The Role of Keyword Proximity And Density in Search Engine Optimization

keyword proximity and keyword density are parts of SEO

One of the most important factors in SEO is keywords. However, it’s also one of the most misused aspects. Many site owners often repeat the keywords as many times as possible to catch the eyes of the search engines. This often leads to penalties as they use the keywords in a way considered to be spamming. 

For the best results, site owners need to understand keyword proximity and keyword density. These two terms affect how keywords are used. This article will help you understand both terms and how to use them for the best SEO results.

Keyword Proximity

Keyword proximity refers to how close the target words of a keyword are to one another in a phrase. While longtail keywords are more effective to target, how close the target words are to one another in a phrase affects SEO. Keyword proximity can be categorized into:

High Proximity

This refers to a keyword where the words in a phrase follow one another in their exact order or are separated by one word. A keyword with as high proximity is considered to be highly relevant for SEO

For instance, if we assume that your target  keyword is “best orthopedic shoes,” a high proximity keyword can be something like:

  • We sell the best orthopedic shoes online. The exact target phrase follows one another.
  • We offer the best orthopedic shoes under $100. Again, the target keyword follows one another in the phrase.

Low Proximity

When more than two words separate the target words in a  keyword phrase, this is known as low proximity. A keyword with low proximity isn’t very effective for SEO.

Going by our earlier example of the “best orthopedic shoes,” examples of keywords with low proximity are:

  • We have the best type of orthopedic shoes. The target phrase is separated by two words: “type of.”

How Keyword Proximity Affects SEO

Keyword proximity affects SEO as it sends a signal of the relevance of a keyword. If a keyword has a high proximity, it is considered more relevant. However, you should also be careful with keyword stuffing when optimizing your copy for the search engines

While there is no rule on the proper use of keyword proximity, a good rule of thumb is to mix high proximity with low proximity keywords.

Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword is repeated on a  page in relation to the total word count. For instance, if you repeat a keyword 5 times in a 500-word copy, you will have a higher keyword density than someone who repeats a keyword 10 times in a 2000-word copy.

keyword density is the number of times a keyword is repeated

What is a Good Keyword Density for SEO?

The rule of thumb for SEO is to include a keyword one or two times for every 100 words. This translates to a keyword density of 1 to 2%. A high keyword density isn’t good as the keyword may feel forced in the copy, and search engines may consider it overstuffed. This may affect the flow of the article and, in essence, user experience.

On the other hand, a low keyword density may also not be good because the article may be considered irrelevant to the keyword. Therefore, it may end up affecting indexing and ranking. 

 However, you should bear in mind that this is not cast in stones. Search engines nowadays focus on user experience, so the goal should be to have your articles flowing naturally. The keyword shouldn’t sound forced in the copy.

Does Keyword Density Affect SEO?

While it’s not a direct ranking factor, keyword density can affect SEO as it helps search engines understand what a keyword is about and rank it accordingly. If you want to rank highly on the search engines, you should prioritize the usage of a keyword on your page without overdoing it.

Tips on Keyword Density

For the optimal keyword density, follow these tips:

Consider User-experience First

For the best keyword-density results, you should focus on writing for your audience first. A common mistake that website owners make is to write while focusing on ranking their articles. This often makes them overstuff keywords in their articles.

When you focus on writing for your audience, you can write in a conversation-like way. You will use keywords naturally and only where they fit. When you provide a positive experience for your audience, search engines will know and will reward you for it.

Use Keywords at the Right Places

When focusing on keyword density, you should put your keyword in certain areas for better search engine rankings. Some of the areas where you should include keywords are:

  • H1 tag
  • H2 tags
  • URL
  • The first paragraph of your article
  • The last paragraph of your article
  • Title tag
  • Meta description

By including the keywords in these areas, Google can understand what your article is about and rank it accordingly.

Use Keyword Variations

To reach the most optimal keyword density and also rank on search engines, we advise you to use secondary keywords and other related phrases. This is a great keyword usage hack, as it will help create topical relevance while enabling you to hit your target keyword density.

Keep Testing Your Keyword Density

To ensure the best results on keyword density, we recommend you keep testing your pages.  You can begin by checking how a keyword is currently ranking to see if the current keyword density helps it rank well.  If necessary, you can change the page to see if it will rank better when the keyword density is increased or reduced.

You can use Google Analytics to check the performance of a keyword before and after changing the keyword density. Google Search Console will also show your performance on the SERPs.

Check if your keyword density is working

Final Thoughts

Keyword proximity and keyword density are two important components of SEO. You must follow the best practices on them if you will optimize your articles for the search engines.

Fortunately, we have guided on these two metrics for keyword placement. For the best results, ensure that you are following our guide in using keyword proximity and keyword density optimally. With time, your ranking on the search engines will start to soar.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.