Keyword stuffing is stuffing your keyword in every possible keyword stuffing situation. Get it?
WHAT IS KEYWORD STUFFING?
No, it’s not a Thanksgiving side dish. Keyword stuffing is an outdated practice in the world of search engine optimization, but some companies haven't gotten the memo yet. (And if you still print your memos, you probably still stuff your keywords.) In keyword stuffing, you cram your focus keywords into a webpage as often as they will fit, whether or not it's actually a good idea to use them that many times. This usually leads to completely nonsensical sentences like "Joe's Roof Repair is proud to be the best Joe's Roof Repair Toledo, Ohio" and a much, much worse experience for the users who end up on your site.
Is Keyword Stuffing Good for SEO?
Search engines have come a long way since the days when Google bombing was a viable way to show up on results pages. Their crawlers have become much more advanced than they used to be, and they don't only search for the presence of keywords. While the exact elements that search engines prioritize are a carefully-kept secret, it is clear that stuffing your page with the same keyword hundreds of times will harm your rankings, not help them. When these crawlers encounter particularly egregious cases of keyword stuffing, Google and other major search engines may demote or even delist the offending website entirely.
In short: if your website looks like spam, acts like spam, and uses spammy language, don't be surprised when the search engines begin to treat your content like spam.
How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Now that you know why you should avoid stuffing your website with every possible permutation of keywords, let's go over some things you can do to prevent it from becoming a problem.
- Write your content for humans first and robots second. Search algorithms can change from day to day, but good content will always be valuable to (human) readers. Focus on making the information accessible and easy to read.
- Use secondary keywords. Keywords are like food: You can't eat only the same thing for every meal. If you focus on a single keyword to the exclusion of all others, you miss out on a large amount of search traffic. Give your writers a variety of long tail keywords to use and don't expect them to fit all of them into the first sentence of your post.
- Write long-form content. Having longer content allows you to use your keywords in a more natural-sounding context, and it allows you to use more of them without sounding unnatural or forced.
- Track and measure your keyword density. More on this in a minute.
- Don't neglect places to put hidden keywords. The title tag and meta description of each page, as well as alt tags of images, are great places to place your focus keyword without becoming spammy.
How Do You Check for Keyword Stuffing?
There are a few ways to check for keyword stuffing, and most of the time, they are easy to integrate into your content creation routine. One of the best ways to spot keyword stuffing before it finds its way onto your website is to have someone (who isn't part of the writing or SEO team) take a look at it. If James from Accounting realizes that he's being spammed at, so will the unlucky few users who wind up on your website.
Another good way to check for keyword stuffing is to track the density of each keyword. To calculate this, count the number of times your page uses a specific keyword. Divide that number by the total number of words in the post. Multiply that by 100, and you'll have the percent of space in your post that is taken up by that keyword. If that seems like a lot of math to you, there are plenty of SEO tools that will calculate this for you.
What Is the Ideal Keyword Density?
In general, the sweet spot for keyword density is one keyword every 100-200 words. If your density is greater than that, you risk sounding like a spambot. If it's lower, you risk your content not ranking on search engines at all.
That said, every piece of content is different, and there may not be a lot of synonyms to use for your focus keyword. In cases like this, you can often use a higher keyword density as long as you're careful to make your content read naturally.
Now that you're done stuffing your keywords, you can get back to the good stuff. Yes, we mean writing impactful content that will move the needle without sounding like a scratched record.
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