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Keyword Density: What Keywords to Avoid and Why

Keywords & Keyword Density Explained

There’s been a lot of discussion between SEO experts on the role keywords play in our content. And as Google continually updates their search algorithms, we only expect these discussions to continue.

Google Algorithms

Whether you’re a keyword newbie or a veteran researcher, there are things you need to know when it comes to optimizing the content on your website. As we mentioned before, Google continually updates the intelligence ranking of our websites. More specifically, the ranking of each page on our website. Before we discuss keywords themselves, we’ll need to break down what these tools are and what they do.

There are three Google algorithms you need to be optimizing for:

  • Google Panda
  • Google Penguin
  • Google Hummingbird


Especially focused on website content quality, Google Panda aims to lower the ranking of irrelevant, older websites.


Google Penguin ranks websites through link quality. This algorithm weeds out website content riddled with low-quality links or links obtained from spammy, unreliable sources. Basically, Google Penguin makes it harder to game the SEO system.


In the era of smartphone use, it was only a matter of time before Google adjusted its algorithms to include mobile. While Panda looks at the quality of website content, Hummingbird analyzes the meaning of search content. Prior to implementing Google Hummingbird, the search engine looked at individual words in a search query. Now, it processes the actual meaning of words we search for, whether it’s a full sentence or a mesh of individual words. This change is what inspired question boxes like this one:

Before implementing Google Hummingbird, Google simply presented page results instead of the answer to a question that we searched for. If the pages on your website have a clear answer presented in a question box, you’ll rank higher.

Ultimately, these three algorithms are looking for the same thing: keyword density.

Now, How Do I Use Keywords?

Keyword density refers to how often search queries, words, and terms appear in your webpage content. While there is a formula to calculate keyword density, there are WordPress plugins like Yoast that do it for you. There isn’t a consensus on the ideal percentage, but there are some things you can do to make sure you’re not overdoing it. These tips will also help improve your page rankings.

Avoid keyword stuffing

Being guilty of keyword stuffing means you over-saturate your content with your keywords. You want your words or phrases to appear in your content⁠—but not in every sentence. If you over-saturate your content, it becomes repetitive and aggressive to readers. This, in turn, will cause Google to lower the ranking of your pages because you’re considered to be manipulating the system. Here’s a good resource on keyword stuffing in case you want a more in-depth example.

Don't use keywords that are too broad

Keywords should be specific. Using keywords that are too broad may trick Google Panda and Hummingbird into thinking your website is irrelevant or full of spam. When thinking of how to optimize your website, think of the direct audience you’re trying to reach. Try thinking of what you would search for if you were looking for what each page on your website is about, and go from there.

Don't use keywords that are too specific

Making your keywords too specific will trick Google Algorithms into thinking your content is irrelevant. Again, think of what you would type into Google. Additionally, consider asking your coworkers on different teams what they would search if they were looking for information on your content. Better yet⁠—ask your audience directly. That way, you’ll avoid using unrelatable jargon in your keywords. An outside perspective is always helpful!

If you’re looking to optimize your website for Google, consider reaching out to our team. Our experts would be happy to discuss keyword strategy and ideal SEO practices to help you achieve digital success. Or, if you’re looking for another resource on keywords, check out this other blog post about Why Keyword Density Matters.

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