Keyword Use: How Many Keywords Should You Use In Content




document with keywords on a table showing relationships to SEO and content.

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If you are new to writing blog content, plenty of misinformation, including “SEO plugins,” will tell you that keywords have a magic density to rank your website.

This is the story of a decade ago and tools not adapting, so how many keywords should I use?

There is no one answer to how many effective keywords an article should have. Keyword density and placement are essential, as well as how relevant keywords are to the content.

However, search engines can also penalize the overuse of keywords, so finding a balance that works for your content is crucial.

Then what is the right way, you may wonder. The magic is in less is more, and focusing on specific cases of use instead of volume of use matters.

Then you can pair this with semantic phrases with similar but different wordings and make rich content for humans and crawlers.

document with keywords on a table showing relationships to SEO and content.

How Many Keywords Should an Article Have?

This is more about distribution than targeting a specific number of times to use one single keyword, as keyword variations help search engine algorithms understand your content better.

Your content will rank for hundreds to thousands of keywords over time which means the one you target will not be the only one you get traffic from a search engine for.

Most true SEOs will have some specific use cases where you want and place the most value on the use of your primary targeted keyword:

  • Title & H1
  • Meta Description
  • Within your intro paragraph
  • In the first H2
  • Within an image alt tag
  • Within content only when natural
  • Conclusion or end of the content

So on a first pass or if you don’t use optimization plugins like SurferSEO, Frase, or Neuron Writer, this is the best way to align your use of your primary keyword for the best benefit.

How Many Keywords Should You Use On A Page?

The number of keywords you highlights on a given post or page depends largely on the desirability and overall relevancy of those particular words, in addition to how well they support the general message conveyed by the page’s content.

Although it might take some time, thorough keyword research will allow you to develop a list of 5-10 keywords you may use per post.

Eventually, you won’t want to focus on all ten and whittle this down to the core keywords that align tightly with your post.

There are three main types of keywords to think about when regarding your on-page SEO:

  • Primary Keyword
  • Secondary Keywords
  • Additional Keywords

Using one primary keyword, 1-3 secondary keywords, and 1-4 additional keywords would be appropriate for the content’s length and depth.

This can help you have a chance to start ranking for one of them; then, as you reach six months, you could use the data from GSC and further revise your optimization strategy according to how well your content currently ranks.

Two Keys to Identifying Aligned Keywords

While there are probably hundreds of ways to look at this involving tools, I like to cover the easiest free methods to look at keywords.

My typical way to look is to think about the user intent and then look to the SERP once I have built a list of similar keywords.

User Intent

User intent is how someone seeks to fulfill a need when they type in a keyword.

Are they looking for information to make a purchase, how to do something, or something else entirely?

You can start by thinking of how you would answer the query yourself if someone asked and build your list using related terms, synonyms, semantic phrases, etc.

Focusing and aligning your content to match intent will make it far more valuable to the visitor and is a way to showcase your knowledge on the subject matter.

SERP Results

Once I understand the searcher’s intent, I go through the similar keywords I have to find if any of them, when searched, show me the same SERP or a close match (7+ out of 10), and then I group these in my spreadsheet.

This close SERP match shows Google believes them to be the answer to each other or, if well off-topic.

Being off-topic would indicate they have no real matching answer for search intent which means a big gap could exist you can take advantage of.

If they match and are all on the topic, these keywords should be included in the single post as secondary keywords for the one piece of content.

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

Stuffing is when you try to force keywords into places that don’t fit naturally. This is frowned upon by search engines and can lead to ranking penalties if done excessively.

It would help if you strived for your content to be natural and readable, as well as convey the message of how it will help solve a problem or answer the query the searcher has posed.

Keyword Frequency vs. Keyword Density

Keyword frequency is how often a keyword is used throughout a piece of content, whereas keyword density is how often the keyword appears relative to other words on the page.

Both are important and should be considered when considering how many keywords an article should have.

You want to ensure that your use of keywords feels natural but does not detract from how readable or helpful the content is.

Final Thoughts on How Many Keywords Should an Article Have

In summary, how many keywords an article should have depends mainly on how well the particular words fit with the message conveyed in the content and how relevant they are to your overall optimization strategy.

Generally, it is recommended to include one primary keyword, 1-3 secondary keywords, and 1-4 additional keywords per post.

Make sure to avoid keyword stuffing, as this can lead to penalties from search engines, and instead, focus on making sure that your content is readable and helpful for the user.

This will help you reach a high ranking on search engine results pages.

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