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Keyword Crazy: Frequency, Density and Prominence

Posted on 7.24.2008

Words are the lifeblood of the Web - always have been, always will be. The keywords and phrases that we use to define our websites are an integral part of succeeding with our collective missions. To leverage these words and phrases to our benefit however, it is imperative to understand how to use them to our greatest benefit. The frequency, density and prominence of keywords on websites directly impacts how well you rank.

Most Web professionals charged with the task of on-page optimization understand that keywords and keyword phrases need to be used on web pages in order to rank - in fact it is fundamental. Let's take a look at the factors that play role in ranking well with keywords and how to use them to our advantage.

Keyword Frequency is the number of times a keyword phrase occurs in a page. That's a bit misleading actually - let's clarify. While it is useful to repeat a phrase no fewer than three times on a page, you will probably find it useful (as will your users when it comes to readability) to break up those keywords. As such, for a keyphrase such as "inexpensive airfare tickets" it is essential to use those words independently. While the goal should be to use the original keyword phrase several times in your copy, using them multiple times independently also provides a substantial benefit. Check out  Accelerated Ideas web tool to calculate keyword frequency.

Keyword Density is the percentage of the total words on the page divided by the number of times the keyword phrase appears. What do the search engines look for on keyword density? Between 3-8% if you're in the school of thought that keyword density is even a factor in rankings. If you have 350 words on the page, you’ll want each word of the keyword phrases to add up to 18-25 total occurrences. When working with your keywords in the copy, make sure all those keyword phrases are spaced out well - some in the header tags (H1, H2) and throughout the content itself (beginning, middle, end). KeywordDensity.com is perhaps the most popular tool to analyze density and word depth.

Keyword Prominence has risen in, well, prominence the past few years. The first word of the page’s title, or header is the best and most prominent place for keyword phrases to appear. So, titles, headers and sub headers are perfect places for keywords. Another good place on the page is at the very end. You’ll also want to scatter them a few places throughout the body text. Keyword prominence is important, but not as important as the other factors.

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