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How Many Keywords Should I Use for SEO?

Written by Rosie Wait on .
laptop and touchscreen displaying website traffic analytics

How many keywords should you use for SEO? This sounds like a straightforward question but the answer to this is anything but simple.

Keywords guide you as you write your content and lead your target audience to your landing page and they can certainly impact your website's ranking and visibility. However, the quantity of keywords to use and the approach to how they are integrated is an ever-evolving topic in the SEO community.

In this article, we will explore the use of keywords and how many you should be using, as well as looking at other factors to consider in order to produce an excellent, high-ranking piece of content.

What are keywords?

Keywords are specific words or phrases that encompass the main topics or themes within a piece of content. They also reflect the search terms that the users type into the search engines to find the service, product or information they are looking for. This is important because keywords are the link between the initial search and finding what they need.

woman typing in a laptop

Why is keyword research important?

Research will help you find the best keywords to target the right people. For example, if you owned a hair salon in Oxford, you would want to target people looking for exactly that. However, if you optimised for the keyword “salon in oxford”, you may find that you end up targeting people looking for a beauty or tanning salon. It is crucial to keep your keywords specific in order to target the right audience.

This research will tell you what topics people are talking about and how popular they are amongst your audience. They’ll also reaffirm or inform what your target users are actually searching for vs what you think they’ll be searching for.

When you are doing your research it is important to remember to put yourself into the mind of the user. What are they searching for? What are they hoping to discover? No matter how important or valuable what you want to say is, it is only worth creating the content if people are going to search for it and read it.

There are three main elements of keyword research. These are:


When Google ranks content it is looking for relevance. To rank highly you must not only be providing relevant content, it must be of higher value than the other content available. In essence, it is just one gigantic competition!


Good content is about so much more than keywords. Google needs to be confident that your content is authoritative. You can achieve this by filling your content with high-quality writing, useful information, backlinks and useful statistics.


It is important to consider the MSV (monthly search volume) when carrying out your keyword research. This is the average number of times a keyword is searched for each month. It is important to use keywords that have a high MSV as if you use a keyword that is never searched for, you may rank number one but no one will ever see it because nobody is looking for it. It is also important to make sure that you are not using keywords that are already being targeted by the whole industry as those will be highly competitive. So it’s about finding the middle ground of relevant keywords that will enable you to rank without being lost in the competition.

How many keywords are too many?

Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, unnecessarily cramming content with target keywords was common practice to rank highly on search engines. This was known as “keyword stuffing” and meant that low-quality, irrelevant content could rank in the top positions purely because the algorithms at the time crawled the page and ascertained that it was highly relevant to the search because the keywords were mentioned so often!

As things progressed and search engines became smarter, some SEO tactics became more focused about what ratio of content should contain relevant keywords. Subsequently, once everyone was creating content around those ratio's search engines had to find another way to determine quality. As a result, content length became a factor and so the battle continued with one common thread - content creation was becoming less about the user, and more about ticking a metric box to keep search engines happy.

Thankfully, over the years as search engines have evolved to such an extent that they can now identify high-quality, valuable content which meets the searches needs and intent regardless of how many words or keywords the content contains. As a result, there really is nothing to gain from using your keywords more than what comes naturally within the flow of your writing.

Top-down image of an SEO team during a  strategy session.

So what is the ideal amount of keywords to use per page?

To this question, there really is no answer. We must look at the evolution of search engines and how they can now recognise the quality of a piece of content and not just whether the keywords have been scattered in, in order to trick the algorithms into giving the content a high rank. Good quality content should include E-EAT; Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.


It is always important to make sure that your content demonstrates your experience within the field you are operating in. This shows both Google and your potential customers that your content can be trusted, is of high value and will provide an ideal answer or solution.


Aim to give examples within your content that show off your expertise. This may include evidence of your qualifications and credentials or sharing your knowledge, a product or service.


When you create content, consider how you can prove your authority. Using reliable sources to back up content. Using quotes and statistics are great ways of doing this.


You must be seen as trustworthy. Be clear and honest, and ensure that you build trust by sharing testimonials and reviews from customers, provide contact information and be sure to reference the sources you use in your writing.

In summary, it is not about how many keywords are used, but more about focusing on the quality of the content whilst making sure that your keywords are used naturally.

Analysing keywords based on intent

It is vital to think about the intent of your target audience. Think about what you are writing about, what is in it for the user and why they should stick around.

There are four different types of intent. These include:


Users want to find out information about something. For example “who is the longest reigning monarch?”


This is where the user wants to go to a specific page or site. For example “halfords”


This is considered pre-transactional. The user is almost at the point of being ready to commit to a service or buy a product but needs a little more help before they do. An example of this would be “gel or acrylic nails?”


The user is ready to commit to the transaction and may search for something like “book gel nails, oxford”

Do you need help with your SEO?

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