Many times when I start working with a client, the first thing the client brings up is keywords. Some of them will say “I know all about keywords, my friend told me. I went on keyword tool yada, yada, yada”. Obviously, keyword research and keyword SEO is not that simple. If it were, I’d still be working for the Post Office. When it comes to SEO and how keywords affect SEO, there are things you have to consider. Let’s look at a few.

What is the goal? This is important because the goals for SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) are different. In SEO, you’re looking for the keyword, yes singular, one word, that best describes the content of the page. The keyword can be a string of words but should be concise and descriptive. Ask yourself “What words do my possible prospects use to search for the product or service this page describes? What word or string of words do they use when they’re searching for someone who does what I do?

For PPC, your goal is different. You are looking for keywords that you can bid on. The key is to find words that are profitable. You want words that represent a product or service that you can profit from and has the potential to earn you significant money at the lowest possible cost. This is where keyword competition is important. You must decide which words will work best for you in a cost-per-click environment. There are exceptions, but usually you should focus on keywords that you can’t easily get ranked for in organic SEO.

Staying with PPC for a minute, once you have your keyword you need to place it your ad groups, your campaigns, ad copy, and your landing page. To keep a high quality score you have to keep the correlation between each aspect of your campaign very tight. And that’s about all there is to say about PPC for now.

In SEO, another question that comes up is keyword density. We’ve written before about keyword placement; meta tags, H1 tags, H2 tags, alt tags, paragraph position and so on. But how often should your keyword appear on a page? Unfortunately, just as in SEO, there is no clear cut answer. According to Google, there is no set percentage that will maximize your results or punish you for going too far. Essentially, Google’s rule is “Don’t annoy the reader”. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team “The way that modern search engines, or at least Google, are built 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 are diminishing returns. It’s just an incremental benefit, but it’s really not that large.” Cutt’s point was that the text flow on your webpage should be natural and not artificially stuffed with keywords..

So we really don’t have a specific per cent number from Google, but according to Sean Si of Seo-hacker, different search engines have different standards. Using analysis from, he determined that Google’s density tolerance was 1-2%. Yahoo’s was 3%. My feeling is that if you’re in the 1.5% to 2.5% range you’re probably fine. Avoid keyword stuffing, sticking your keyword anywhere or writing text in bad English or in a nonsensical way simply to cram the keyword into the text. That strategy will backfire.