Keyword density is the number of times your focus keyword occurs on a web page, compared to the total text of that page. If you write a post for your blog, you should have thought about what keyword you want to rank that post for. In our Yoast SEO plugin, that keyword is what we call the focus keyword. If you have a text that is 100 words and 5 of those are your focus keyword, your keyword density is 5%. Is it that black and white? In a very strict world, that would indeed be the case. But Google is smarter than that. In this post, we’ll discuss a number of things you need to take into account when checking keyword density for your pages.
Keyword density in Yoast SEO
In Yoast SEO, we encourage you to aim for a keyword density range of 0.5% to 2.5%, depending on a number of factors. This range may come across a bit strict, but it really isn’t. We are currently working on refining this range and making it dependable on for instance the length of your keyword. If, for instance, 1.7% of your post is your desired focus keyword, your text will still be fairly natural to read. It won’t look over-optimized. The thing is, that in the end, you want to make sure your text is written for humans, not Google. If the keyword density of your text exceeds, for instance, 5%, it will already start to look a lot like spam, or what we call keyword stuffing. It’ll start to look like it’s written for search engines more than your human visitors. Just don’t do that. This is why a keyword density range of 0.5% and 2.5% is a nice indication of natural, yet optimized text as well.
Often, you’ll find yourself optimizing a text for more than one keyword. Especially long pages or articles can be used perfectly for multiple keywords. It’s usually hard to write two or three articles about similar keywords, so it makes sense to group these. Think along the lines of:
- “WordPress” and “plugin”
- “Mayor” and “town hall”
You do want to use keywords that are more or less related. You might find yourself writing about a “forest” and want to include “trees” as well, for instance. The plural of a word is also something you could add as a focus keyword for your page.
Did you know that adding multiple keywords is a breeze in Yoast SEO Premium? You can add up to 5 (!) focus keywords instead of the single keyword you are used to in our free plugin! Get Yoast SEO Premium here.
When talking about keyword density, SEO and search engine optimization obviously mean exactly the same. Therefore, you should take this into account when checking keyword density for your post. If the keyword density for SEO is already at 2%, it would be unwise to add another 2% for search engine optimization. You are probably wondering how to check if Google considers two words the same or not: that’s simple. Google one word, and see if the other one is bold as well:
In this example, it’s clear that Google treats “SEO” the same as “search engine optimization”.
We’re so excited to let you know that synonyms are now in Yoast SEO Premium! We now allow for synonyms to be used to accompany your focus keywords. So, that means that besides the actual focus keyword, we’ll also let you insert a number of synonyms, and we will adjust the keyword density calculation accordingly.
Imagine you are writing about forests. You might also want to use the word ‘woods’ to refer to the same thing. You can set ‘forest’ as a keyword and ‘woods’ as a synonym. In addition, you can also use the synonym field to add the plural ‘forests’. To set multiple synonyms, just separate them with commas. Actually, in the future, you won’t need to fill in ‘forests’, when your keyword is ‘forest’ because all word forms (such as plurals, past tense of verbs, and adverbs from adjectives) will be recognized automatically. We are already on it, so stay tuned!
Note that this does differ from the multiple keywords option. That option allows you to optimize for totally different words, whereas we will take the synonyms into account for keyword density and other checks in our plugin. For instance, synonyms are also used when we calculate keyword distribution (more on that below).
We’ve also added keyword distribution to Yoast SEO Premium! This is actually something we’ve been planning to add for a while. We can tell you that your page has 2.5% keyword density, but if your 2,500 words article uses your focus keyword and synonyms 62 times in just the first two paragraphs, your text will still look strange, right? If your article is about ‘plugins’, you’ll want to use that word throughout the article, not just at the beginning or end. That is why keyword distribution is so important.
Keyword density is the basis
You’ll understand by now that keyword density is an important factor of how well your post or page is optimized for a certain focus keyword. Keyword density, in our plugin or in one of the many tools available on the internet, will tell you if you’re over-optimizing your text or just not optimizing it enough. If you want to take it a step further and get closer to how Google sees your copy, synonyms, keyword distribution and context will definitely be something to take into account too. Now go optimize!
Get Yoast SEO Premium
Synonyms and topic distribution are added automatically to your Yoast SEO Premium when you update our plugin to the latest version!