When ranking well on the search engine results page seems out-of-reach for your website, you may start to calculate quick wins. You want that spot so badly that you are willing to do anything to get it.
However, resorting to these cheap, sneaky tactics will land you in hot water with Google and other search engines. Using any sort of black-hat SEO tactics, including keyword stuffing, can be detrimental to your website and your reputation with search engines.
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing, which can also be called keyword spamming, is the practice of putting the keyword in your content as many times as possible in order to rank higher in the search engines. Keyword stuffing causes your content to read unnaturally, and your content won’t flow.
Keyword usage is one of the ranking factors for Google, so in theory, it would make sense to put as many keywords on your page as possible to win some major points from the algorithm. Websites used to get away with this a lot, but this was causing a lot of problems for users, as keyword stuffing made reading the content almost unbearable.
Enter Panda: Google’s February 2011 algorithm update. This update was targeting all the low-quality content on the web and penalizing it for not being user-friendly. All of those gimmicks that made crappy websites rank in the top few were no longer useful and top-quality content was actually ranking in the top.
Over the years, Google has gotten even smarter at detecting black-hat SEO tricks like keyword stuffing. Knowing this, people still attempt to one-up the search engine giant. This practice can definitely hurt your website, and it does not matter if it was on accident or on purpose.
How keyword stuffing can hurt your website
With Google’s smart technology, they can tell when your website is trying to get to a higher rank with black-hat methods. They only want the best content possible for their users, in both quality and relevance, so Google can demote your ranking from the top spot you didn’t earn.
This effectively beats the purpose of even trying keyword stuffing, because it didn’t get you where you thought you would be.
In some cases, where it is extremely apparent that keyword stuffing was the main goal or if there have been multiple strikes against you, your page can even be removed from Google altogether! That will really hurt your SEO performance, so it is best to not try to outsmart the search engines at all.
Tips to avoid keyword stuffing
So now you realize just how bad keyword stuffing is. But how do you avoid it? Follow these tips below to stay on Google’s good side and keep your readers happy and coming back!
Write how you would speak
The key here is really to write naturally.
You wouldn’t speak the same words five times over the course of three sentences, so don’t let your writing fall vulnerable to that. Write just like you would if you were speaking and explaining your content to a friend.
This tip helps ensure keyword stuffing is not an issue, and there is an added benefit to making the reader feel like they are reading something with a familiar tone.
Outline your content first
If you outline your main ideas before you even start writing, you will be able to see where you are able to casually throw some keywords in. This is a great way to ensure that you have enough content to include various keywords, but also enough non-keyword centered content that will balance out the whole piece.
An example of outlining for keywords would be to make sure you have a section (with a heading!) for each keyword idea you want to target. In this same outline, make sure there are a couple of sections that are not focused on keywords, so the piece does not feel like it is harping on keyword after keyword.
Don’t know where to even start planning your keywords?
Once you have your list of potential keywords, see if any of them have a theme. If you have identified a few themes, then you have identified a few section ideas!
Try not to include every single keyword that matches that theme in that specific section – that can lead it to feel unnatural! Aim to only include one or two in each section so that there is still readability, but you are incorporating your keywords in a very well-practiced way.
Keep keyword density in mind
Keyword density is the percentage of keywords you have vs. your total word count (# of keywords / # total words). This is a great metric to calculate because it can be a great self-check to see if you are on the verge of keyword stuffing or not.
Ideally, a good keyword density percentage to have is about 2 to 5%. Although some say that there really is no acceptable range to keep keyword density in, the majority of SEO professionals would say that this is the correct ratio to aim for.
Get creative with your keyword list
Having a keyword list is a great starting point to have. It is the basis for everything you create! One thing you could do is expand it a bit. Try to think of long-tail keywords (search queries of 3 or more words) that relate to the keywords on your list.
These do not explicitly count towards keyword stuffing, because they are variants. With that being said, do not repeat all of these long-tail keywords in a paragraph; they are purely meant for section ideas.
An example is a question that someone would type into the search bar and your article contains the answer he or she is looking for. Writing with these long-tail keywords in mind not only helps the reader find the answer quicker, but it can also help the search engines match that search query with your article. Everyone knows that by clicking on your piece of content, the user will be getting an answer.
Create quality content, get quality results
At the end of the day, all Google and the other search engines really want you to do is great good content. Their main focus is the users. If the users are happy, they are happy. Write articles and posts that are beneficial to everyone who reads them, and make sure they are actually easy and enjoyable to read!
Hire a professional to write content
Experts like those at IndustrialFX have extensive experience in creating amazing pieces of content. They know the tricks of the trade and will ensure that the pages on your website are performing to their potential. From idea creation to keyword research to coming up with the finished product, they know what to do and how to do it well. Their work will WOW you, your readers, and the search engines.
In essence, keyword stuffing is a serious no-go when it comes to creating content. Trying to include as many keywords as possible is not enjoyable for any reader, and the search engines seriously hate it too.
Even though this practice normally has a malicious intent, sometimes website owners publish keyword-stuffed pages on their website with no awareness that there is something wrong with it. Are you nervous to create content, thinking that you could fall into the keyword-stuffing trap? Contact the experts at IndustrialFX to help you get started on making your website the best it can be today!