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- keyword density - fact or fiction?
February 13, 2004, 9:25 am
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Most SEO professionals will tell you that the number of
times a keyword is repeated on a page (keyword count) and
the ratio of how often that keyword is used in relation to
other text (keyword density) are minor search engine
ranking factors. However, they will then go on to tell you
to be very careful not to go over the "limit" or your site
will be penalized. What is the limit? How many times
should you repeat your keyword? You usually won't get that
answer from your friendly neighborhood SEO, because they
simply haven't done the study to find out. We have. Enjoy
The methodology: I gathered the results of the queries I
naturally performed last month using the leading search
engine and analyzed them. I had to visit each page and
count the number of times the keyword was used in between
the body and /body tags. Those keyword counts were then
tabulated for the first 10 rankings and converted into a
normalized "ranking correlation".
The resulting number shows each group of keyword counts
(grouped in ten's to reduce the amount of data required
for a valid statistical analysis) normalizing into a
number between ~100 and +100 showing the likelihood of
being ranked higher/lower. A value of +100 shows that all
10 rankings were in the proper order to show that pages of
the studied size ALWAYS rank HIGHER than pages of another
size. A value of ~100 shows that all 10 rankings were in
the proper order to show that pages of the studied size
ALWAYS rank LOWER than pages of another size. Numbers in
between show the varying likelihood of rankings
proportionally between ~100 and +100.
That is the number you see on the Y-axis. On the X-axis,
we have groups of keyword counts varying from 1 to 130. I
stopped at 130 because the number of sites found with
keyword counts higher than 130 were too few to consider
statistically valid. Here is the graph:
(Note to webmasters: Feel free to hot link to the above
graph, text link to it, or even copy it to your own site.)
There is no natural shape to the resulting graph. This
probably indicates that the leading search engine does not
actually use this factor directly in their algorithm.
However, the general trend is upward. There appears to be
no cut-off point where pages with more keywords are ranked
lower. If such a cutoff exists, it is more than 130
repetitions of a keyword.
There are two interesting peaks. The first is between 11
and 20 repetitions of the keyword. This is probably the
most useful peak for normal pages (articles, paragraphs of
text, etc.) since pages with 1-10 repetitions of the
keyword rank so poorly in comparison. The next peak of the
graph is between 81 and 90 repetitions of the keyword.
Wow! See if you can get your SEO to guess how many keyword
repetitions is "too many". I'm willing to bet that they
will say something far less than 81 repetitions.
1. Over 1,000 queries and over 10,000 sites were examined
for this study.
2. There was no exercise to attempt to isolate different
keywords. I merely took a random sampling of the queries I
performed during the month.
Pages with their target keyword repeated 11-20 times or 81-
90 times rank best on the leading search engine! If there
is a "cutoff" point where too many repetitions of a
keyword result in much lower ranking, we didn't find it.
Pages with up to 121 repetitions of the keyword continue
to rank higher than pages with 1-10 repetitions of the
This is merely a correlation study, so it cannot be
determined from this study whether the leading search
engine purposefully entertains this factor or not. The
actual factors used may be far distant from the factor we
studied, but the end result is that this search engine
does, in fact, rank pages with the above keyword counts
higher than pages with other keyword counts used in the
Jon Ricerca is one of the leading researchers and authors
of the Search Engine Ranking Factor (SERF) reports at
SearchEngineGeek.com. For access to the other SERF
reports, please visit:
Re: keyword density - fact or fiction?
your sales message seems rather lame
to quote your website
"P.S. Remember, our price goes up after every 10 members. I can only
guarantee you'll receive the current price if you order right now. So
don't delay. Act now while it's fresh on your mind."
"P.P.S. We are limiting our total membership to 100 members!"
the truth is that for competitive terms you need links to rank well
uncompetitive terms can rank well based primarily on page copy
for this I reference a free article which does not sell anything which
I did not even write
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