Google distinguished engineer Matt Cutts recently said that there is no golden rule in terms of proper keyword density in content, but he believes content should read naturally to boost search standing.

In a recent Webmaster Help video, Google’s distinguished engineer Matt Cutts reported that content marketing campaigns centered around the use of keywords should focus on using them naturally in their copy. Excessive keyword use often results in low-quality content that is a red flag to search algorithms.

Cutts said that keywords appeal to search crawlers and quality content should include keywords and pertinent subject matter. However, excessive keyword use can read like spam, which will negatively impact search ranking.

As content marketing plans have evolved and become more popular, search has acted similarly in differentiating between the good and the bad. Content writers looking to develop strong, original content should rely on keywords, but excessive use of these words or phrases will negatively impact search standing.

“You can really kind of tell of whenever you land on a page if you’re an experienced SEO, if someone is trying to get the same phrase on a page as many times as possible because it just looks fake,” Cutts said in the video. “And that’s the area within that niche where … let’s make that hurt (search ranking) a little bit.”

When developing content, focusing on keyword density often ends up having the inverse effect on SERP standing. High-quality content contains keywords, but uses them naturally to provide a good experience for readers and prospects.

In an earlier video, Cutts discussed trust as a primary, but mostly intangible ranking factor. Brafton reported that Cutts and Google’s search team have been aggressive in tailoring their algorithms to deliver results of a high quality. Building trust with an audience with high-quality content boosts certain metrics that act as signals to search crawlers. Excessive keyword use is one of the many signals that a site may be of a low quality. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.