Does keyword density still matter? Google's search-engine algorithm is constantly changing, so it's hard to keep up with the number one way to show up at the top of the search results.
In the past, the algorithm has favored high keyword density, which led to an unfortunate practice known as "keyword stuffing
," which produced content just one step above gibberish: "If you're in the market for an engagement ring, check out the engagement ring selection at Nedworth Jewelers, sellers of high-quality engagement rings." Although keyword-stuffed copy may have directed some traffic to companies' sites, readers were not likely to stick around once they realized they'd been duped.
Once Google engineers realized what their algorithm was doing to the quality of web copy, they changed the algorithm. Although the formula is still constantly being tweaked, the goal for SEO content today should be more natural, human-sounding prose, the kind that people actually enjoy reading--the kind that will keep them coming back for more.Matt Cutts
, head of Google's Webspam team, explains that mentioning a keyword a couple of times toward the beginning of the piece lets the search engine know what it's about, but if you keep mentioning it over and over, the additional keyword density won't help; in fact, it might just hurt.
So what's a copywriter to do in this new SEO climate? How can you still write good, traffic-driving content for your own site or for your clients?1. Add sub-niche keywords.
If you write for a company that manufactures and installs vinyl windows, you might very quickly run out of interesting things to say if your only keyword phrase is "vinyl windows." Although such a focused keyword phrase may earn you lots of first-time traffic, you're not likely to get repeat visitors. To keep things interesting, add sub-niche
Sub-niches are parts of your business that garner interest but may have little competition. Our vinyl windows company may also install patio doors, which would make a great sub-niche and would add some variety to the website. Generate a list of sub-niche keywords, and regularly include them in your web content.2. Take cues from social media.
Nowhere does language change faster than it does on social media. If you want your keywords and SEO content to stay fresh, you need to stay current. The best and easiest way to stay current is to stay plugged into social media.
Join LinkedIn groups that follow your industry, and spend a little time each day scanning the message boards in your chosen groups. This small time investment will come back to you in spades as you emerge as an industry leader who knows what's going on. Teenagers know that you've got to use the most current slang to be considered with-it; writers have to stay on top of this game too, and social media is your key.
As a side-note, social media also gives you content ideas. When you worry less about keyword density, you've got to think more about valuable, forward-thinking content. Ask a thought-provoking question on LinkedIn groups, Twitter, or Facebook, and the generous citizens of the Internet may provide you with weeks of content ideas. 4. Forget about keywords until you revise.
When you write the rough draft of a piece of web copy, write as if you're explaining your topic to an interesting person you just met at a party. Forget all the restraints and rules you've learned about SEO, and just write as if you were having a conversation. You may be surprised at how easily the words flow from your keyboard if you approach your piece this way.
After you've finished your rough draft, take a look at your chosen keyword or keywords for the piece, and see if you've already fit them in. Chances are, you already have an acceptable keyword density, but if you don't, try to add the keywords in where they seem natural. If adding the keywords seems to disrupt the piece's flow, add an introductory paragraph that uses the keyword phrase at least once, and wrap up the piece with another instance of the keyword.
Does keyword density matter anymore? Slightly. But your high school English teacher would be pleased to know that if you simply state your main idea, elaborate on it, and follow up at the end, your keyword density will be strong enough to keep Google's attention. Mention your keywords, yes, but strive for quality, engaging content that will keep your readers coming back for seconds.