Overestimating the Ideal Keyword Density and How I May Have Sabotaged My Own Blog

Ideal Keyword DensityProbably one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to blogging is that there isn’t really someone to tell you when you’re messing up. You can ask your friends, you can read articles, but even sometimes that’s not always accurate. Ultimately there’s a lot of trial and error, and you don’t really know you’ve blown it until you actually are. It’s quite possible I may have done that very thing with trying to follow the myth of the ideal keyword density.


Mistaking the Ideal Keyword Density for Optimization: 

Here’s what’s up. In my vast attempts to try to make this blog more SEO friendly and gain more natural traffic, I’ve really started to focus on the importance keyword relevancy in my blog posts. I’ve read a ton of articles, bought Long Tail Pro, and have even been relying on my WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast (which recommends that I should have a keyword density of at least 1%).

Ha, ha! I thought I had the secret formula and would rank high with Google in no time. So over the Christmas break, I went back through several of my more popular posts and tried to re-optimize them. Bring on the organic search traffic!

But by doing so, I may have read too far into the importance of keyword density and took things too far.

It’s been over a month and I seem to ranking less as well on a few of those posts. In fact, my click-through seems to be down. What’s going on here?

It turns out I may have “over” optimized some of those old blog posts – to the point where these posts may get red-flagged by the Big-G.

I was reading one of my new favorite sites, Niche Pursuits, and came across the post How to Rank in Google: The Beginners Ultimate Guide. This should be pretty basic stuff, but it never ceases to amaze me what I’ll find. Well, as it turns out, about half way down the page, there was a section called “The Importance of Keyword Relevancy”. And as it turns out, I was doing things wrong:

“Yes, you want to mention your keyword in your post, but don’t go overboard! Mentioning your keyword once or twice in your article is sufficient! If you start mentioning your targeted keyword in every paragraph, this is called “keyword stuffing” and Google could actually make you rank lower because of it. So, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by overusing your keyword – a couple of times is just fine.” 

Darn! Could this really be true?

Yes it is. I began to comb through the web and found that SEOmoz had a similar post that dismissed the importance of keyword density.

So … for now I’m hoping that Google is kind in their next PageRank update (which should be just around the corner). That – and it looks like I have a lot of work to do behind the scenes for at least a few weeks putting things right the way they should be.

So to you my reader – rather than chasing after the ideal keyword density myth, remember that you only really need your targeted keyword phrase in the title, first paragraph, one header, image text, meta description, and once or twice throughout the text. That’s about it.


At Least I Got One Thing Right:

It hasn’t been all bad lately. But for this one I think luck had more to do with it than skill …

If you’ve been following my stock purchase update, then you’d know that I altered my earlier plans in favor of bought Pitney Bowes (PBI). I pulled the trigger on my purchases this week, and it looks like I couldn’t have picked a better time to buy!

Ideal Keyword Density


More Good News – An Update on Comcast:

A quick follow-up on my $1200 phone call last week with Comcast – It turns out there is another surprise. I had some issues with my service this week due to the weather, so I had to call them again to resend the signal. As the customer service rep was rattling through my service status, I heard her mention the word “HBO”. I stopped her – wait “Do I have HBO?” It turns out that HBO somehow got thrown in with my $99 per month package. So that whole thing just got even better! Bring on Game of Thrones!


Bloggers Who Know What They’re Doing On Their Blogs:

In case you missed them, here are a few great stories you should check out this weekend:


Carnivals & Mentions:

My Money Design was featured on the following sites this week:

Thanks to everyone for linking to my site and enjoying my posts. I really appreciate your support and hope you continue to visit!


Posts This Week:

  1. Is the Conventional System to Create Wealth Rigged?
  2. 4 Passive Income Ideas I Learned From Robert Kiyosaki
  3. Video Conferencing Benefits for Small Business
  4. Tips and Tricks for How to Save on Gas in 2013
  5. How No Physical Life Insurance Would Be Better Than Nothing


  1. says

    For a couple of weeks there I was really looking into maximizing keyword effectiveness and I found that my posts didn’t really rank all that well.

    Now I just write and make sure the keyword I want to target is in the title and at least once in the body. It seems to work and the amount of search traffic I am getting to my blog is sky rocketing.

    • MMD says

      Agreed. I think it has far more to do with picking the right keywords rather than density. Now I’ve just got to balance the equation and make Google happy!

  2. says

    That’s awesome that you got HBO if you watch it. Just watch out for when the promotion ends because you will get charged for it eventually. It might be a 3 6 or 12 month promo.

    Stinks about the keyword density thing but another thing to consider is your target readers. Are you aiming for bloggers to be your main audience or people looking for PF advice? If the latter you might want to avoid talking about blogging too much. I like the blogging stuff but it turns some people off. Just a thought :)
    Lance at Money Life and More recently posted..$999.99 Giveaway, Round Up, Mentions and Carnivals #41My Profile

    • MMD says

      The rep said 24 months on the HBO which seems really long. But oh well I’ll take it!

      Good point on the blogging topics. But I think as my blog becomes a decent source of income, you may start to see more “how to improve your blog so you can make money” posts on here.

