Writing to a Certain Keyword Density

Dear Jill,

I find your website very useful but haven’t found the exact
answer to my
query. Perhaps you could point me to it if it’s there.

I am rewriting the text of a website for a client (I am an
editor not an SEO
person). He has had an SEO report done by someone else who
has told him to
aim for a keyword density of 6 to 12 percent on each page,
with each page
focusing on different keywords.

To me that seems unrealistic if I’m going to write sensible
and readable copy. For a 300-word page that would be at least 18 instances of each
keyword/phrase. I would rather have about 4 or 5 repeats at most.

Is my client being misled about what is needed in terms of
keywords to rank well, or should I just try to fit them all in? I am worried
that this might actually work against him with the search engines.

I know you can’t answer all emails personally, but this might
be of interest to others (especially SEO rookies like me).

Thanks and kind regards


Jill’s Response

Hi Margaret,

In short, yes, your client is off the mark. There is
absolutely no perfect
keyword density you should be writing to. Just write copy
that reads well
to humans while also keeping the keyword phrases in mind.
there’s some very expensive (and some not so expensive)
software and courses
out there that convince people that there’s some magical
number of times to
use keyword phrases within copy in order to achieve high
rankings. There
isn’t now, nor has there ever been, anything of the sort.
Any software
program or presenter at a conference or white paper that
tells you otherwise
is simply wrong.

If it weren’t so prevalent, and there weren’t so many people
paying good
money for training that teaches crazy things like this, it
would actually be
pretty funny. The thought of writing copy with a particular
keyword density
percentage in mind is ludicrous on so many levels.

For one thing, it doesn’t work! There is no magical density that will
ensure high rankings. If you have a lot of time on your
hands, run the top
pages through any of those stupid software programs that
check that sort of
thing and you’ll see for yourself that they’re all using completely
different percentages of keywords/content. For another
thing, what makes
anyone think that taking the average keyword density of the
top pages and
using that number on your page is going to make yours rank
highly? It just
doesn’t even make sense!

If you are a copywriter, and you write for SEO companies or
even dabble with
SEO on the side, please, please, please, just say no to any
client that
comes to you and tells you to write anything with a given
keyword density in
mind. I don’t care if it’s a range or an exact amount. You
should just not
do it. It’s wrong, it’s stupid, and it will ruin the
readability of your
client’s site. If all that isn’t convincing to you,
just remember that it
doesn’t work anyway.

Write great, professional marketing copy while keeping your
keyword phrases
in mind. If they stick out like a sore thumb, all you’ve done
is written
spammy, keyword-stuffed content, and who wants their company
associated with
that? The easiest way to do this is to never optimize for
only 1 keyword
phrase, but instead choose a handful of related phrases.
It’s darn near
impossible to write decent copy if you’re attempting to focus
on one keyword

Jill Whalen of High RankingsR is an internationally recognized search engine
optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High RankingsR Advisor
search engine marketing newsletter http://www.highrankings.com/advisor.
Jill’s handbook, “The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines”
http://www.highrankings.com/seo-writing.htm teaches business owners how
and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they
make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines.


Jill specializes in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, site
analysis reports, SEM seminars and is the co-founder of the search marketing
and website design company, Search Creative, LLC