Keyword Deficiency is a term used to define the content that lack of targeted keywords. It usually happens when keyword density stays under a sufficient percentage.
Search engines are likely not to rank keyword deficient content since it doesn’t clearly communicate about its relevance.
Keyword deficiency can also be described as content with poor keyword density.
For instance, if the content is targeting the keyword “ice fishing”, it should include this term at least a few times.
Content that is written only for the reader while ignoring the search engines tends to be more often keyword deficient. Because what is natural for a human is not the best for the algorithm.
Search engines are getting better every day by implementing AI and machine learning in their algorithms. However, they are still very far to understand what text is the most natural for a human reader.
There is still a certain percent of keyword density set as a minimum for the algorithms to decide if content can be ranked for that keyword.
Obviously “more is better” approach is not the way to go. Many people in the past tried to take advantage of Google’s algorithm by keyword stuffing. Truth to be told, It worked well for some time.
However, Google patched those vulnerabilities a long time ago. Using a certain keyword more than necessary is not only going to create poor ranking results but also trigger the webspam algorithm for your content.
In 2011, Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s webspam team said:
“The 1st or 2nd time you mention a word that might help with your ranking, but just because you can say it 7 or 8 times doesn’t mean it will help you.”
Let’s have a look at the following sentences.
“I love organic red apples. Because organic red apples are rich in Vitamin A.”
“I love organic red apples since they are rich in Vitamin A.”
Although they both have the same meaning, the first sentence intends to do keyword stuffing.
Google knows the first sentence is not natural and no human reader will write like that naturally.
John Mueller said in 2014,
“Keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there.”
Google algorithm updates especially Panda and Hummingbird changed many things in the SEO sphere.
Google confirmed that Rankbrain is the 3rd. most important ranking factor using AI to learn from existing data to improve the ranking accuracy.
Keyword deficiency is the exact opposite of keyword stuffing. It usually occurs due to a lack of preparation or a low understanding of on-page SEO practices.
If you target “organic red apples” as your main keyword, it should be included consistently in your content.
I recommend checking out how to implement the best keyword consistency practices in your content.
It is always a great idea including LSI keywords in our content. Because they help search engines to understand our content easier. LSI keywords improve keyword deficiency problems without increasing the frequency of our keyword in our content.
The other best practice to fix keyword deficiency problems is using long-tail keywords that include the exact match version of our main keyword.
For example, if we target the keyword “chameleon care” we can include long-tail variations of our keyword like “four-horned chameleon care” or “chameleon care tips”.
Focusing on keyword density too much or ignoring it completely by allowing keyword deficiency are both harmful for SEO.
We should better focus on keyword presence. It is making sure that we use our keyword consistently in our content, heading, meta title, and image alt tag.
In a 2017 SEMRush made research checking the effects of having keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, and body content. What they have found that,
“Over 75% of the top-20 pages have keywords in their body and over 60% have them in their title.”
If you still need a numerical value 1-3% is usually good enough value for the keyword density.
Using our keyword less than 1% is likely to create keyword deficiency. You can find different keyword density calculators online. Smallseotools keyword density checker does a good job.
If someone else reading your content and can explain exactly what it is about, you’re probably doing alright.
If you are using WordPress most SEO plugins should be able to show you how many times you used a keyword in your content.
There are more than hundreds of ranking factors Google takes into consideration. All other factors combined together may tell more about the quality of content you produce.
To sum up, search engines today value a good user experience more than anything else. If you create informative content that really helps people you should be fine.