  3. says

    There are only so many hours in the day so I haven’t looked much into keywords, some posts rank very well and other not so much, or they rank for a weird keyword, and I don’t really know why. I would rather write another post on a similar topic than go back and undo previous work, G is too strange.
    Pauline recently posted..99 money mistakes and a $999.99 giveaway!My Profile

    • MMD says

      I’ve tried doing that also – good trick. Its funny, but it does seem to have some benefit. Re-posting your old posts as new (and changing a few words) has also worked pretty well.

  4. says

    Ahhh! So jealous that you’re going to be watching Game of Thrones! We have yet to catch up on Season 2. I’ve heard the same thing about keyword optimization. That nowadays, the best way to optimize with google is to use your keyword naturally and then use related words throughout the article. (This usually happens naturally if you’re competently writing something authoritative. I’m not claiming to do that on a consistent basis. Sometimes I just bitch about deals gone wrong.)
    femmefrugality recently posted..Big Let-Downs on the Deal FrontMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Call your cable company and ask for a better deal! It worked here. The worst they can say is no.

      Very true. I’ve read that their algorithm can identify synonyms and that actually helps because they consider that to be more natural text.

      I can completely identify with not doing it every time. There’s a lot of times I just write to write and don’t really put a lot of strategy in it.

  5. says

    Keyword density and research is so over my head that if i tried to implement it things would go wrong for sure. It seems to me that nobody really has the perfect formula and even if they’re close it will change next week!I think keeping posts natural is the best way to go.
    Alexa recently posted..$25 Amazon Gift Card GiveawayMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I also think keeping them natural will also help you the best in the long run. No matter what Google decides now or later, no one can ever fault you for writing what you want to.

    • MMD says

      Hopefully I can crack the code and share it with everyone. But for now you guys can learn from mistakes and see what NOT to do.

  6. says

    Thanks for the insight MMD! I go back and forth on this myself. I bought LTP a few weeks back as well and love doing the research, but never know how much to include my keyword. I’ve heard by some that 1% is the magic number and I find that when I write to that it can, at times, just not read very well.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Get Money for Unwanted GiftsMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I always thought 1% was good to, but now I’m targeting much, much lower than that. It has made writing posts a hell of a lot easier now that I don’t have to work it in so much! I guess time will tell if I’m on the right road or not.

  7. says

    My experience is that the rankings are a lot more dynamic than most people think, and thereby it’s a lot less likely that anything you do artificially will have much impact. A few years ago, I tried seriously optimizing the article titles and sentences and so forth for a few months.

    In one sense, I was amazed at how well it worked. I was able to get a number of articles on the first page of the search engines for the keywords I wanted. But it didn’t really help my overall stats much. People still didn’t click on the links that much, and when they came to my site, they didn’t stay. Maybe the metadata snippet wasn’t helpful, maybe the articles were too long and boring, maybe the layout of my site sucked, maybe there was just no buzz when they got there. Who knows. But the bottom line is that despite the initial ranking, the posts weren’t popular, and the search engines are essentially ranking by what they think is most popular. Thus, the engines quickly figured this out and dropped the posts down somewhere in the 5th to 10th page, which is (I suppose) where they belonged all along based on content popularity.

    So it’s not easy to game any of this. If the popularity of the traffic the search engines send you isn’t consistent with where they are ranking you, they will very quickly adjust, in a matter of days or even hours.
    S. B. recently posted..Year-End NoteMy Profile

    • MMD says

      The whole SEO process is definitely a moving target. I’m glad to hear you share your experiences on this. In a lot of ways your conclusions reflect some of the frustration I’ve had. But when I read about SPI or Niche Pursuits bringing in +$500 per month off of one niche site, it gives me hope that there is something to this whole process and a perhaps even a pot of gold at the end of it all.

      • says

        Yes, do not be discouraged, MMD. I also believe there are a lot of good opportunities out there. I just tend to believe they center around a good (and somewhat novel) idea, and not so much optimizing existing ideas.

        A few months ago, I was floored to find out that the husband of one of my wife’s friends had quit his job because a relatively simple internet site he started was raking in more money than his day job – and he had a really high paying day job. So stuff like that is certainly possible.
        S. B. recently posted..Year-End NoteMy Profile

        • MMD says

          Reading all those income reports on other blogs, I’m beginning to think this is more common than we realize. But I do agree. This can’t be sustained by just re-inventing the wheel. You need something that sticks – something that people can believe in.

    • MMD says

      To some degree, that’s probably all you really need to do! Sometimes as I read through all the technical stuff, I wonder if we’re just making it way harder than it needs to be.

  8. says

    1% wasn’t a myth. It was what actually worked until recently. That same post by Spencer is what also changed my mindset on the keyword density topic. I also use SEO by Yoast and now just make sure that I don’t go over 1%. I include my keywords usually in the first sentence, somewhere in the last paragraph, and wherever else it comes natural throughout the article.
    Matthew Allen recently posted..Passive Income Report – January 2013My Profile

    • MMD says

      But doesn’t it drive you crazy (just a little bit) to not see all green dots at the bottom of your post when the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin checks your post? :) I’m re-training myself to ignore some of the “helpful hints” it gives you on how to better optimize.


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