Keyword Density, Prominence, and Proximity Explained
Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.
When writing body copy for your website’s home page, it’s important to keep three things in mind. By now most anyone who is working on optimizing their website for Google and the other search engines knows that excessive placement of the keyword phrases for which they are optimizing can hurt their ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
That’s known as keyword stuffing or keyword spamming.
Put simply, keyword density is the ratio (or percentage) of the number of times your keyword appears on the page of your article, versus the number of words on the page. For example, if your home page has 500 words of body copy and your keyword phrase appears 5 times, your keyword density is one-percent. No one knows for sure what the search engines consider ideal — the number changes with every algorithm update — but conservatively, two to four-percent is probably in the correct range. I wouldn’t exceed six or seven-percent under any circumstances.
Keyword prominence refers to how prominent your keywords are within key elements of your web page. Specifically, how close to the beginning of the page’s TITLE tag, heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), and meta DESCRIPTION, your keyword phrase is placed. You should always put your most important keyword phrase at the very beginning of your TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and H1 and H2 tags. Also try to begin your first and last sentences of body copy with the important keyword phrases.
A search term can be made up of a combination of keywords. The keyword proximity refers to the distance between the search term’s individual keywords. For example: a website contains the keywords that make up the search term “Detroit Corporate Photographer” in the sentence “Detroit Photographer Blake Discher specializes in corporate photography”. The search term proximity between “Detroit” and “Photographer” is excellent, zero words, but between “Photographer” and “corporate” it is four words. The smaller the distance between a search term’s individual keywords, the more relevant it will be from a search engine’s point of view.
From an SEO standpoint, the sentence in italics above would be better written, “Detroit Corporate Photographer Blake Discher creates images for blah, blah, blah.” In this way all three of the search phrase words the searcher entered are next to one another.
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