Google: Stop Repeating The Same Keyword Over & Over Again

Apr 30, 2013 • 8:32 am | comments (39) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

twinsA Google Webmaster Help thread has one webmaster asking why Google isn't ranking his seven year old web site.

Google's John Mueller said that he is over doing it with the web site.

John explained that he is repeating the same keyword over and over again, to the point where it is making it hard for Google to "recognize what's really unique & compelling" on that specific site.

John said:

One of the difficulties our algorithms have with your pages is that they appear to be using the same keywords over and over again -- making it hard to recognize what's really unique & compelling on your site. For instance, looking at the cached version of your homepage: - I see over 1000 mentions of "towbar." The same is the case on URLs like (where even the URL includes 3 mentions of towbars). Our algorithms are pretty good at recognizing important content on your pages, you don't have to repeat them unnecessarily.

I know a lot of SEOs are obsessed with keyword density, even to this day. Maybe a post like this from Google will help relax some SEOs? Or maybe it will back fire and cause havoc where SEOs start making sure they don't mention the keyword they want to rank for at all on the page. ;-) Just kidding.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for twins

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Faizaan Khan

04/30/2013 12:47 pm

Sever Year Old = Seven Year Old* :)

Faizaan Khan

04/30/2013 12:48 pm

Anything overly done in SEO is not going to get you ranked higher especially when KW's are repeated extensively.

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2013 12:48 pm


Faizaan Khan

04/30/2013 12:49 pm

Pleasure Barry. I am a big fan of yours

Andy Williams

04/30/2013 12:49 pm

Are there really still SEO's out there who are obsessed with Keyword density? Surly the use of a keyword within a site is common sense these days? Write your content naturally and the keyword will fit in naturally. If it doesn't fit, don't crowbar it in. But this is old news isn't it???

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2013 12:50 pm

All SEO is old news.


04/30/2013 12:57 pm

Don't you mean, "...don't towbar it in"?

Nick Ker

04/30/2013 01:13 pm

Maybe not so many SEOs, but certainly a lot of webmasters who read some bad advice a few years ago and held on to the notion that they have to use keywords a certain magical number of times.


04/30/2013 01:23 pm

Everything in moderation. Think of SEO as speeding on the interstate. This was just poor, outdated practice. Glad to hear a bit of the logic behind Google though. Nice share, B.

John Carcutt

04/30/2013 02:04 pm

Keyword Density is an SEO Myth and pretty much always has been. :)


04/30/2013 02:09 pm

Is John Mueller up in the night? And Barry, did you not check the cached version of the homepage yourself to verify whether there actually are 1000 mentions of the word "towbar"? There are 20 instances of towbar/s. Now if 20 mentions of the keyword is too much for the page, that's up for debate, but 1000 is nowhere near accurate - there aren't even 1000 total words on the homepage!

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2013 03:14 pm

I don't care if he was right. I am just communicating his message.


04/30/2013 03:15 pm

Don't assume that this is the reason he is not ranking. John Moo is jut guessing


04/30/2013 03:22 pm

Unfortunately, this still comes up in conversation. Doesn't seoMoz have a Keyword density-type-metric (I don't know, I don't use it but I see it has something similar)

Jill Whalen

04/30/2013 03:22 pm

It's definitely one of the main reasons why many old sites were hit by Panda/Penguin. I've reviewed a ton of sites with that problem. Cleaning it up does help lots!


04/30/2013 03:31 pm

There are a lot more instances in the links below the content. I got 1023 to be exact..... (whether in the body, as anchor text..)

Nathan Grimm

04/30/2013 03:54 pm

When you view source and search the page for "towbar" it comes up 3350 times. "honda" appears 144 times.


04/30/2013 04:03 pm

Barry, I myself was wrong - there are more instances as was pointed out. But, I also do think you should care whether a story is right or not. That's part of having integrity, isn't it? Why would you want to perpetuate something that isn't accurate? In this case John was right, and I was wrong. But food for thought - it's probably best for your readers to check stuff for accuracy before you report it, wouldn't you think?

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2013 04:05 pm

It's not about the example but the message google is relaying.


04/30/2013 04:14 pm

That is a good point you have, Barry.


04/30/2013 05:44 pm

Not... /always/....


04/30/2013 06:11 pm

Bruce Clay's online tool set provides this. It's worthwhile to compare your mentions of a sought-after phrase to your competitors. I've closely monitored small tweaks of more, and fewer, mentions in relation to those of our competitors and can absolutely say there is some relationship between density relative to your competition.


