If you’re in a semi-competitive battle for rankings, you might want to re-think your use of keywords on the page. For the specific term/phrase you’re going after, here’s what I generally recommend:
- Used at least once in the title tag, possibly twice (or part of a phrase twice) when appropriate and not spammy looking
- At least once or twice in the meta description tag – not for rankings, but for CTR
- In the H1 tag of the page at the very top – as the true headline of the piece (this is good for users and search engines)
- In at least one other headline, possibly in a modified form
- 1-2X in bold on the page
- 4-6X in the body text at minimum, but only as it makes sense and flows gracefully in the sentence structure. You really can’t go “overboard” with too many keyword uses as long as the writing doesn’t start to sound like you’re stuffing the keywords. It’s a tough call, but as with many subjective things, you’ll know it when you see it.
- In the alt tag of at least one image – this lets you pull in image search traffic, but it’s also another way of saying the page has multiple types of content about the subject
- NOT in external link anchor text
- NOT in internal link anchor text (unless it’s pointing to a more specific kw phrase that includes the target term, like “loans” in anchor text for “auto loans”)
If you abide by these, you’re generally hitting 80-90% of your on-page optimization. Some folks like to experiment and see how far they can take keyword usage, but I’ve always been of the mind that if you do the above, adding a few more instances will have 1/100th the effect of going and grabbing even one more valuable link.
p.s. Folks have been confused about what I mean when I say “don’t use the term in external anchor text.” What I mean is – DO NOT use it on your page, linking out to other sites. You should, absolutely, have others link to you with that term/phrase.