How Many Keywords for SEO Should You Track?

Written by: Elena Daskalova
Mar / 27 / 2024

You’ve been working on SEO for a while, and now you still have questions regarding the number of tracked keywords. Don’t worry, everyone who cares about SEO has been there. Indeed, it’s one of the most common concerns that our clients may have. 

The process of keyword research is extensive and uncovers plenty of keywords relevant to your business, but it doesn’t mean you should track thousands of them. 

So, how many keywords do you need for SEO to ensure it works? 

Let’s find the answers!

The general rule is that each page on your website, including the blog posts and articles, targets one unique focus keyword and a few secondary keywords that cover the topic well.

But how much is “a few?”

How Many SEO Keywords to Use Per Page?

While there is not a unified answer to this, we can estimate an average for various types of websites and their pages. 

It’s more important to track keywords that are relevant to your business and that you have a realistic chance of ranking for. You can also expect to rank for many additional keywords besides the ones you directly target.

Still, consider these things:

  • Focus on a manageable number of keywords per page – Aim for 1-4 keywords with close variations, targeting a single topic for each page. This allows you to optimize content effectively. While you may rank for additional keywords, it doesn’t mean you need to track hundreds per page.
  • Track keywords for all your important landing pages –  Multiply the number of landing pages by the average keywords per page (2-3) for a rough estimate. This includes your homepage, service pages, and blog posts. That’s how you get the full number of tracked keywords per site.
  • Consider long-tail keywords – These are more specific and often have lower competition but can still be valuable. Long-tail keywords target smaller but relevant audiences, making each website visitor count. 
  • Track more keywords for larger websites – Bigger sites with more content can track a higher number of keywords but prioritize the most relevant ones. Decide what are the top-performing pages, estimate how relevant they are for your business, and focus on them before extending the SEO strategy to the rest of the website.

Is One Primary Keyword Per Page Enough?

In general, SEO practices require using one primary keyword per page, as well as a few secondary keywords that match the topic. Practically, the secondary keywords give a contextual and topical coverage that supports the primary, also known as the focus keyword. 

While you can potentially target only one focus (primary) keyword, search engines are able to match it with the semantically same phrases. 

For example, you’re targeting “project management tool” as a focus keyword. Also, Google and other search engines understand that there are synonyms with the same search intent behind them, like “project management software” or “tools to manage a project.” 

While in the past you needed to optimize for the exact match keyword, now you’re able to focus on a specific phrase and its variations, and still optimize for your primary keyword with no risks for keyword stuffing. 

Think about it this way: The focus (primary) keyword is the main topic, while the secondary keywords are the subtopics you need to cover on your page or article.

How Many Secondary Keywords to Track per Page?

The general recommendation is to track as many secondary keywords as you cover subtopics. Let’s use the same example with “project management tool.”

What else belongs under that activity?

Think about the tool or products and determine the main features. Each feature can be a secondary keyword, like:

task management software

time tracking tool

communication features

project management file sharing

project forum discussions

team collaboration tool

real-time reporting

All these keywords, i.e., subtopics, explain and extend the coverage for the main keyword – the topic. 

Does the Number of Keywords Depend on The Page Type?

The short answer is yes, and it depends on the page type. 

For example, the product page or feature page is usually short, concise, and direct, and you don’t have many opportunities to target plenty of keywords. So, stick to the focus keyword and enrich the copy with two to three more keywords that enhance the topical coverage. 

On the other hand, when you write blog posts and articles, you can be more creative. Surely, you’ll have one focus (primary) keyword, but also an option to extend the topical coverage with up to ten more keywords. 

Note: These are just orientational recommendations, and surely targeting depends on more factors we’ll cover in the next section.

A Practical Guide on Targeting Keyword Per Page

As you know, keyword density is an outdated practice, and we’re more focused on quality and creating useful articles lately. So, trying to figure out the perfect keyword density for each page can be a tricky task. 

Instead, focus on the primary phrase – yes, you’re allowed to adjust it, as long as it meets the search intent and stays useful for the reader. 

Here is a little guide on how to figure out what to do when dealing with keyword tracking for SEO:

  • Product Page – Product pages are usually up to 500 words long. Besides the focus keyword, you only have 2-3 additional keywords to implement, to avoid keyword stuffing and overoptimization.
  • Service Page – It’s usually between 500 and 600 words, so ensure you follow the same practice as for product pages. Avoid keyword stuffing and overoptimization, and focus on the service you offer. 
  • Guides and Tutorials – They’re usually about 1000 words long, so you have enough space to incorporate 5 to 6 secondary keywords together with the focus keyword. The easiest way to optimize is to match them with the subheadings. 
  • Long-Form Blog Posts – If you write at least 2000 words per blog post, you will have to split the content into digestible chunks, i.e., subheadings. A blog post that long can easily fit up to 10 secondary keywords. The longer the blog post is, the more keywords you can incorporate into it.

Again, these general instructions aren’t rules, and the number of keywords you track depends on more factors than word count and page type.

How to Estimate the Minimum Number of Tracked Keywords?

First, you need to know how many pages the website has. Let’s say you have a website with 50 pages. 

In the early stages, determine what pages are indeed important for the business. For the example we took, let’s say there are 42 pages that need to be optimized to rank better. That means you already have 42 focus keywords to rank and track. 

But you’re not done here. Each of these pages will have at least one more relevant keyword to track, so that makes them at least 84 keywords. 

As the project progresses, you’ll spot many other relevant queries through Google Search Console, so the number may double in three months. While more than 160 keywords per client to track is possible, you need to ease things this way:

  • Set priorities for the initial phase of the SEO strategy (e.g., top 10 most relevant keywords for the website)
  • Set priority pages to rank faster than the others
  • Spot the quality blog posts with the most potential to bring traffic to the website
  • Scale the strategy as you accomplish the goals

So, the answer to the question of how many keywords to track is not simple and straightforward. It depends on many factors like competitiveness, popularity, website size, number of pages, and surely the website owner’s specific requirements and goals. 

Remember: Each SEO project you work on is unique and requires a unique approach in keyword research and optimization. You can’t use a SEO formula in 2024, when quality and helpfulness are top-priority for search engines. Use the keywords to optimize the content and track the progress, but ensure you mention them naturally and well-fitting in the context.

Final Thoughts

While estimating the exact number of keywords to track for SEO is not really possible, you can use the strategic approach of determining the top-priority pages from a website and the primary/focus keywords they target. 

Remember, you’ll work on 10-page websites, but also on 200-page websites, so the number of SEO keywords depends on many factors, with the site size, important pages, content types, and industry competitiveness being just a few of them.

About the Author

Picture of Elena Daskalova

Elena Daskalova

Experienced content writer with a focus on SaaS content marketing and copywriting. With a passion for crafting compelling stories, paired with expertise, delivers narratives that drive customer engagement and growth.