How Many Keywords Should Be in an Article?

Keyword articles are considered a common part of SEO strategy. The idea is that by using a keyword over and over, search engines will recognize that your article is about that keyword and rank you accordingly.

In the past, the idea has been to aim for a keyword density of 2 to 5%. “Density,” in this case, refers to the amount of an article that is taken by the keyword. Most confusion comes from the idea that a keyword of any length is still only one “word.” Only a few months ago, I had a client request that I use a 5 word keyword 10 times in an article, because he was aiming for a density of 2%.

Yet because it was a 5 word keyword, using it 10 times caused a density of 10%, because every word within a given keyword (or key-phrase, if that helps better explain the disconnect) counts as its own individual word.

The best way to explain this is with some math. On the top of the table we see the density, on the left we see the amount of words in any given keyword. The table shows the number of times each keyword would then be used in a 500 word article (each one is rounded up).

1% Density 2% Density 3% Density 4% Density 5% Density
1 Word Keyword 5 10 15 20 25
2 Word Keyword 3 5 8 10 13
3 Word Keyword 2 4 5 7 9
4 Word Keyword 2 3 4 6 7
5 Word Keyword 1 2 3 4 5


The math isn’t perfect, which is why generally in the past you round up – better to do a bit more than a bit less. This table changes depending on the length of your article, but the key here is to make sure that you’re taking into account the differences in keyword length. If you’re unclear what keyword length refers to, think of it like so:

  • Content
  • Content Writing
  • Brooklyn Content Writing
  • Content Writing in Brooklyn
  • Great Content Writing in Brooklyn

Each of these would be considered a keyword that one would target in a keyword article, and each one – because of the different word lengths – would need to be used more or less often depending on the length of the keyword.

Are Keywords Necessary Anymore?

Here, though, we get to a very important question – how necessary are keyword articles anymore?

The goal of a search engine is to provide information that is relevant based on a keyword search. Gaming these search engines by overusing keywords goes against the purpose of a search engine. They need their algorithms to come up with the best possible content for the search, and a keyword targeted article is unlikely to provide that value.

We’re seeing that now with the recent Google updates. With each update, quality content has started to show up higher than keyword content, because algorithms have been updated to account for quality and informative writing.

So now, I would argue that you need a keyword maybe one or two times at most, and then let your article flow naturally around that keyword. Sometimes the keyword will show up naturally more than twice, and that’s okay, but keyword targeting is starting to be less valuable. In the next few years, keywords are unlikely to matter at all.



  • Micah Abraham

    Micah Abraham is the owner and lead content writer at Great Leap Studios ( and High Volt Digital (
    Micah has over 15 years of content writing and digital marketing experience, and has owned and operated Great Leap Studios since 2013 and High Volt since 2022.
    He has a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington, and has researched and written content on a wide range of topics in the medical and health fields, home services, tech, and beyond.
    Micah lives with his family in California.

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