Avoid Keyword Stuffing

search engine optimization

Recall from earlier post that keyword stuffing is the practice of loading your web pages with keywords in an effort to artificially improve your ranking in search engine results. Depending on the page that you’re trying to stuff, this could mean using a specific keyword or key phrase a dozen times or hundreds of times.

Temporarily, this might improve your page ranking; but if it does, the improvement won’t last, because when the search engine crawler examines your site, it will find the multiple keyword uses.

Search engine crawlers use an algorithm to determine whether the keyword density — the number
of times that a keyword or phrase is used on your site — is reasonable. If it’s not, then the crawler will discover very quickly that your site can’t support the number of times you’ve used that keyword or key phrase. The result will be a lower quality score for your site, and the site will be either dropped deeper into search rankings or removed completely from search results (which is what happens in most cases).

There are no search engine guidelines that state, ‘‘It’s appropriate to use keywords on your web site X number of times,’’ because then everyone would use their keywords similarly and they would hold no value in search rankings at all. As it is, many web site owners try to skew search rankings with complicated (and not always ethical) keyword strategies. Therefore, it’s up to you to determine how many times you should include keywords in your tags, titles, text, links, headings, and content, and to hope that whatever you decide is the right solution.

Keyword stuffing, purposely or not, occurs in several ways on web pages. The first is when the content writer or web designer includes a block of text on the web page (usually at the bottom, but it can be anywhere) that is nothing more than a repetition of the chosen keyword, as shown here:

AKC Breeding AKC Breeding AKC Breeding
AKC Breeding AKC Breeding AKC Breeding
AKC Breeding AKC Breeding AKC Breeding
AKC Breeding AKC Breeding AKC Breeding

Sometimes this repetitive block of text is shown in the same font as the other text on the page, but it’s not at all unusual for a block of text like this to be the same color as the page background so that it is invisible to visitors, but perfectly readable by search engine crawlers. When it’s invisible to visitors, it’s called invisible keyword stuffing.

You also run the risk of accidentally falling victim to keyword stuffing on your page. This can happen when you place too many keywords into tags, text, and other elements of your web page. As a general rule, keep the keyword density of your page at 7 to 10 percent of the total words on your web page. For example, if your page has 300 words of text, then no more than 21 to 30 of those words should be keywords. In addition, those 21 to 30 words should be distributed between the text and the back-end meta tags.

As mentioned earlier, 7 to 10 percent keyword density isn’t a rule, but a guideline that you should try to stay close to. Some search engines will allow a little higher keyword density before flagging your site as a spam site, whereas others might allow less than 10 percent. It’s a game that you’ll have to play for a while in order to learn what works and what doesn’t. One way to ensure that you’re not overdoing it with your keywords is to use several different keywords or phrases that are unique to that page. These keywords should come from the keyword groups that you learned about at the beginning of this blog. If a keyword is not essential in helping site visitors understand a product, service, or concept, don’t use it simply as a tactic to increase your rankings. Don’t be tempted. The result of that temptation could be the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

Keywords are still one of the least expensive methods of advertising your web site. They are also a moving target, not a simple select-and-forget-it solution. You’ll have to put plenty of ongoing effort and experimentation into learning what works and what doesn’t with your PPC ads and keyword placement. If you keep your efforts consistent and regular, though, you’ll eventually find the right combination — one that not only provides the increased traffic and conversions you’re looking for, but also does it within the confines of your budget.

More About Keyword Optimization

There is much more to learn about keywords and pay-per-click programs. In later posts you’ll learn more about how to conduct keyword research, what pay-per-click programs are, and how to select the right keywords for your web site. Always keep in mind that keywords are just tools to help you improve your search rankings. 

When designing your site, the site should be designed to inform, enlighten, or persuade your site visitor to reach a goal conversion. That’s what SEO is truly all about. Keywords may be a major component of your SEO strategies, but the ultimate goal of SEO is bringing in more visitors who reach more goal conversions. Without those conversions, all the site visitors in the world won’t mean anything more than that people dropped by.

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