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Keyword stuffing doesn’t work – here’s what does

When optimising your website for search engines such as Google, it can be tempting to take shortcuts. You may want to try tactics that will speed up the process and help you start ranking higher faster. However, shortcuts and tactics like keyword stuffing won’t help you – they may actually hinder your progress.

What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is when a brand fills or “stuffs” a webpage with the same target term in the hope of ranking higher for that term on search engines. While not as popular as it was a few years ago, it is still occasionally used to boost search visibility.

Types of visible keyword stuffing include:

  • Unnecessarily repeating words or phrases,
  • Adding words that are out of context,
  • Inserting blocks of the same keyword,
  • Using keywords that are not relevant to the topic of the page.

There is also a type of keyword stuffing that is not visible to audiences. This tactic places terms and phrases in places that are hidden from readers. It includes:

  • Using text that is the same colour as the background (to hide words from readers, but display them to search engine crawlers),
  • Repeating text in the page’s code, meta tags, alt attributes and comment tags.

While both types of keyword stuffing may seem like a clever way to trick search engines into giving you higher search engine rankings, both actually lead to lower rankings for a website.

Keyword stuffing is bad for your website because …

Basically, it creates an awful experience for users. The aim of website content is to educate, serve and engage users. When you stuff your pages with keywords that are unnecessarily repeated, you are unable to fulfil the purpose of your website. If you write content with the aim of pleasing search engines, you essentially stop writing for your audience, which creates a poor experience for them and will likely send them away from your page.

Keyword stuffing is also heavily frowned upon by search engines such as Google and could lead to a search penalty. So, while it might be tempting to game the system, it’s vital to avoid stuffing your pages with keywords.

How to use keywords effectively for your website

To ensure that a webpage is ranked for a specific keyword, focus on using the keyword appropriately, instead of stuffing in the keyword. As Google’s quality guidelines explain: “Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”

  1. Do the research. Begin by assessing the subject matter of your business. What words would you use to define your business? Narrow down the general topic of your website and the types of categories it will branch off to. Start by creating a list of words that describe the content of your website.
  2. Find the right balance. While it is tempting to try and stuff keywords into your website, this is less helpful than you might think. From a user perspective, having a word repeated in quick succession more than a few times can be a bit tiring.
  3. Assign a primary keyword to each webpage. Choose one specific target keyword per webpage. The primary phrase should be relevant to the topic and closely tied to the content. This sends a clear message to search engines about what each piece of content is about.
  4. Write for the reader. The best content is created for readers first. Write naturally and use the keyword organically in your copy.
  5. Write 300 or more words. To encourage search engines to rank a page for a target keyword, write 300 or more words of main body copy on the page. Search engines are more likely to rank your content if it is thorough and in-depth.
  6. Stick to the appropriate keyword density. Keep your keyword density below 2% to stay within the guidelines for best SEO practices.
    *Keyword density in SEO is the percentage of times a keyword is used in the copy.
  7. Add a bit extra. Use secondary keywords that are synonyms and long-tail versions of your primary target term to reinforce what your content is about and help crawlers rank your page.

Unlike keyword stuffing, these keyword optimisation tactics send positive signals to search engines to get them to notice and rank your page for the intended term.

As you can see, a lot goes into researching and identifying the right keywords to use in your website copy. ICSC takes time and effort to do the appropriate research and determine the keywords which will best suit your audience. This enables us to create strategic content that will boost your search engine results and make it easier for your audience to find you online. You need research and strategy to optimise your content and give your pages the edge to rank above your competitors. Let ICSC jump right in and write your content for you.