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Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Website owners and SEOs have to budget their time wisely. There are a billion different ways you can try to gather traffic, but some are more effective than others. Of course, anyone that preaches that they have a quick way to get visitors is probably pushing questionable or outright terrible practices that won’t actually work, but there are also methods out there that under perform because they have become outdated or just fail to understand the field.

Sujan Patel put together a list of seven of these SEO tasks that waste precious time at Search Engine Journal. Some of these tasks are harmless, but don’t have any actual value. Checking your site traffic every day can be tempting, especially to new site owners. There is a legitimate thrill to seeing people begin to trickle onto your content, and the number of visitors is a helpful metric to keep note of, but checking traffic every day focuses too much on individual visitors and not the overall trends in traffic. Trends in traffic numbers give you much more useful information than seeing every single visitor arriving on your page.

Some of the other tactics Patel points out are downright frowned upon by the SEO community, and the Search Engines are trying to put a stop to them. Buying backlink packages was nothing more than a scheme to get sites to the top of rankings without having any actual value. It was a loophole that many took advantage of, but it has absolutely no real worth, and Google’s algorithm updates have made it very clear that the practice isn’t tolerated anymore.

Monitoring keyword density, unlike the past two, used to actually be fairly useful, but it has absolutely no function in the current SEO climate. Keyword density was never quite as important as some made it seem, but for a period Google’s system did favor sites with a reasonable amount of keywords within the content. That is pretty much completely gone now, and the more advanced search engines favor natural sounding content rather than overstuffed robotic sounding paragraphs.

Patel has even more tasks that are draining your time without giving anything back. It is easy to be tempted by easy paths to high rankings or to fall out of touch with the constantly changing SEO world if you let it happen. The best way to know where to focus your energy is to keep up to date with everything happening in SEO regularly, and to look for practices which offer long-term, sustainable growth for your site.

Keyword density is the number of times your keyword or keyword phrase appears inside content on a web page, compared to the total amount of content.  This is considered by SEOs to be part of the on-page SEO for targeting a specific keyword for a site.

So how important is it, really?  As the search engines progress and develop further, their algorithms change to fit one desired outcome: judging web sites and pages in the same way humans do.  In this way, the highest quality web pages should show up at the top of the search engine results.

Considering this, making sure you have a keyword density of 3-5% is not something that most humans take into account when they visit a page.  I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t do a search for a keyword, land on the page, and then count the number of times that keyword appears, do the math, and then dismiss the page if that percentage is outside the magic range.  I read the page, see if the content is good and high quality, and make my judgements based on that.  And if it’s really good, I might even link to it from one of my own pages.

Too many SEOs worry about fitting keywords X number of times into content, to a degree that often makes the content feel more unnatural.  This only hurts their connection with the human visitors to their site.

As it is now, the search engines will look for keywords in content, but having a specific density percentage is not in the top of their search-quality priority list.  If the page is specifically on a certain topic, the keywords will naturally appear within the content.  Forcing it will generally not help for the search engines, and certainly will not help with your human visitors.

My recommendation is to simply write the content to stay on topic and don’t worry about embedding keywords.  If you keep your keywords in the proper core SEO locations, the search engines will know very well what your page is about without having to do any sort of deep content keyword analyzation.