The Ultimate Google On-Page SEO Keyword Density Guide for 2023

by Outranking
Updated On: May 12, 2023
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“Who’s there?”

“Keyword density.”

“Keyword density who?”

“Keyword density is one of the most important aspects of SEO optimization. So you should ensure your keyword density is enough in all steps of the process. Keyword density is also helpful to write good, keyword-dense content. We are the masters of keyword density, so come with us as we show you how to achieve peak keyword densities.”


Get the joke? 

That, folks, is called keyword stuffing and it makes you sound like a total BOT. And believe it or not, many people think that this is what will get them high on SERPs. But is that true? In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about keyword density and its importance for SEO in 2023.

What Is Keyword Density? 😂

Keyword density refers to the percentage of times a particular keyword or phrase appears on a webpage in relation to the total number of words on that page. Keyword density plays a crucial role in determining the relevance of a webpage to a particular search query in on-page SEO.

A higher keyword density indicates the page is more relevant to the search query, which can improve the page’s search engine rankings. However, overusing keywords can result in keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact the page’s rankings. 

So you should maintain a reasonable keyword density that’s relevant to the content and doesn’t appear forced. In general, a keyword density of around 1-2% is considered optimal for on-page SEO purposes.

Keyword Density Formula

The keyword density formula is used to calculate the ratio percentage of a keyword or keyphrase to the overall word count on a webpage.

Image of the formula to calculate keyword density; number of keywords over the total words in an article, times 100.
How many is too much?

Example Calculation

Say you have a 1000-word piece of content, and you’ve used the keyword 10 times. 

How much is your keyword density? 

10/1000 = 0.01

0.01 × 100 = 1%

The optimal keyword density for a blog post is between 0.5% and 1.5%, but this calculation is only applicable if the content is of high quality. We’ll see why in a second. 

Does Keyword Density Matter for Content in 2023? What Does Google Have to Say?

We’ll give it to you point blank: keyword density is no longer relevant for on-page SEO in 2023

While it was once a ranking factor, modern search engines are smart enough to understand what a page is about and how well it matches search intent in other ways — without counting on the number of keywords. 

Google has even said that keyword density isn’t something to focus on. Content should be written in a natural way. You can learn more about Google’s perspective on keyword density in the following video:

Keyword Density vs Topic Coverage — What Matters More? 

Keyword density is still relevant to some extent. Search engines scan the copy to find specific words that come up in your content more than others — they “read” the content to know what it’s about, so to speak.

On the other hand, topic coverage is about creating engaging and informative content that satisfies the user’s search intent and provides value to the reader. So it’s more so for the readers than for search engines.

So, head to head, which one’s better? Well, to be frank, you should strike a balance between the two for optimal SEO results. How can you do that? For starters, conduct thorough keyword research. Then, choose the keywords that rank the highest for your topic of choice. 

Now comes the twist: write the content almost as if you’re not too concerned about SEO. Don’t think about the keywords. Cover important ideas, answer key questions, and draw conclusions. Only use the keyword when the opportunity presents itself. The end result? A piece of content that’s well written, answers the reader precisely and ranks high on search engines. 🎉

3 Best Practices for Keyword Density

All that sounds a bit too simplistic. But in practice, how can you do that? With our expertise, we’ve gathered 3 best practices you can use to ensure your keyword density does you more good than harm.

1. Use Latent Semantic Analysis When Selecting Keywords

Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) identifies keywords closely associated with your target keyword. It helps search engines understand the context and meaning of your content, which improves your page’s relevance. LSA keywords are also known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords, and they’re acknowledged by Google.

For example, if your primary keyword is “SEO marketing”, some related LSA keywords might include “search engine optimization”, “SEM”, “search engine marketing”, and “digital marketing”.

So if you use different LSA keywords throughout your content, you can avoid hyper-focusing on one keyword only. You’ll boost your chance of ranking for even more keywords, which will increase your organic traffic. 

2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

We showed you an example of keyword stuffing in the introduction, but it’s actually worse than you think. Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique that can harm your website’s ranking and reputation.

Image of keyword stuffing: if you are looking to find the most affordable black boots, we are here to help you in finding the most affordable black boots. We are in the most affordable black boots market since the last 10 years and we know what works best for everyone! So rush to our store and grab your next favourite most affordable black boots!
Do you want to buy the most affordable black boots now?

We don’t need to explain why this is obnoxious to read. To avoid keyword stuffing, simply write like a human, and use keywords naturally.

Pro Tips

  • Use variations of the keyword within your content and look for words that are close enough to them 
  • Use synonyms to avoid repetition. For example, instead of using the word ”cheap holidays,” use “budget-friendly” or “affordable”
  • Use related search terms and context to tell users and algorithms what your content is about, avoiding spam 
  • Use your keyword only where it makes sense on the page, including in the page title tag, meta description, body content, and headings

3. Optimize for Phrases, Not Single Words

First, conduct keyword research to find relevant phrases. Make sure they have high search volumes and low difficulty. Then, weave these phrases into your content, and be sure to maintain normalcy — it’s like you’re talking to a friend or an acquaintance. 

