Why Keyword Stuffing Can Kill Your SEO

The more, the merrier, right? Well, not quite. Sometimes less is more, and that’s the case when it comes to keywords. Using too many, or stuffing as many as you can onto your page is called ‘keyword stuffing.’ 

A little history…

Keyword stuffing used to be a best practice. Say what now? That’s right—marketers used to pack in keywords to manipulate their ranking and soar to the top of Google. Search engines eventually caught onto the practice, wagged their fingers, and penalized websites that stuffed their pages with keywords like a Build-A-Bear. Adding too many to a page now can drop your page down in the rankings, or even get your page removed from the search results entirely. 

Why are search engines against keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing doesn’t create a seamless and positive user experience, and that’s what search engines aim to do. Whether you’re subtly making the words the same color as the background of your page, or obviously and obnoxiously plastering them all over (think: the same word 500 times on a page), it delivers a negative feeling to users. And, let’s be honest, after extensive stuffing, it’s no longer useful or easily-readable content.  

Think of it this way: When you pack your page with keywords, you write content for a machine—not a human audience. Therefore, the content becomes spammy and artificial and, therefore, doesn’t serve the reader’s needs. Your website content should always benefit your readers.

Interested in learning more about keywords?

Check out our blog on using keywords on social media.

How do I know if I’m keyword stuffing?

People still keyword stuff frequently, and might not even know they’re doing it. If you’re repeating the same word throughout the blog, count how many times you’re using it. While there are no strict guidelines, Search Engine Watch recommends using a keyword density of 2% or less. Find this number by dividing the number of times you’ve used your keyword by the total number of words in your content piece, and multiply by 100. 

If you’re using keyword invisibility (camouflaging the word on the page by making it the same color as the background or putting it into the code), chances are that you’re stuffing. Search efforts aren’t as easily fooled as people think, and they notice these attempts at outsmarting the algorithm. 

Best practices for using keywords

  1. Choose one primary keyword. Choose a word that is both popular, but has low competition. Once you make your selection, make it exclusive to just this web page. This will prevent your pages from competing with one another. 
  2. Write at least 300-500 words. The more in-depth your content is, the higher you are likely to rank. And, bonus, this gives you more room to space out your keywords and decrease your density. 
  3. Place keywords correctly. Alexa blog says, “To fully optimize a page, use the keyword once in the following places:
  • Page title
  • At least one subheading
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • At least one image alt tag
  • First paragraph
  • Near the conclusion of the post.”
  1. If your site host can run an SEO report, do it. Before publishing your content, be sure to run a report to make sure you didn’t miss any opportunities to optimize your page for SEO fully. It’s easy to miss things on your list!

With these tips, you can avoid overstuffing your website with keywords and strengthening your SEO. By doing so, you’ll climb up the search engine pages to deliver content that satisfies and retains your readers.

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