One question that we hear quite a bit, especially from people who are fairly new to blogging and keyword research is “how many times should I use my keyword a blog post?”

In fact, this question came up on our recent Q&A webinar. Click here to see the video replay for my comments on the topic. Otherwise, read on and I’ll explain what works best, based on our own experience.

Keyword Use – Quick History Lesson

Back in the day, dropping your keyword in your content a whole bunch of times was actually a good thing as far as your search engine rankings were concerned.

The idea was that if my target keyword was “Best Small SUV” then using the exact phrase “Best Small SUV” a bunch of times in your blog post would illustrate to Google that my post is REALLY focused the best small SUVs.

In the last few years, unnatural overuse of a particular keyword has come to be known as “keyword stuffing” – which could actually hurt your website, according to Google.

Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about the proper keyword usage and how to target them in your content.

The Correct Keyword Use

So, you’ve found the keywords you want to target using a Long Tail Pro or some other keyword research software. What next?

We know that using the keyword too much is bad, but how much is too much?

Some people think about keyword density this way:

What percentage of my article’s words should be my exact keyword? 1%? 3%?

The truth is, nobody knows the best amount for all situations – so it really depends.

Honestly, I’d encourage you to not think about it that way at all – just focus on writing high quality stuff in a natural way.

If it reads awkwardly, don’t do it.

In our experience, you’ll find that when you do solid keyword research, you’ll end up ranking in Google for many different search phrases – most of which you never intended to target (I’ll share an example on this later).

In part, this happens because natural writing lends itself to using a bunch of different varieties of the keyword – rather than saying the same thing over and over again. A good way to find these kind of keyword varieties is to to really delve deep into low volume KWs. Alternatively, you could use something like Ubersuggest.

For my earlier example on “Best Small SUV” you’d probably find a bunch of similar keywords (often called LSI keywords) used throughout my blog post such as:

  • Top Small SUV
  • Best Compact SUV
  • Fuel-efficient SUV
  • Highest Rated Small SUV

Those types of LSI keywords popping up is completely natural, and a good thing.

So what about the primary keyword target, “Best Small SUV?”

I’d suggest focusing on a few common sense SEO techniques and calling it a day…

Solid On-Page SEO

On page SEO is just the process where you make your best effort to ‘optimize’ your blog post or web page for the search engines. If you are targeting a particular keyword, on-page SEO describes all those little things you do to help Google understand that your page is relevant for that keyword.

I love Brian Dean’s infographic showing the perfectly optimized page, shown below. Notice that it talks about using your keyword early in your page title, early on in the content, and in the page URL if possible.

Outside of that, creating thorough content that keeps readers engaged is hugely important if you plan to rank for any somewhat competitive keywords.

Keyword use - On Page SEO Infographic
Source: On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page – Infographic

A Personal Example

I thought it might be helpful to share a personal example from one of my own niche websites.

This site was referenced in Spencer Haws’ list of examples to show that long tail keywords still work in 2015. At the time of this writing, we started adding content about 5 months ago and are now exceeding 1,300 visitors per day – about 85% are organic, search engine visitors.

We’re not setting any records, but I’m really proud of the growth we’ve seen!

Without a doubt, one of the keys has been finding low competition keywords and then creating excellent content that follows the exact on-page SEO principles we shared above.

The Details

The highest traffic post on our site has had 9,700 visitors in the last 30 days.

Initially, the target keyword had 880 searches per month and currently features a keyword competitiveness score of 30, according to Long Tail Platinum.

Ready to start finding keywords? Click Here to take a 7 day free trial of Long Tail Pro.

Notice, that with over 9,700 visitors in the last 30 days, obviously we are getting traffic from more places than the 880 searches for our primary keyword.

This happens because of those similar, LSI keywords I talked about earlier.

According to SEMRush, this page alone ranks in the top 100 for 947 different keywords:

keyword use - keyword rankings

The craziest part?

I only used my keyword 1 time in the blog post.

That’s it.

It’s also in the page title and the page description, but then after that I only used the keyword in the first paragraph.

I think the results speak for themselves!

Don’t get too hung up on how many times you should be using your keyword, how many keywords should I use – there are way more important things to worry about. (Including finding the right keyword in the first place.)

If you want to try for yourself, Click Here to take a 7 day free trial of Long Tail Pro.