Keyword density in Yoast SEO: What you should know

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

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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.

Multiple keywords

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:
Keyword density: bold in Google

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).

Keyword distribution

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!

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Synonyms and topic distribution are added automatically to your Yoast SEO Premium when you update our plugin to the latest version!

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27 Responses to Keyword density in Yoast SEO: what you should know

  1. Roger Ceunen
    Roger Ceunen  • 3 months ago

    I’ve Yoast premium ; I can’nt optimize my site

    Please can you help me

  2. Khairunissa Virani
    Khairunissa Virani  • 3 months ago

    Hi Michiel,
    Thanks for sharing this valuable article. I use yoast seo but i want to know how do i know the density is there any tool to learn the density of keywords i use on each page of my website?

  3. David
    David  • 3 months ago

    Thank you for another great insight into SEO.
    I look forward to your emails and print them as pdf’s so I can always go back through your article’s and pick up snippets that i have missed.
    Keep these great article’s coming

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 months ago

      Hi David, Thanks so much! Delighted to hear you look forward to our emails and read them so carefully!

  4. David Bennett
    David Bennett  • 3 months ago

    Synonyms, natural language, Google – It all makes sense now you say it. Good tip.

  5. sanna
    sanna  • 3 months ago

    I´ve been wondering this as Finnish language is so different than English – our keywords usually are words in a basic form, because that is how people search services etc. from google. But when writing a content it is really hard to use those basic words naturally at all, as our words conjugate (changes as used in a sentence)… Any idea how to deal with this? Usually the google search is like service + city in a basic form but in a text these both words changes to slightly different when used in a natural way – does google know/recognize them still? I guess not…

    • Felix Schmidt
      Felix Schmidt  • 3 months ago

      Hi Sanna, I think we have the same challenge in German. And I am sure Google understands the different flections of a word. But the upcoming synonym function of Yoast will make it easier to get a real keyword density because the plugin will count every flection you will name :-)

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Could you give me an example of that, in Finnish? Not exactly sure what you mean.

  6. Oscar Andren
    Oscar Andren  • 3 months ago

    Very interesting. I read all your mails and learn a lot.

  7. Haroun Kola
    Haroun Kola  • 3 months ago

    Great article and helpful suggestions on using synonyms and keyword distribution throughout my entire article. I think this will be the month that I purchase the premium plugin so look out for me amongst your client list.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Great, Haroun! Thanks!

  8. segevgazit
    segevgazit  • 3 months ago

    Can the keyword at the sensitivity level revert to different biases? Then it can be that the level of sensitivity to the word of tension can be more than necessary

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Could you elaborate on that a bit?

  9. Vikas Shukla
    Vikas Shukla  • 3 months ago

    thank you so much for giving me details

  10. Felix Schmidt
    Felix Schmidt  • 4 months ago

    Hi Michiel, I especially love the upcoming synonyms function because in German you often have different forms of one keyword with sufixes etc. This will make it easier to calculate a “real” density, if the plugin counts e.g. “Datenschutzbeauftragter”, “Datenschutzbeauftragte” (plural), and “Datenschutzbeauftragten” (dative)…


    • Michiel Heijmans

      And thanks for that addition! Agreed :)

  11. انجام پروژه متلب
    انجام پروژه متلب  • 4 months ago

    Could you provide a reliable formula for calculating KD? There plenty of formulas, which one can we trust and use?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      I’d really use our plugin. Especially with the upcoming Premium additions mentioned in the article, we’ll guide you in making sure that everything is alright!

  12. AYO
    AYO  • 4 months ago

    helpful article, i use yoast free plugin to check my site keyword density and is very useful. thanks to you guys at yoast.

  13. Anna
    Anna  • 4 months ago

    My Keyword Density is 5% to 10% or more than in all website but I Successfully Rank without having an issue

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Just wondering: what keyword?

    • Steve
      Steve  • 4 months ago

      Same here. I stuff until Yoast’s premium app ‘sees’ and recognizes the focus keyword and then I stop stuffing. You never know on a page where the app is looking for the keyword on the page structurally and physically.

  14. Umang Joshi
    Umang Joshi  • 4 months ago

    Thank you for providing such an nice information . Keywords density is really a necessary thing to know because if we don’t focus on these small things our all work done will be like wastage because google decrease the rank of our site

  15. Rohit
    Rohit  • 4 months ago

    Awesome Thanx for guide..

  16. Smart
    Smart  • 4 months ago

    Wao thanks for letting me know this

  17. Stefano Gorgoni
    Stefano Gorgoni  • 4 months ago

    That keyword density paragraph is a joke, right?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Not a joke, but not accurate, too strict, my bad. Changed it.

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