SEO Speak – What is Keyword Stuffing

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by Emily Mace tagged ,

SEO Speak: Keyword StuffingWith the development of the Google Penguin update “Keyword Stuffing” and “over optimisation” have become phrases more and more people are using and so I thought I’d return to my SEO Speak Series and cover what “Keyword Stuffing” means and what could constitute this on your website.

Basically put Keyword Stuffing is when a word or phrase is overused on a page. Why would people do that? To try and trick Google into giving them rankings for the term they are over using.

You’ve seen this content when you’ve been looking at things on the web.  Some examples include footers which contain links to services, for example a company which sells Blue Widgets might have 30 items on their footer all called XXX Blue Widgets. They will then end up with 30 links which contain “blue Widget” and a VERY samey series of footer links.  The worst I’ve seen of this was locations – a company covered about 50 locations and had a link for each place + the name of the product they sell. This pretty much says to Google “Yes Please I’d like rankings for my product in every town listed”. Google won’t fall for this kind of tactic and it can be off-putting for visitors too.

Another example is a piece of content with only 150 words of content on it (which isn’t really enough anyway). In the 150 words there are 30 mentions of a keyword. If you find a piece of content like this out loud it will be really hard to read and won’t actually make that much sense.  Google reads content like a visitor would so if they find content which is crammed full of keywords they are likely to devalue this, and not provide you with the rankings you are after by creating this content.

One thing to avoid on your site, when considering keyword stuffing, is creating content only to get a ranking for a keyword.  If you create a blue widget page simply because you want a ranking for “blue widget” as a keyword, this won’t help you.  The search engines are looking for content which is relevant to people searching and provides them with useful, informative advice, and not just page saying that blue widgets are a thing and that you sell them.

When coming up with content ideas, rather than just creating a page for a keyword, look at how you can help potential and existing customers with the process of choosing and/or using your products. How To guides, FAQs and evergreen content are all types of pages which can be created to help your users, whilst also creating a keyword relevant item for the search engines can see.

So, how do you avoid doing this? Just make sure that when you write content it’s actually useful for your visitors and provides useful information for them rather than being about “getting a ranking”. Why do you still need these pages? Well surely you want to be seen as being relevant to the search engines for all of your core keywords don’t you? After all if you want to sell blue widgets, you want to convince your customers you are about blue widgets as well as getting them to the site from Google.

Write good quality, informative content which naturally mentioned keywords and you’re not created keyword stuffed content. Shoe-horn your keywords in more times than is natural when writing and then you might find yourself falling foul of Google’s Keyword Stuffing Rules.

If you aren’t sure if you have mentioned a keyword too many times get someone else to read it or read it out loud (yes I know you might feel silly, but it helps) and see if the outcome of this is that you think the keyword is being overused. Content should flow and read naturally not like a list of repeated keywords.

Sometimes just mentioning a keyword once on a page is enough as the days of “keyword density” (when mentioning a keyword a set percentage of the content) created rankings.

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About the author

Emily Mace

Emily Mace

Emily joined Vertical Leap in 2008 and is now the Senior SEO Campaign Delivery Manager. Emily previously worked in training, IT Support, Website development as well as SEO and worked for local Government departments and Tourism South East. Emily gained Google Analytics Individual Qualification in 2011, and regularly blogs on the technical aspects of SEO, sharing her expertise with our readers. Follow on Google+