What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the unnecessary repetition of keywords or phrases that site owners use in an attempt to boost their search rankings for said keywords.

Examples of Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is more than the unnecessary repetition of a single word or phrase; the act can take on a variety of forms. Irrelevant keywords may look like: 

  • Blocks of texts listing cities and states the webpage is trying to rank for;
  • Inserted terms that are irrelevant to the article;
  • Text the same color as the page to “camouflage” it;
  • Repetition of the same word over and over in the same sentence/block of text;
  • Words used out of context.

Repeating the Same Word Over and Over

A common example of keyword stuffing is unnecessary usage of the same word over and over again — even in places where it doesn’t belong. Typically, writers do this because they think it will increase the odds of their content ranking for that particular word when, in all actuality, Google’s bots will see it as spam and won’t return that article in the SERPs. Repetition may look something like this:

We sell homemade wooden tables. If you are looking for homemade wooden tables, then we would love to fulfill your homemade wooden table needs. If you are thinking of buying a homemade wooden table, contact our wooden table specialists today to get your quote about wooden tables.

Not only is that difficult to read, but it sounds very unnatural and could be off-putting to the reader and the bots. 

Keyword Invisibility

Keyword invisibility is just as it sounds — the text on the page is essentially invisible. The writer basically tries to be sneaky by making the text the same color as the background. Therefore, they are able to camouflage an abundance of keywords throughout the article without them being seen by the human eye. However, search engines, are in fact, able to pick up on this creative keyword stuffing method, and may even penalize the pages that are guilty of doing so. 

Use of Irrelevant Keywords

Although it may seem like common sense to not include words in a sentence/paragraph/article in general that don’t belong, yet, some writers still choose to do so in order to sneak in a keyword or two. For example, it would make no sense to talk about handmade wooden tables in an article about roof repair, just to fit in your target keyword in every article. If it isn’t related, don’t add it.

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How Keyword Stuffing Hurts Your Search Engine Rankings

Black hat SEO practices are manipulative ways of improving SERP rankings via cloaking, keyword stuffing, and robot-driven link building. Simply put, black hat practices are bad for your page, whereas white hat SEO is a more ethical by-the-book way to improve search engine results. When creating content for a website, writers will want to practice white hat techniques. If they don’t feel up to speed on what these techniques entail, they can invest in SEO services to ensure their page is properly formatted and written in a way that will benefit them in the long run. 

Google’s ranking algorithm is smart enough to pick up on the exploitation of keywords. If it sees a page guilty of keyword stuffing, it essentially ignores it and attempts to find a different result that will meet the searcher’s query.

How to Use Keywords Correctly

Correctly using keywords within an article is a basic SEO best practice. We measure and conceptualize this balance in terms of density. Keyword density “describes the ratio of SEO keywords on a webpage as a percentage of the total words on that page.” The general rule-of-thumb is that the target keywords should only account for 2% to 4% of the entire article. However, it is important to remember that this is just an estimate and that there really is no “magic number” that determines how many keywords each article should have. 

Assign a Main Keyword to Each Page

Instead of choosing multiple keywords, only target one per page. Failure to do so could result in keyword cannibalization, or a lack of definite topical relevance in the eyes of bots, crawlers, and humans alike. It can be helpful to keep track of the keywords that you are targeting per page to ensure that you’re not needlessly doubling your efforts. 

Meet a Word Requirement

To help ensure the authority of a page, create content that consists of 300 words or more. Not only does this provide more in-depth information for the reader on the subject, it also creates more opportunities to include relevant keywords and internal links. It will also give the writer more opportunities to pay attention to their keyword placement and ensure they are writing sentences that compliment the keyword, and the rest of the article. 

Add a Variety of Keyword Variations

Keyword variations include long-tail, short-term, secondary keywords, and synonyms. For a contextual example, let’s use the keyword “wooden table.” Variations of this keyword following the recommended formula include:

  • Tables made from wood;
  • Wood slab table
  • Wood table;
  • Wood table top;
  • Wooden tables.

Even if your article leans more towards the linkable content side, it is still important to be aware of your keyword placement, since linkable articles use keywords too. Link-building services can help to ensure you use the right number of keywords while maintaining optimal link building techniques.