Let’s say your target phrase is “best coffee shops in town”. You could use variations such as “top-rated cafes in the city” or “most popular coffee spots nearby”. Now, you don’t have to focus on a single word like a coffee shop, and you don’t have to repeat one phrase over and over (and over) again. 

Again, we can’t recommend a one-size-fits-all keyphrase density, but you can safely aim for 1-2%. So for about every 100 words of content, the phrase should appear 1 or 2 times.

What Are the Benefits of Using Keyword Density?

Keyword density on its own practically has zero (0) benefits, unless you’re writing based on keyword density and you now need to check if you’ve overdone yourself. 

Some SEO gurus suggest that keyword density plays a significant role in ranking content and thus heavily scores the content based on how many times a keyword has been used. Look at SurferSEO, or MarketMuse for example. But as Google clearly said, keyword density doesn’t have any benefits in ranking content.

So then why might some folks still want to check keyword density? Some potential benefits (if you do shady stuff, and are finding THAT way to trick the search engines):

  1. Tells you if your content is using keywords more than it should, meaning it might sound repetitive and obstruct the ideal reading experience
  2. Some old search engines used density to find the most dense result for a given search query and show those results, many imply that this still works to some extent
  3. Gives some folks better sleep at night knowing they have the density under control 😉

Best On-Page SEO Keyword Density Tools

So how can you use keyword density properly? We’ve compiled a list of 3 SEO keyword density tools that can help you use your keywords well.

1. Outranking

Outranking is an on-page SEO content analysis tool that provides real-time scoring based on Title, outline, content, links, and media. Outranking can identify the unique and common entities in a keyword. 

Its advanced software knows that keyword stuffing is outdated and that adding relevant, unique, and valuable content will improve rankings. That’s why it analyzes the number of common words that the top ranking pages add to their content and provides data for you to make content with a similar number of words as your competitors. 

Outranking also provides the list of unique entities that you have used in your content, further improving your overall on-page SEO score. Here’s a quick demo of how to use it.

Outranking also provides the list of unique entities that you have used in your content, further improving your overall on-page SEO score. Here’s a quick demo of how to use it.

  1. Navigate to the Content tab, and look at the Common entities
Screenshot of the content analysis tab on Outranking.
How many common entities are too few?

2. Check which keywords or phrases appear when searching a keyword within these common entities

Screenshot of the Common entities tab on Outranking.
Classified by importance!

3. Check how many times a word is appearing in your content vs in other ranking pages. Aim to stay within the top pages’ limits

But Outranking also lets you see what unique entities you can use. These are the entities that so far, only you are using. Try to go over the maximum range if possible. Doing so will ensure your content is truly unique, not parroting someone else’s ideas.

Screenshot of Outranking's unique entities.
How eye-catching is your content?

With Outranking, you can improve your content’s SEO and craft compelling content using AI while adhering to the recommended keyword density guidelines. The best part is? Keywords aren’t the only thing Outranking analyzes your content for! We use 27 factors to comprehensively assess your content and show you how to improve it. 

Outranking starts at $69/month with the first month at a flat $7.

2. SEO Review Tools

SEO review tools keyword density checker is a useful tool for optimizing on-page SEO. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use it:

  1. Go to the SEO Review Tools website and find the keyword density checker tool
  2. Enter the URL of the page you want to analyze or copy and paste the text into the text box
  3. Click the Perform Check button to analyze the text
Screenshot of the SEO Review Tools interface.
How well will we do?

4. Check the primary keyword’s density and other related keywords

Screenshot of the primary keyword density and related keywords.
Looks like we’re golden!

5. Check if the density of the primary keyword is within the recommended range of under 3%

Screenshot of a confirmation message on SEO Review Tools.
And we are!

6. Add more instances of the keyword to the text where natural if your density is too low

7. Remove instances of the keyword or use synonyms if the density is too high

8. Opt for related keywords, phrases, and synonyms to avoid over-optimizing

9. Rinse and repeat

3. Semrush

Semrush is a powerful on-page SEO tool that includes a keyword density checker, called “keyword phrase usage,” to help improve your website’s SEO. It compares your keyword density with your competitors. 

This allows you to learn how many times competitors use certain keywords and get closer to their performance levels by adhering to the industry standard. Although it comes at a premium price starting at $119.95/month, the tool is a comprehensive solution for all aspects of on-page SEO and is highly recommended for those looking to improve their website’s search engine ranking.

But Semrush isn’t a very comprehensive solution for all things on-page SEO, so if you’re trying to move away from over-focusing on keywords, it might be best to invest in a tool like Outranking, which offers a more comprehensive SEO analysis solution. 

Create Rich Content To Make It to the Top

We’ll say it one more time: keywords aren’t a top-ranking factor. And in fact, they do more harm than good if you’re creating meaningless content that’s repeating one word or phrase over and over. 

So don’t fall into this SEO trap. Write for humans using human language, not for search engines. Always remember to use synonyms and phrases, as you would in real life. And invest in a tool that will help you put keywords in the right place (literally and figuratively!). 

Create unique content your readers will love with Outranking

Create winning keywords and SEO content strategy