04/30/2013 06:14 pm

No doubt having it in the page title, and in the content is important but in 900 links on the same page has got to create some weird indexing issues for Google

Jim Christian

04/30/2013 06:26 pm

I know when I talk about Towbars I don't over mention Towbars. Honda's do have a lot of Towbar options, but their Towbars are important to international Towbar customers. So when you need Honda Towbars and you don't know where you can get these Towbars all you need to do is look up www.seroundtable/towbars/barrys-towbars.html

Nathan Grimm

05/01/2013 12:25 am

If too much keyword density can hurt your site then it's worth measure every once and a while.


05/01/2013 02:12 am

Yeah and that is why doesn't rank for the word meme? (sarcasm, because they do). They only repeat the word meme about 3.7 million times (not an exaggeration)


05/01/2013 02:16 am

FFS disqus sucks. It deletes my comment and then puts it back up as guest?

Alan Smith

05/01/2013 09:29 am

Previously google said that “be careful about all black hat SEO” , so how old your website it does not matter, if you will go against the guidelines you will be no more on search :)


05/01/2013 10:30 am

I would buy John's explanation if I wasn't seeing Google search contaminated with scrapers repeating same keyword 100 times and outranking original sites that have normal keyword density. So, the explanation is worth for probably 50% of sites. The other half can go away with it and rank very well without penalties.


05/01/2013 12:27 pm

50% of sites? I doubt that. Out of curiosity: what are the queries you are running through Google that turn up horrible results? I have no doubt that there are some really crappy 1st page SERPs out there, but I also believe that the vast majority of these crap results are for crap/scam types of niches: online gambling; anything to do with the male sexual drive and organ; payday loans; etc... And no, I am not saying that every business operating in those niches is crap/a scam, but a very large number of apples have spoiled the bunch. It would be interesting to see if you are seeing crap results in crap niches or crap results elsewhere.


05/01/2013 03:42 pm

Why would payday loans be crappy business? Or pharmacy? These are legit businesses. They got "crappy" attribute just because Google lost battle against spammers and now when you search in these niches, you get crappy results. Just because results are crappy doesn't mean business is crappy. Scams ruling the search is not problem of the niche but Google. Selling firearms might be considered crappy business but it's not because results are pretty much clean. "Crappy" is very broad term and unfortunately these days everything is considered crappy where spammers beat Google big time. Sorry but that's Google's fault, not for example online pharmacies.


05/01/2013 04:07 pm

Alright, so you ignored the second part of my reply ("I am not saying that every business operating in those niches is crap/a scam, but a very large number of apples have spoiled the bunch") and failed to list any of the queries that are serving you crap results. I am forced to, at this time, assume that you are trying to rank for one of the niches I have offended. And yes, online pharmecy, payday loans, online gambling, online dating, etc...are niches that are historically filled to the brim with crap/scams. They are this way because, for whatever reason, these are the SERPs that generate the most traffic/income for the scammers and spammers. If it is something that fills your inbox with spam and the SERPs for it are spam then the niche is spam. With the spam comes scams and crap. Please, for the sake of this conversation, what are the queries that are serving up crap results for you? You say John Mu's explination is only good for ~50% of seem to be saying that 50% of sites are forced to compete with scrapers filling the first page of SERPs. Tell us those queries so we can all have a look.


05/01/2013 05:21 pm

here is an example keyword: "vector background". Scrapers took over this very competitive term in graphic design niche. One of them (all-free-download), check out home page and scroll down. How many links are there? 100, 200, with same repeating keyword. This is just one example. There are 1000s of very competitive keywords taken by these scrapers although there are a lot of great clean sites on the Web.

Simon Black

05/01/2013 07:56 pm

Quite agree with you, DP - there IS a relationship between density relative to your competition. I use Website Auditor for this - it has a separate module exactly for tweaking these issues. And for smaller sites simply tweaking density works excellent.


05/02/2013 06:05 am

but if the site is related with these keywords and the keyword is famous with its search. Then it will be injustice for that site.

Gracy Gulas

05/02/2013 10:08 am

I do agreed with Jennifer ... what would be the keyword density should have a site owner in such case?


05/05/2013 02:29 am

Is that true that the optimum keyword density is 1 to 3% only? And if more that it is considered search spam?


07/10/2013 06:47 pm

Uh, they have regularly published fresh content, and the term itself is associated with a number of long tails, there is also the thousands of backlinks, social platform mentions, occasional pick ups of quick memes on popular publications... all of which happens organically. Not a good example at all. That is like slamming a wiki for including wiki 3.7 million times.

Andrew Buckle

10/09/2013 03:23 pm

Pages on fairly popular sites with only the briefest mention of keywords seem to rank highly. Quite often with my google search, I notice pages at the top of the listing with a single word relating to the search - the page has absolutely nothing else about the subject - in many cases it might be a totally unrelated subject. Many pages that should be listed higher are tucked away on page 68 or so and actually feature quite heavily on the subject searched for, I suspect for whatever reason, they will still remain on page 68 - however many times they add new and useful content.

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