If you are browsing around looking for expert SEO (search engine optimisation) tips, you may encounter the advice “avoid keyword stuffing”. This can seem confusing. Aren’t keywords the basis of all online advertising campaigns? In some ways, yes, it is. But things have changed. Years back, getting your website ranked in a search engine result was all about the keywords. Now you might wonder, do search engines use keywords anymore? The simple answer is yes, but keyword use has to be strategic and must flow naturally.
Why keyword stuffing is bad for SEO: Keyword stuffing adds no value to the user experience. Google only connects people with valuable content that fully satisfies search intentions. Content must be helpful & informative. New algorithms detect when content is written for a human audience & when it is keyword stuffed. Keyword stuffing can lead to penalties & removal of content from search results.
While keyword stuffing worked for some website owners in the past, leading search engines, such as Google, have changed the way they rank content in current times. Now, keyword stuffing is a big content marketing no-no. Read on to learn what keyword stuffing is, why it is rejected by search engines, what the importance of keyword density is, and what you can do instead of keyword stuffing to improve on your search engine rankings.
What is Keyword Stuffing?
If you spend a lot of time creating content for your website and base that content on keyword lists, you might be a little concerned that your efforts get incorrectly defined as keyword stuffing. What is considered keyword stuffing?
First things first, let’s answer the question: what is keyword stuffing? Keyword stuffing is the practice of using an excessive number of keywords in your content and in your meta details (tags, descriptions, titles etc) in an attempt to earn a good search engine ranking. The main objective is to boost website visibility and traffic, without having to put in the hard work of creating valuable, credible content.
That is quite simple to understand, but how many keywords is deemed “excessive” for any piece of content? Most keyword stuffers know who they are and will not be surprised if they suffer the consequences, but what about online marketers and website owners that inadvertently keyword stuff by accident? What exactly is considered keyword stuffing? Is there a template that content should be created around?
What Google Officially Considers “Keyword Stuffing”
Google’s official definition of keyword stuffing is:
“‘Keyword stuffing" refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
Examples of keyword stuffing include:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example: We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.’”
That, however does not tell you how many keywords you are allowed to use in an article, blog post, or similar. Which brings us to keyword density…
What is Keyword Density in SEO?
Keyword density is the practice of using a certain number of targeted keywords in content, a certain number of times. Your keyword density, or how many times you repeat a keyword/phrase in a post will depend on how long your post is – the word count. You might find some content mills post information for their writers about keyword density stating that they aim for 4 keyword repetitions for every 1000 words, and while this can work out just fine, it is not really an exact science. Everyone is looking for a finite answer on how many keywords are ideal for content, but that really just defeats the whole point of Google changing its algorithms in the first place. Content should be created for human consumption, not for algorithms’ benefit.
For instance, someone looking to trick Google into thinking that they are offering content without keyword stuffing might buy reams of nonsense articles, that are between 1500 and 3000 words. Then, they would simply use the correct formula or 4 keywords per 1000 words and you would think that they would win. But the good news is that they can’t. Google’s new algorithms are so advanced that they can tell when content is well-researched and effectively pieced together for a human audience, and when it has been created purely to get the right keywords out there.
The trick? Write content naturally. Have your keyword in mind, but do not agonise over piecing it into your content. Once you are finished, read the piece. Does it flow naturally? Does it sound like you are trying to fit keywords in awkwardly? A natural sounding post with keywords that include variations of the keyword, to keep things natural, is the post that Google will rank. It is all about the type of quality that you are offering. Of course, once you have written your piece, pay attention to potentially mentioning a product name or keyword too much (even if it is natural to you).
Google will present browsers with the website that best answers the question that a browser is asking, so focus your efforts on creating helpful content instead of trying to match exact keywords and phrases.
If you are worried and want exact keyword densities to work to, you can always download and make use of the various free keyword stuffing checker tools available online.
Why Keyword Stuffing is Rejected by Search Engines
Why has Google changed its approach? Why is keyword stuffing rejected? The answer is simple…Keyword stuffing is rejected by search engines, because it detracts from the user experience. While users might come up with a product page and options to buy because of keywords, the content provided with stuffed keywords does not really answer their questions and lead them to a deeper understanding of what they wanted to know more about in the first place.
Google really does reward the efforts that people put in when it comes to creating helpful content. Even if you have good content and misguidedly decide to try a bit of keyword stuffing, beware, you might be penalised. Google does not believe in short cuts and lazy marketing.
What You Can do Instead of Keyword Stuffing to Improve SEO
Instead of keyword stuffing, you can do the following to improve your search engine ranking:
- Do keyword research before deciding which to focus on. You can brain storm your own lists and look at what users are currently typing into the search box on your website. You can even use Google’s auto-complete feature in a search to see what people are searching that is related to your particular keyword or industry.
- Create quality content with a natural sound. Do not try force keywords and phrases into content – ever.
- Look at what content is currently ranking for your target keywords and see how it is structured and how keywords have been used.
- Do not simply write blog posts and hope for the best. Use a varied approach. Use different types of content marketing such as video, email, social media posts, updates, and niche forums.
- Use social proof to build report with your customers. Form real, personal relationships with your customers on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. People trust what their family, friends, and colleagues endorse. Interacting with your target audience will earn endorsements and get your business name out there, in the public eye.
- Work on getting quality backlinks. If your content is good enough, industry experts will want to link back to you and that can boost your search engine ranking.
- Update your content regularly to place it back in the spotlight of search engines crawling for quality content.
Keyword stuffing is considered an online marketing method that lacks integrity. If you want to truly compete with your competitors, take the time to position yourself (and your website) as an expert in your chosen field.
Research and create content that is truly valuable to your target audience and Google (and other search engines) will smile fondly on your efforts and reward you with a great search engine ranking. It is safe to say that Google search engine rankings must be earned – and if you are willing to put in the work and effort, you will certainly earn it.