In the practice of SEO writing, ‘keyword stuffing’ is the (bad) habit of fitting as many of the relevant keywords into one article or page as possible. In the early days of SEO this was something that worked well and could help to get a ranking boost, but this is no longer the case. If your website is caught with keyword stuffed articles, then Google is likely to punish you.
What are the dangers in keyword stuffing?
While it was once a ‘white hat’ tactic, keyword stuffing is now purely seen as a ‘black hat’ tactic which is no longer viewed kindly by Google. In fact Matt Cutts, of Google, has stated:
“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.”
The basic danger here is if you are seen as SEO writing or keyword stuffing, Google will lower your Page Rank, or worse they could remove your website from their listings altogether. That said, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on keyword density and working with it, but content should be unique, natural and informative – not just forcing keywords in for the sake of having them there.
Another major downside to keyword stuffing is that most customers will not stay on a site that encourages the practice. Whilst the general internet user won’t recognise it as an outreach tactic, they will notice that it makes content unwelcoming and, frankly, unreadable in many cases. When a customer feels uncomfortable with your website, they’ll immediately leave, taking their custom with them.
Keyword Optimization that works
Using keywords is still an important part of SEO writing, as long as it is done responsibly. While it can be disheartening to hear that Google is cracking down on keyword stuffing, with harsh penalties, it’s no reason to be scared in submission or ditch keywords altogether. You need them, in order to fit into SEO algorithms.
Think of keywords as you would some of life’s finer things: moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle – the same applies to your website. Stop focusing on the SEO bots that crawl your site and think instead, about your human audience. Create content that is rich, unique and personable; always speak to your readership in a natural manner, not a robotic, keyword heavy tone.
How to make sure you balance keywords safely
Other than keeping a natural flow to your content, how can you use keywords safely? Many will tell you that there is no magic number for keyword density, whereas others will tell you it is between 2% and 5% of an article’s total word count.
One way of using assuring your keyword allocation is not seen as stuffing is to use synonyms (words that are different but hold the same meaning). Why not go straight to the source? Google’s synonym database is filled with relevant and useful replacement words. This digital thesaurus helps to differentiate between meanings, which aides in narrowing down site searches and shows the difference between, say, a baseball bat or a flying bat.
Using Google’s own synonym database is also a clever way to keep up to date, as the Google staff are always updating and expanding their content. To keep your site higher in search results, make sure you are using the database to your advantage wherever possible.
As long as you remember to follow these basic guidelines to avoid keyword stuffing and create unique content for your site, you should both avoid any punitive measures, and notice an increase in your website’s traffic.