Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video, featuring (as usual) head of web spam Matt Cutts. This time, Cutts is answering his own question, rather than a user-submitted question.
The question is: What is the ideal keyword density: 0.7%, 75, or 77%? Or is it some other number?
“A lot of people there’s some one recipe, and you can just follow that like baking cookies, and if you follow it to the letter, you’ll rank number one,” he says.
Shockingly, that’s not the case.
There’s no set percentage for keyword density, that will help you rank, according to Cutts. “That’s not the way that search engine rankings work,” he says.
“The way that modern search engines, or at least Google, are built,” says Cutts with a slight chuckle, “is that the first time you mention a word, you know, ‘Hey, that’s pretty interesting. It’s about that word.’ The next time you mention that word, ‘oh, OK. It’s still about that word.’ And once you start to mention it a whole lot, it really doesn’t help that much more. There’s diminishing returns. It’s just an incremental benefit, but it’s really not that large.”
“And what you’ll find is that if you continue to repeat stuff over and over again, then you’re getting in danger of keyword stuffing, or gibberish and those kinds of things.”
“So, the first one or two times you mention a word - that might help with your ranking. Absolutely. But just because you can say it seven or eight times, that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily help your rankings.”
“The way to think about it is this,” Cutts wraps up. “Think about the keywords that you’d like to have in your copy. Make sure your copy is long enough that you can work those keywords into your copy in a natural way and not an artificial way. And my recommendation is to either read it aloud or read it to someone else or have someone else read it, and sort of say, ‘Do you spot anything that’s artificial or stilted or that doesn’t quite read right?’ And if you can read through the copy, and have it read naturally where a person isn’t going to be annoyed by it, then you’re doing relatively well.”
Another tip for surviving Panda? Don’t annoy readers.