL and optimize for the rest of the algo factors.

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