What is Keyword Stuffing?
Keyword stuffing or SEO over optimisation is a practice of squeezing keywords into your contents unnaturally in hopes of manipulating search engine rankings. Here’s an example of keyword stuffing…
It is a shady technique that website owners should stay away from as much as possible. Adding as many keywords as possible to your content is quite tempting. However, these days Google is smart enough to identify keyword spamming and as a result your website could face a hefty penalty.
Having said that, we cannot ignore the relevance of adding significant keywords to website contents. After all, SEO is fundamentally about getting visible on as many targeted keywords and phrases as possible.
Basically, problems only arise if your content reads poorly because of SEO over optimisation. To get the results you are looking for, you need to maintain a suitable keyword density. As a general rule, if word count of a specific page is 500, your main keyword should appear at least 3 to 4 times giving you a keyword density of around 1%.
When it comes to adding SEO keywords to content, you don’t need to force them in. It is not a good idea to put in keywords that will ruin the grammar and readability of your content which will result in Google handing over a penalty.
The Dangers of SEO Over Optimisation
Matt Cutts of Google gave webmasters a warning about SEO keyword stuffing and over-optimization. According to him:
We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.
Keyword stuffing is a dangerous game and Google dislikes black hat techniques like this because it tends to focus on beating the search engine algorithm instead of providing a great user experience.
Apart from being ignored by Google, there are other dangers of keyword stuffing. For one, your likely customers will be bouncing off from your website in a hurry without doing any valuable actions such as giving you a ring or filling out a form. Your website users will see your page as spam. Remember, they came to your website expecting to read valuable and informative content. So, they’re highly unlikely to return to your website ever again.
Best Practices to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
It is crucial to know the difference between keyword stuffing and natural keyword usage. Using keywords in your content is of utmost importance and the key here is moderation as well as focusing more on your visitors and less on crawlers. Here are some best practices to guide you in creating information-rich content.
Target More on Intent Than Keywords –
Every keyword has some intent. As a marketer, you have to understand why in the the first place someone has searched a phrase or keyword. For example, if your target keyword is “keyword stuffing example”, you know someone wants to see a good example in order to avoid it. So, your contents could revolve around a discussion on an example. In my experience, when you target the intent you naturally start including keywords as long as you have the target keywords in the back of your mind.
Increase Word Count – Increasing your content’s word count is the best way to naturally practice keyword stuffing. Instead of writing 500 words, try to write 800 words where you can include more keywords in the extra 300 words.
Again, don’t write contents just to increase keyword frequency but to provide great information and user experience. You may beat Google but you won’t be able to trick real humans, your customers!
Use Synonyms of your Keywords – This is a great strategy to establish topic relevancy for Google.
Did you notice I use words like spamming, frequency, density etc in this post to send relevancy signals to Google and avoid repeating my main keyword? I am sure you got the idea.
Having the Right Mind-set – Your mind can get caught up in adding SEO keywords to the content when writing for SEO that you tend to stop focusing on the writing itself. It should be the other way around. When creating a useful post, you’re most likely to naturally add keywords to your content. As you go along, you will start including keywords that blend in well with the information rather than adding them just for the sake of SEO.
Quality Content is Still the King – Quality is still the king as far as your content is concerned. Google and other search engines put more weight on the quality of your content when determining your website’s rank. SEO keywords are definitely a big help to achieve a high rank, but they can only be effective if you’re making high-quality content. Put quality first when writing, once you are in the flow, as stated above, the keywords can be naturally added.
The best practice and strategy is to always ask yourself if the use and place of a keyword reads naturally. You are likely to climb higher in the search engine rankings if your keywords are usable and will serve your readers well.
Simply put, Keyword stuffing should not be used by any modern business who wants to boost their ranking on search engines. The best way to avoid it is by focusing more on crafting interesting and unique contents which will engage readers and using keywords smartly.