Hold the (Keyword) Stuffing - Web Kaizen™

Hold the (Keyword) Stuffing

Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing Made with Bread and Herbs

Search engines – and searchers themselves – love keywords. They’re tasty little bites you’re tempted to fill your plate with to satisfy your hunger for higher ranking on search engine results pages. Stuffing them into every content bite is, however, a recipe for SEO indigestion.

In fact, to rank higher in SERPs, take it easy on the keyword stuffing. That’s the outdated and shady practice of adding heaps of the same keywords into content over and over again to “fool” search engines into giving your page a higher quality ranking. But who is being fooled? Not Wikipedia:

“Keyword stuffing is a search engine optimization technique, considered webspam or spamdexing, in which keywords are loaded into a web page’s meta tags, visible content, or backlink anchor text in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines.” – Wikipedia

Incredibly, some websites still engage in this long-discouraged activity. Take, for example, a website that offers neither cakes nor the delivery of cakes. Is that company benefiting by lacing its content with words like “cakes,” “cake delivery,” or “cakes delivered near you?” Is stuffing these keywords into the meta tags of pages that don’t provide these products or services really a good idea? Not according to Google.

Skip the stuffing

Filling pages with irrelevant keywords will ruin a user’s experience. Doing so harms your website’s ranking and reputation thanks to improved search engine algorithms. In fact, keyword stuffing leaves such a bad taste in Google’s mouth, it provides clear examples of the unpalatable practice – including one where the same words or phrases are repeated so often they sound unnatural:

“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 custom.cigar.humidors@example.com.”

Google and other search engines look at keyword density and relevance to rate content quality. You can measure keyword density by dividing the number of words in your content copy by the number of times the keyword appears within it. The resulting percentage is keyword density – and best practices dictate that it not exceed 2%.

Other keyword stuffing tactics include making keyword-laden text invisible by matching it to the background color and packing keywords into alt tags or other hidden page code. The thing all these practices share is intent – intent to convince both users and search engines that the page’s content is something other than what it actually is.

Get to the meat

Your site should strive to engage your readers – and stuffing your pages with keywords will do anything but that. In fact, doing so won’t even engage search engines. When users don’t find what’s promised on your webpage, bounce rates jump as fast as resentment and dissatisfaction. Rather than pulling people to your site, you’ll drive them away.

Instead, optimize for search engines by choosing a primary keyword for each page and placing it in the right places on the page. Add it to the page title, the title tag, the meta description, the first paragraph, H2 subheads, image alt tags, and to the last paragraph – but ensure it’s relevant in each instance; otherwise, leave it out.

Aim for the right keyword density and page length. Use the target keyword throughout your copy but only where it’s relevant. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress has a keyword density checker to help you keep track.

Otherwise, you can just do the math. Search engines prefer pages of at least 300 words so they’re able to provide users with insight relating to what the page contains. A 300-word article would ideally contain 6 instances of the primary keyword.

You can also increase your SEO score by adding secondary keywords and keyword synonyms to the body copy. Find related keywords by searching Google for your primary keyword. Review the list of related searches it generates for secondary keywords you can use.

So with your next post, skip the keyword stuffing and get right to the main course: relevant, engaging content that keeps readers coming back for another serving.

Greg Norton

Hold the (Keyword) Stuffing

was written by me, Greg Norton – also known as webzenkai. I’ve got more than two decades’ experience building effective websites and powerful email campaigns that yield results. Feel free to contact me regarding this article or anything else you find on this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How can i help you?

Got a question or suggestion? Let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!