On-Page SEO Factors – Body Content & Keyword Density

In the past, it was possible to see some benefit from optimizing Title and Meta tags in an entire section of your site without editing any on-page content. This is no longer the case. If you are going through the process of updating Title and Meta tags throughout your site, then you should also make sure that the keywords you are focusing on are used in the unique content on each page. The more content that you have the better, but the quality of the content is more important than the quantity.

Keyword Density

The keyword density percentage for a particular phrase in the body content of a page can be calculated with the following formula:

Keyword Density % =   (Number of instances of keyword phrase) (Number of words in phrase)  
Total # of body words on page
  x 100   

The first thing we should say about keyword density is that there is no ideal percentage for SEO. It would be nice be able to edit your pages until you hit that perfect percentage and then see your rankings improve. Unfortunately for everyone who is giving search engine optimization a try, that's not the way it works. However, the reality of keyword densities may end up being less work for you than if there were an ideal percentage to hit. The truth is that it is more than enough to be within a range of 2 to 7 percent keyword density for any phrase that you are trying to optimize a particular landing page for. Any density less than 2% may not be high enough for the search engines, and any percentages higher than that range may look somewhat spammy.

It's extremely unlikely that stuffing keywords more than we recommend here will generate a penalty on its own. However, if it is one of several red flags that Google considers over-optimization, you could end up getting yourself filtered. There's no upside from stuffing your pages with keywords, so we feel there's no reason to do it.

You should also consider the distribution of the keyword phrases that appear on your pages. For instance, let's assume that you are using a keyword phrase five times on a 500 word page. You should try to distribute those usages evenly throughout the page – approximately once every 100 words or so – instead of stuffing the phrase five times somewhere randomly on the page. An even distribution will read much more naturally and will be unlikely to throw up any red flags for keyword stuffing.

Page Length

We do not necessarily feel that page length is directly factored into the search engines' algorithms when they determine a page's relevancy. However, it is safe to say that more content is generally better. Typically we will recommend that a page contain at least 400 words of unique content, though don't consider it a rule that can never be broken. For example, you might have created a page template for your site specifically for embedding videos. It's not always going to be possible to write 400 words describing the video, nor would it be very useful for the visitor. In that instance, a short description describing the video would be more than adequate for search engine optimization purposes. Assuming you have also gone through the trouble of optimizing the page's Title, Meta Description, and <h1> tags, then it should be able to potentially rank for whatever keywords are most relevant to the video. Please note that we said "potentially rank" instead of saying that it "will rank". Off-page SEO factors are what will ultimately determine that video page's ranking. We're simply saying that it could adequately function as a landing page from an on-page SEO standpoint.

It's clear based on what we've said thus far that more content is generally better but not always a requirement. We've also stated that page length probably doesn't factor directly into rankings. So how does more content potentially help a landing page? First, if the content is well-written, informational and interesting, then it is much more likely to be read by someone and then linked to for its value as a resource. The same goes for content that is entertaining. People will link to resourceful and/or entertaining content. So more content can make a page more linkable, which will usually improve its ranking potential.

The second benefit of having more content on a page is increased organic search traffic from long-tail keyword phrases. The more content that you have on a page the more keyword phrases you can possibly optimize for. Additionally, the more content that you have the more likely you are to have someone arrive from a random string of words that appear on your page. Each one of these potential keywords will have minimal search activity individually, but when you add them all up it is a significant number.

The biggest takeaway from this section is that there is no ideal page length. Your pages can be as long (or short) as you want them to be. Just remember that more content, assuming it's link-worthy content, is always better. Theoretically speaking, however, you could make a page rank for one or two key phrases with a minimal amount of content if it had the right amount of external relevance through inbound links. Conversely, if you don't have any inbound links to a page, then no amount of content will directly help those one or two key phrases. In other words, a 200-word page about Keyword A has no significantly better chance of ranking than a 500-word page about Keyword A. It will only potentially help with long-tail keywords that you wouldn't be able to optimize for without the additional content to work with.

Key Takeaways – Best Practices for Optimizing Body Content

To sum up, here are some key things to remember when creating or editing body content for your landing pages:

  • There is no ideal keyword density. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Shoot for a percentage somewhere between 2 and 7%. If your density is on the higher end of that range, then consider changing some instances of your keyword to target slightly different keyword variations.
  • More content is almost always better, but remember that the quality of your content is what is most important. You want content that someone would want to link to because it is interesting, entertaining and/or resourceful.

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