Faith-Based Entrepreneurs

Ignite Your Light & Life through the Power of Connection

Who else wants a proven internet business?


How Many Keywords Are Enough?

search engine copywriting by
web site

Send Feedback to Karon Thackston
Print
About Author
Report Problem
Tweet This

Share on Facebook Pin it




Yesterday, I received an email from someone who'd purchased one of my ebooks. Her question was one I've been asked several times before: "How many instances of keywords within the copy are enough?" That's like asking, "How long is a piece of string?" There isn't one answer.

Proponents of keyword density formulas will quickly spout out a percentage: 4 percent, 6 percent, 12 percent. However, I wonder where they get these figures from. If you do a search in Google for any keyphrase (say [cast iron frying pan], for example), you'll immediately see why keyword density formulas don't add up. Either version - cast iron or cast-iron - bring the same listings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Please note: I was looking at the source code for each page so as to include mentions in tags as well as on the page.

Cast Iron Frying Pan

Your results may be different than what I see, as everybody does not view results from the same database. But, when I type in [cast iron frying pan] (no brackets, of course), the first site that comes up is http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/CastIronPans.htm. Total word count: about 1,611. Keyword density for [cast iron frying pan]: 0 percent. Keyword density for [cast iron]: 3 percent. Keyword density for [frying pan]: < 1 percent.

Next up, Ask Yahoo: http://ask.yahoo.com/20000419.html. Total word count: about 622. Keyword density for [cast iron frying pan]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [cast iron]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [frying pan]: < 1 percent. In the Number 3 position is Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Pre-Seasoned-Cast-Iron-Skillet/dp/B00063RWUM. Total word count: about 2,405. Keyword density for [cast iron frying pan]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [cast iron]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [frying pan]: < 1 percent.

Mexico Cruise Vacation

Here's another example: [Mexico cruise vacation]. At Number 1 we see Cruise Web, http://www.cruiseweb.com/MEXICO.HTM. Total word count: about 488. Keyword density for [Mexico cruise vacation]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [Mexico cruise]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [cruise vacation]: < 1 percent.

eCruises.com is up next with their page found at http://www.ecruises.com/. Total word count: about 238. Keyword density for [Mexico cruise vacation]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [Mexico cruise]: < 1 percent. Keyword density for [cruise vacation]: 0 percent.

It goes on and on. Yes, you do find some sites that have really high keyword densities, but it is not a given that attaining a certain across-the-board keyword density will guarantee you good success. In fact, from what I've seen, keyword density has not been a valid measure of SEO copywriting success in years. I believe it once was, but Google and other engines quickly plugged the loophole.

Does Frequency Not Count At All?

Does that mean that engines don't give any consideration to how often keyphrases are used within the copy? No. In fact, The Official Google Blog recently did a series entitled Technologies Behind Google Ranking, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/technologies-behind-google-ranking.html. In one of the posts, the author states, "The core technology in our ranking system comes from the academic field of Information Retrieval (IR). The IR community has studied search for almost 50 years. It uses statistical signals of word salience, like word frequency, to rank pages." He continues with, "IR gave us a solid foundation, and we have built a tremendous system on top using links, page structure, and many other such innovations."

Other Google documents make mention of the need to include key terms in your copy, so it is established that keywords in copy can play an important role. However, I do not see evidence that a standard, across-the-board "keyword density" is at play. Not to mention, forcing phrases into your page text to the point that it sounds utterly stupid makes no sense. It's not going to help your rankings (except maybe on some sub-engines), and it will almost certainly turn off your site visitors.

So, back to the original question: "How many keyphrases are enough?" That's a judgment call that comes with experience. Here are a few guidelines - not carved-in-stone rules - but guidelines you can consider. And no, don't do them all every time.

Keyword Inclusion Guidelines

1) I make an effort to include keyphrase(s) in the headlines and sub-heads if at all possible.

2) Adding keyphrases about once or twice per paragraph is a good goal. I never count words or run keyword density percentages.

3) Focus on writing in natural language. Yes, you want to incorporate keywords, but not to the point that you ruin your copy. It should sound natural.

4) Read your copy out loud. If it sounds stupid or redundant to you, it will sound stupid and redundant to your site visitor.

5) If it makes sense to do so, I try to include keyphrase(s) in bold, italic, bulleted lists, or in other text that is specially formatted. If you wouldn't bold or italicize the words or phrases to emphasize them to your visitors, however, don't make a special exception for the engines. These are what I call Brownie point tactics. The impact won't be significant, but every little bit helps.

Bottom line? Don't sacrifice the quality and conversion power of your copy to chase search engine rabbits. In the end, it won't be worth it.

How do you put enough keywords into your copy without it sounding ridiculous? By using the 11 clever techniques in Karon’s ebook Writing With Keywords. Get the 4th edition available now at http://www.writingwithkeywords.com. © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Please scroll down to leave a comment below...

Contact the Author

Karon Thackston
Web & SEO copywriting
Karon Thackston's web site

awesome comments

Audios & Videos You Might Enjoy on This Subject

How to Determine Your Target Market
Your copy always works better for search engines and for conversions if you have a good grasp on who your target audience is. Segment your audience. For example, if you're a life coach and your ta ...

How to Craft a Creative Sales Page
Laura West gives knowledge-based entrepreneur, Martina Muir's sales page a makeover. This is a great real life example that will give you ideas on how to craft a creative sales page that grabs people ...

Crafting Compelling Copy for Your Knowledge-Based Business
Karon Thackston of MarketingWords.com talks about the most common mistake knowledge-based businesses make with the copy on their web sites and how to correct it. ...

Copywriting Tip: Using Bullets to Engage Your Readers
From short ecommerce product descriptions to enormously long sales letters; ask any copywriter and they’ll quickly tell you that bullet points are one of the most valuable tools in their skill set. W ...

search engine copywriting

Related Articles



This article has been viewed 1452 time(s).

 

 


Upcoming IgnitePoint Events

Ignite your light, life and faith at an upcoming live IgnitePoint city event. Also find out how you can become a speaker at one of these events!

IgnitePoint - Atlanta
Spring 2015


IgnitePoint - Salt Lake City
Summer 2015

Imagine a TEDxR-style event where you can mention God, Jesus Christ and tell your faith-promoting stories! Learn more here.



Featured Collaborator

Felicia Slattery


A teacher and trainer for more than a decade at businesses, colleges, and universities all over Chicagoland, Felicia J. Slattery, is a published author, popular professional speaker, and communication consultant and coach to entrepreneurs around the world. She teaches teleseminars, is a keynote speaker, and offers private coaching, as well as various written and home-study programs to service-oriented entrepreneurs on improving their communication skills in order to present their best image and see increased cash flow to succeed at work and enjoy happy and fulfilled personal lives. Felicia J. Slattery holds two Master’s Degrees: one in Adult Education and Training and another in Communication. She knows the value of just one life and seeks to serve her clients as they serve others. Her enthusiastic passion for communication is contagious because she knows that one important message delivered with power can transform a life. Meet Felicia...

You can be featured on our site! Ask How!

Books by this Author

Copywriting Makeovers
FREE w/Signup - Watch as bad copy turns into persuasive copy that converts like crazy & ranks high w/the engines. Free w/signup for blog updates.

Step-by-Step Copywriting Course
Step-by-Step Copywriting Course
Write web copy that ranks high & converts like crazy. Learn the secrets that launched Gorton's Seafood, American Boating & others to the top.

Writing With Keywords
Writing With Keywords
The #1 mistake in SEO copywriting is using keywords the same way every time. Discover 11 clever ways to use keywords naturally in your copy.