By the staff of Work Media
Keyword density, keyword prominence, and keyword frequency are three important measures used by search engines when ranking web pages. If you properly control these measures, it can greatly help improve your firm’s search engine rankings.
Keyword density is the number of times a keyword or phrase appears in an area of a web page divided by the total number of words in that area. If the word “lawyer” appears three times in the body section of a web page, and there are a total of 300 words, then the keyword density would 1% (3 / 300).
If keyword density is too low, you will lose out on relevancy for the search phrase. If it is too high, the search engines might think you are trying to spam your way into their indexes, and you will be penalized. A good target to shoot for in your copy is 3 – 5%. We recommend not going much above 5%. 10% is probably way too high. Often, just 1% is enough.
To get a good feel for what your keyword density should be, you should compare the keyword density in the body (and other sections) of your web pages to web pages that already rank high for a particular search phrase. This is a good strategy in general – mimic, and then improve upon, what sites are doing that already rank highly for your desired search phrases.
Your target keyword density for your page title and other “short” elements, such as headers, will be different from the body copy. In your title, try to maximize keyword density without repeating the keywords. For example, if your target keyword is “Los Angeles DUI Attorney”, then that exact phrase would make a good title, which would give you a keyword density of 100% for that phrase (very high keyword densities are okay in short elements because there are so fewer total words).
Here is a good free tool to use that calculates keyword density as well as other information about your site:
Keyword prominence is how near the beginning of an area of a web page the keyword appears. For instance, if the keyword is the first word in the body text of a web page, then the keyword prominence is 100%. The closer to the beginning of a section (thus, the higher the keyword prominence) the more relevant the web page is considered for that keyword. We highly recommend that you place your most important keywords at the very beginning of your page title and as near the beginning of the body copy as possible.
Keyword frequency is the total number of times that a keyword or phrase appears in an area of a web page. For the title, we recommend a keyword frequency of one or two at the most. Any more than that, and you might be accused of keyword stuffing the title tag. For the body copy, use the keyword as many times as you can, but use keyword density as the measure of when to stop. As a rule of thumb, you want to get keyword frequency as high as you can while keeping keyword density at less than 5%.
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