How Many Times Should You Use a Keyword?
How many times should you use a keyword on a page is a common question. I usually use the keyword I’m targeting in:
- the H1 title, and the URL
- one H2 subheader
- the first and last paragraph
- 1-2 times in the body text
- the name and ALT text of the main image
- the meta title and description
Moz.com makes similar recommendations, along with emphasizing that ‘content is King‘ – worry first and foremost about just writing good content that solves a problem for users, rather than a precise keyword density. You shouldn’t be forcing keywords in, in a robotic fashion.
But first, below is the approach I use before even starting an article:
Choose a Keyword
First identify what keyword you want to target. I usually start by typing rough ideas into Google – it should autosuggest phrases that people commonly search for.
I was originally going to title this article ‘How Many Times To Put a Keyword in an Article?‘ but switched that to ‘How Many Times You Should Use a Keyword?‘ based on the below.
You can also type into Ubersuggest.org to get more ideas from the Google Suggest feature.
Structure the Page Around That Keyword
So far on this page ‘How Many Times You Should Use a Keyword on a Page?‘ is in the title, URL, first sentence, name and ALT text of an image (the one above), and twice in the body text.
So off to a good start. I also linked to an authority site (the Moz link above) which is #1 in Google for the keyword I’m targeting. On this list of 200 Google ranking factors, one is linking to a site Google already considers worth reading.
Then I’ll make sure the keyword is in the meta title and description, in WordPress that looks something like this with the Yoast SEO plugin:
Now I just need it in a H2 subheader, so I’ll do a mini case study:
How Many Times You Should Use a Keyword on a Page – Case Study
I had an article on Daily Fantasy Sports vs Poker to put up, and decided to change the title to focus on the keyword ‘Poker vs Sports Betting‘.
Reason being it received a couple hundred monthly searches a month, so I went with that even though DFS and sports betting aren’t really the same. I added DFS in brackets to the title of the published page here:
As you can see it has the keyword in the URL slug, the first sentence, a H2 subheader, and the last sentence. It’s also in the image name and description.
I linked to an authority site, CalvinAyre, on a related topic.
It’s also in the meta title and description as seen on it’s Google snippet above. It ended up ranking around 13th or so in Google for a search on that keyword.
Another ranking signal is obviously all the semantic (related) keywords you use on a page – on this page terms like ‘content is King’, ‘authority site’, ‘WordPress’, ‘Yoast SEO’, ‘Google ranking’, ‘keyword density’ and so on.
On that poker vs sports betting article, terms like ‘DraftKings’, ‘GPP’, ‘aggregate projections’, ‘Holdem Manager’ etc.
You can use KeywordRevealer.com, Google Keyword Planner, or other software to find keywords to use, and their search frequencies.
Write naturally, with a keyword in mind and placed in various HTML elements (e.g. H2 is a ‘HTML element’, as is H1, H3, images, etc.) around the page, so that Google understands what the page is about.
Using the keyword around 5-6 times per page has worked fine for me, plus a few variations of it and plenty of semantic keywords on top – but those should come into the article naturally without much thought. Avoid focusing on ‘writing for search engines’ or Google may penalize your content for ‘keyword stuffing’.
Google search the keyword you’re targeting and see what existing webpages are writing about – skim the top 10 Google results and try to create something even more useful. Consider linking to one of the best.
If your content is so amazing others can’t help but link to it as a valuable resource, keywords won’t even matter anymore.