Keyphrase distribution: What it is and how to balance it

Ever heard of keyphrase distribution? SEO analysis plugins provides feedback on your keyphrase distribution. But what does this entail? Why does it matter? And how can you balance your keyphrase distribution? That’s what you’ll find out in this post!

What is keyphrase distribution?

You write an article thinking of an idea that you want to put into words. Based on that subject, you decide on the focus keyphrase you want the post to rank for. For Google to understand that, you need to use the keyphrase throughout the text. Keyphrase distribution is about that: have you used your keyphrase (and/or synonyms and related keyphrases) throughout the whole text, in a balanced way?

Why is keyphrase distribution important?

We believe in holistic SEO. We believe that your website as a whole should be awesome, and optimized for search engines and users. This also goes for keyphrase distribution.

If the focus keyword for this text were “dog”, a few things can be deducted from this overview. Most importantly: the focus keyword is only being mentioned in the first paragraph, and quite often too, and only once in a later paragraph. Using your focus keyphrase enough is definitely important. But just mentioning it an X amount of times isn’t going to cut it. You need a good balance throughout your text. Why does that matter to search engines and users? We’ll explain.

Keyphrase distribution and search engines

First off: search engines. Why do they mind how you distribute your focus keyword throughout a text? Well, if you want Google to know what you want a page to rank for, you need to make it clear. If your focus keyphrase is well-represented in a part of the page but nearly non-existent in the rest, that confuses Google. If a page is aiming to rank for a specific term, you would expect the term to be mentioned throughout the whole text. The same goes for search engines. If you’re not using your keyphrase throughout the text, they won’t know if the text actually covers the subject. Google wants to serve its users the best possible result or answer. If it’s unclear whether your content lives up to that, it will not rank as high as it would otherwise.

Keyphrase distribution and users

User experience is also an important aspect of SEO. If your users don’t enjoy the look, feel, and content of your website, that’s not good for your ranking. Google takes user signals like bounce rate and click-through rate seriously. Part of a good user experience is offering clear, readable texts to your users. Using your focus keyphrase too many times within a relatively short piece of text makes that text hard to read. It could be repetitive, which can be annoying for your users. It also makes it harder to find your answer to their question. That doesn’t serve you, your user, or Google well.

The keyphrase distribution check

If you stay on topic throughout your text and use synonyms now and then, you’ll get a green bullet. If, for instance, you use the words from your focus keyphrase or its synonyms a lot in the beginning, but you don’t mention them at the end, you’ll get an orange or red bullet. Clicking on the highlight button will reveal which parts of the text already contain your keyphrase. That way, you’ll see which parts of your text need improvement.

Synonyms can help

And here’s a great tip: make use of synonyms. It’s probably easier anyway, to write a text without repeating the same term all the time. Also, using different versions of your keyphrase makes your content easier to read for people. You don’t have to worry about Google, as it understands context and synonyms better and better. Let’s go back to the example we just discussed, in which the focus keyword “dog” was used a lot, all in the first paragraph of the text.

The score for keyphrase distribution is better in this version, worthy of a green bullet even. The word “dog” has been used less and spread more over the rest of the text. Also, synonyms of the word “dog” have been used to increase readability.


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