Why minimum keyword counts are useless (and which keyword strategies really get results with search engines)

You lost me at Blah Blah Blah. Dull repetitions will make readers leave.

Keyword stuffing is both tiresome work and wasted energy.

Have you ever been told by clients or teachers to use certain keywords at least x times in your text to stand out from the masses? Then you probably know how it feels to become sick of your own text because the further you write the more artificial it feels. And the more energy you waste on trying to figure out how to build “used car” into your text for the umptiest time the less creative you get. Well, good news, fellas: It. Does. Not. Matter.

Keyword density is a SEO myth that has been long proven irrelevant due to search engine algorithm evolution – but it is a persistent myth. This is partly because it was the traditional way of ensuring high rankings for a very long time and because few people study how search engines actually work. Unfortunately, there is also an armada of SEO specialists who operate with outdated knowledge and keep preaching the gospel of keyword density.

Understanding search engines is the key to more visibility

It is common knowledge that search engines play an essential part in today’s digitalized information and business culture. And because this deeply impacts every one of us, everyone should also take the time to gain at least a basic understanding of how search engines select which results to present to us.

Especially if you are a content writer, a self-publishing web master, a blogger, influencer, author,…it is important and, honestly, also liberating to know how this stuff works and what to practice or avoid when writing for online publication.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing and why does it make or break your rankings?

Synonyms and keyword diversity increase visibility and readability.

Now, back to keywords: As mentioned above, keyword density counts are NOT the way to go. Infact, Google will penalize keyword stuffing (this was introduced with the Florida update back in 2003). So the next time someone asks you to use unnaturally high occurrences of certain keywords to push their sites’ visibility you might want to tell them that they are about to handicap themselves.

Instead, Google applies a method called “Latent Semantic Indexing” (LSI) that looks for texts which show broad and in-depth coverage of their topic. Google’s algorithm assumes that those texts offer content of higher quality and therefore are most relevant for users. They call this “topical authority”.

What this means for your writing? Instead of using dull repetitions that ruin the flow of your text (and are also less likely to gain you popularity among readers) you are better off using synonyms and a diversity of relevant keywords.

A blog post about a football match that your favorite team played is very likely to contain a lot of relevant keywords by nature. But the point of LSI is that even if you are writing a commercial text to sell a ticket for the match the use of diverse keywords will yield better rankings than stuffing your text with “buy tickets” until you choke.

Search engines run a huge popularity contest that rewards quality content

Texts that are nice reads will always be more successful. So keep calm and love reading.

Since Google will reward you for quality content you can just write a text you actually like instead of slaving away on prescribed density counts. This comes with the positive side effect that people will actually enjoy reading your text and stay longer or may even come back. Two more factors that influence rankings highly as Google also measures dwell time and user engagement in determining how relevant a website is.

If you really want to optimize your results it’s not all that easy, though. There are some rules in the determination and use of specific keywords, text structure and meta information. We will look at this in more detail during my next posts.

For now, just try to use your keywords rather at the beginning of your sentences if you can. The weight of words is roughly assigned from left to right. So all search engines assume that the information you put at the beginning of your sentence is the most important.

You need users to win the contest. So write for users.

The key to great results is to write for your audience and not for search engines. Your rankings will rise if your content is popular. Welcome to the freedom of writing naturally.

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