Keyword stuffing and why to avoid it. You want your website to be getting as much traffic as possible. Finding some good keywords and repeating them over and over again should do the trick then, right?
No, it won’t. Don’t confuse high keyword density with keyword stuffing. If you’re selling car tires then keywords such as car tires and car wheels are bound to pop up in your content time and time again. That’s not exactly keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is one of those unethical black hat SEO practices that will do your website no good. It is unethical because it usually goes hand in hand with other black hat SEO methods and techniques.
Tale as Old as Time
Keyword stuffing has been around for some time. Years ago, writers would find two or three good keywords and would repeat them over and over again, all throughout their “content”.
Once upon a time, this actually made sense. Manipulating your page’s ranking on Google’s search engine was not too hard. All you had to do was hide the offending keywords somewhere inside the page.
The keywords didn’t have to be related to the content at all. Most of the time, there was no real content to be displayed anyway. White text on a white background or a font size of 0 were only some of the commonly used keyword stuffing techniques.
Google and other search engines realised that such tactics didn’t sit well with users and consequently started penalising websites that were trying to rank higher through keyword manipulation.
A Problematic Practice
Many content creators practice keyword stuffing because they believe it will help their website rank higher. The thing is that search engines hate content that’s stuffed with keywords.
Pages that are overloaded with keywords don’t provide users with any meaningful or useful information. Their only purpose is to rank and attract more visitors. They are not made for humans and don’t make for a pleasant read.
Google and other search engines know that, which is why they often penalise offending websites by lowering their rankings. Google defines keyword stuffing as “the practice of loading a web page with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results”.
Here’s an example: If you’re looking for the best winter blankets, then you’ve come to the right place. The best winter blankets keep you warm and cosy. Save on heating by buying only the best winter blankets. Click here to get the best winter blankets now!
In a paragraph of 43 words, the keyword “best winter blankets” appears 4 times. That’s a keyword density of 9,3%, which is way too high! For best results, aim for a keyword density of 2% or less.
Why It’s so Bad
We’ve explained why search engines hate keyword stuffing with a passion, but we have not yet made clear why it’s a terrible practice that you should avoid like the plague. Avoiding keyword stuffing is not just a matter of ethics.
- Direct penalties. A few extra keywords here and there won’t hurt your website too much. However, as those meaningless keywords increase in number, so do the chances of your content being flagged as spam. If a search engine deems your content to be of too low quality, your rankings will immediately reflect that verdict.
- Negative user experience. Even if you do trick people into visiting your keyword-stuffed website, you’ll only be damaging your brand. No one likes reading content that makes absolutely zero sense. People are not stupid. They’ll see right through your ploy and hit that back button faster than you can say “wait”.
- Lost potential. Keywords are crucial but don’t have too large of an impact when they are not used in combination with other SEO tactics. To rank high, you’ll also need inbound links. Problem is no one will be linking to your content if it’s of no value.
What Can You Do Instead of Keyword Stuffing?
Trying to deceive search engines is not a good idea, but you still want your site’s visibility to grow. So, what do you do?
Start by creating content with real human readers in mind. Stop thinking about ways to achieve higher rankings and focus on valuable and useful content that your visitors would want to read—and link to. In Google’s words: “Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context”.
Make sure that each one of your pages focuses on a single keyword that closely represents the content as a whole. Think of different keywords that may be suitable and then test them with a keyword extension such as Keywords Everywhere: Look for keywords with minimal competition and high search volume.
If you use similar keywords in different pages, you might end up competing with yourself, which may, in turn, hurt your rankings.
Also, keep in mind that most pages that rank well offer a considerable amount of information. Your content piece should ideally include more than 500 words in the main body. You can’t go wrong with a thousand words.
Balance is key. Too much information will not do you good either. If you have pieces that are longer than 2,000 words, consider breaking them up into segments, which will then be used to form two separate posts.
Keywords Are Still Key
Keyword stuffing is a big no-no, but that doesn’t mean you should stop using keywords altogether. You just need to find those keywords that are relevant and which will bring more organic traffic to your website.
When searching for keywords, look for subjects that you think would be interesting to your audience. Avoid repeating the same keywords over and over again. Your goal is to create content that’s engaging. Offer useful information that your visitors will enjoy and appreciate.
Did you know that keywords can have tails? That’s right. Long-tail keywords should be your best friends when creating new and engaging content. These keywords are more specific and clearly specify what a customer/visitor is looking for.
Competition and search volume for long-tail keywords is low while conversion rates are high. Fewer people are using long-tail keywords in their searches, but those who do know what they want and are usually ready to make a purchase. This makes it easier to reach niche markets and come up with a marketing strategy that covers unexplored market areas.
LSI keywords can also help with your page’s rankings. LSI (or latent semantic indexing) keywords are keywords that are related to the topic of your page. An LSI keyword generator works wonders in this case. Incorporating LSI keywords naturally makes your content appear more relevant and insightful in Google’s eyes—which is always a plus.