Does Keyword Repetition Really Matter?

It’s a question that keeps cropping up within the digital marketing world, even as SEO becomes more and more refined; “how often should I be using my chosen keyword on my pages?”

To begin to answer this we first need to look at how search engines have developed over the years. They’ve now moved past using metrics such as keyword density (a percentage that demonstrates how often a keyword is found in the content of your page) and instead are heavily focused on page content being valuable to the user’s original query.

But what does that mean? Looking through the Google Webmaster Guidelines, we can see a few very important points. Google themselves suggest that you:

  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  • Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the ALT attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.
  • Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

So, what should you do?

First and foremost, it appears they want sites to include the keywords that your audience chose to type into their search engine. Simple enough, right? As a result, your pages will need to include the keywords that you’re targeting, both in the actual content on the page and in the meta information behind it.

Equally though, Google wants sites to be information rich and to provide a great experience for users that click through. A solid wall of keywords is hardly a great experience for users and so your priority should be on the informative experience, not on density or frequency of keywords. Google published a great video in 2011 featuring Matt Cutts (the former head of their web spam team who is currently on sabbatical) that still holds true today;


As such, the best way to use keywords is simply to have them occur naturally throughout the page. For example, the page title and headings are natural places for the keyword you’re using and after all, your keyword should be very closely related to what your web page is about!

The content

The content itself should include the keyword as often as you think is necessary, without sacrificing the readability of the text. Keep thinking back to your target users, the ones who will be reading through all of this, would they be comfortable reading the content and would they find it engaging? If the answer’s no, you may need to reconsider what you’ve written.

The meta information

Meta information is hugely important from an SEO perspective. The meta title - also known as the page title - is the title that appears in the tab of your browser, as well on search engine results pages. This element has a large impact on search rankings. The meta description is a short description of the content on the page, which appears under the meta title in search results. It has less of an impact of rankings, but it needs to be enticing, something to draw users to click through onto that content.

The meta information needs to have your keyword incorporated, but it’s important not to go overboard. Making sure that your meta title and meta description both appeal to users is important, since they make up the appearance of the site in search engine results pages. If your meta titles and descriptions aren't compelling, users won’t click, and if they don’t click, you simply won’t get the traffic through to your site and you’ll be defeating the whole purpose of improving your meta data in the first place.

And back to the original question

With all that in mind does keyword repetition matter? In short, yes. Why? Because it would be very difficult to rank for a keyword without incorporating it in the content of your page.. It is also impossible to say how many times you should be using a keyword on your page. However, as a guide, you will want to be using it in the meta (page) title, the main on-page heading (H1) , the meta description, in the URL, in the alt tags of images and naturally throughout the text on the page. How do you know if you’re flirting with keyword stuffing? Just reread what you have written, it should flow naturally. A good example of keyword stuffed content can be found below;

Cat toys are an excellent way to keep you cat occupied. All breeds of cat love to play with cat toys. Cat toys are also a good way to ensure that your pet stays active. Check out our range of cat toys today, and get the perfect cat toys for your pet now! We have cat toys available in a range of different sizes and colours, with cat toys for kittens and grown cats all at great prices!

Instead of the above, you should have your keyword and synonyms of that word or phrase simply appear naturally throughout the text. This way, you avoid any chances of being penalised for keyword stuffing, and you’ll have content that appeals to your users. A real win-win situation!

Before you can place your keyword on the page, you’ll need to determine which keywords that you’ll be using! If you need some help with that, or other elements of your on-page SEO, get in touch with us using the button below.

Our content includes affiliate links. This means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links on our website. This will be at no cost to you and helps to fund the content creation work on our website.