Although marketers have searched high and low for the secret formula that ensures top SERPs rankings, it simply does not exist. However, at the core, SEO strategies always rely on keyword inclusion. In general, the more matching keywords that your content has to a search query, the higher it should rank. Right?
If only it were that simple…
Unfortunately, simply including the right keywords is not enough these days to ensure a solid SEO plan. Trying to use too many keywords leads to keyword stuffing, which is a huge no-no in Google’s ranking algorithm. In order to combat this, Google has shifted the influence of keyword inclusion as a ranking factor.
In fact, John Mueller, senior webmaster trends analyst at Google, stated, “Keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there.”
So, what role does keyword density play in the modern SEO plan?
Truth be told, there is still no ideal or perfect one-size-fits-all approach that can be used to determine the perfect keyword balance. The goal that content writers should set for themselves is to strive for keyword balance and consistency, meaning the words that are included in the content have a purpose and are not over-used.
Let’s discuss some ways that you can balance keyword density correctly in order to support your overall SEO strategies.
Find Strategic LSI Keywords
One of the reasons why so many of us turn to Google when we have a question is because it typically understands what we are trying to say, even when we sometimes don’t. How many times have you Googled something extremely vague and still got the correct answer? How does Google tend to understand what you are trying to say, even when sometimes you aren’t sure how to phrase it yourself?
The answer is Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI. This processing system dates all the way back to the 1980s and was used to help computers determine how different terms correlate with one another. Today, Google still uses LSI to understand the context of your content and match it up with the searcher’s intent.
For instance, say that your content is discussing the newest laptops on the market. One common synonym for “laptop” is “notebook computer”, so this word may be included in your content as well. This is an LSI keyword that gives Google an indication that when you are talking about notebooks on your page, you do not mean a spiral-bound book with paper used for writing and taking notes. Therefore, it can distinguish between someone searching for a new notebook computer and a new notebook for class.
As you create content, be sure that you are incorporating the correctly correlating keywords that provide accurate context for better search results. Google’s ultimate goal is to provide the exact content that a user is searching for. In order to find the LSI keywords that will best support your website’s content, you can use Google Keyword Planner or other LSI keyword tools to see which ones to incorporate.
Aim for Longer Content for Natural Keyword Inclusion
Keyword stuffing is, unfortunately, a common mistake that a lot of content writers fall prey to. However, sometimes there is simply no other synonyms or ways to phrase things, so writers will have to repeat the same keyword phrase for clarification sake. Repeating the same keywords over and over again will sound awkward and unnatural in a short paragraph, but it will fit in much better in a longer content piece.
Long-form content pieces also tend to rank higher than shorter ones on the SERPs. Once again, there is not necessarily an ideal content length that ensures a high ranking. It is interesting to note that the average content length on Google’s first page of results is close to 1,900 words.
By creating longer content pieces, it not only makes the keyword inclusion process much easier, but it also provides better context signals to Google for improved correlation. However, don’t use this as an excuse for droning on – quality over quantity is still a good rule of thumb to follow.
Make Sure Your Research Process is Accurate
The most important part of keyword density is including the correct keywords to drive in higher traffic to your site. So if your CTRs are still fairly low, it may be time to re-evaluate your research process.
Start by asking yourself (and your content team) the following questions:
- How are you currently researching?
In general, most keyword research is done through tools like the Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz. Regardless of the resources, it is important to ensure that researchers are following the proper protocol and diving in deep enough to gain accurate information in relation to search intent. Be sure that you aren’t just aiming for the top performers here, as the competition is extremely high. Your team may also want to incorporate some content strategy tools that can help them define related keywords that could perform better.
- How long has it been since you created a list of top keywords?
Keyword trends fluctuate all of the time. Therefore, it is important that the list of top keywords for your business and industry are kept fresh for relevancy.
- Which keywords are driving in traffic that actually converts?
- Which keywords are the lowest performers or driving in the highest bounce rates?
Often times, people forget that even though a keyword is driving in traffic, it does not necessarily mean it is helpful. Use Search Console and Google Analytics to track the path that customers are following to arrive on your site.
- Which links and anchor texts are actually encouraging further clicks and ultimate conversions?
- Which pages are quickly exited?This will help to provide a better idea of the information your audience is looking for and guide you towards better keyword inclusion.
Every good SEO specialist and content marketer understands that the process is so incredibly complex and Google relies on hundreds – if not thousands – of minute factors that determine content ranking.
Keyword density is still important, but you cannot rely on it fully to improve your ranking. Be sure that you are incorporating other LSI keywords for better context signals, creating lengthy content that contains lots of great information, and properly researching trends for a more strategic approach.