What is keyword stuffing? How to use keywords correctly
What is keyword stuffing? In short, your content is stuffed with an inordinate number of keywords with the aim of ranking higher on Google.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial if you want your website to be visible online. Many website owners strive to get in the top results on Google, and keyword stuffing seems like a handy shortcut. However, this technique could easily backfire, so it is advisable to educate yourself on the possible consequences.
The exact logic behind Google’s algorithm is a mystery. However, we know that search engines can detect poorly written content and spam practices. Therefore, it’s best to stay safe with SEO and focus on delivering content that your audience will appreciate and appreciate rather than posts stuffed with search terms.
This article explains what keyword stuffing is and how it can affect your site’s reputation. We also list some tips on using keywords properly. Let’s dive in!
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is the excessive use of certain words or phrases in web content aimed at manipulating the website’s ranking on search engines. This was an effective practice until the introduction of Google Algorithm Updates in hopes of reducing spam content and improving the overall quality of the top results.
What does it look like exactly? As a rule of thumb, if you’re reading your text aloud and your keywords sound awkward or unnatural, you could be guilty of keyword stuffing. Check out this example provided by Google:
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handcrafted. If you are thinking of purchasing a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors[at]example.com
As you can see, the phrase ‘custom humidors for cigars‘ appears too often in such a small amount of text that it sounds robotic and spammy. Additionally, Google classifies the following behaviors as keyword stuffing:
- Phone number lists without significant added value
- Blocks of text that list and identify cities that a website is attempting to rank for
Another dubious practice is loading your page with invisible keywords. For example, some users might disguise certain terms or phrases by using white font on a white background. Or they place large chunks of content in the page’s code. However, search engines are now intelligent enough to recognize keyword stuffing even when the text is not visible.
Why you should avoid keyword stuffing on your WordPress blog
The purpose of search engines is to provide content that matches users’ search intent. Therefore, bombard your website with phrases like “best pizza in town‘ seems like a good idea if you want to improve your pizzeria’s online presence. However, this can affect your ranking or even cause your website to be removed from search results.
Keyword stuffing is reported to be a common trigger for penalties. A Google penalty can be partial, affect specific pages, or apply to your entire site. As a result, your content may not appear in search engine results.
It’s important to note that the exact guidelines regarding keyword stuffing are not clear. Google is careful to limit information about its algorithm to encourage content creators to publish quality posts that are beneficial to users, rather than writing for search engines.
Still, overuse of keywords can negatively impact user experience (UX), which is a well-known ranking factor. Additionally, if you fill your page with popular search terms, you may have to deal with a skyrocketing bounce rate.
Repeating the exact same words or phrases looks messy or illegible and causes visitors to leave your site. Even if your website ranks well initially, a high bounce rate can alert search engines that your content is of poor quality.
Quick tips for using keywords correctly
Now that we’ve talked about keyword stuffing and its implications, you might be wondering how to use keywords effectively. Below are four SEO best practices to consider.
1. Choose a primary keyword for each post and page
Ranking well in your niche means identifying your focus keyword and optimizing your content accordingly. If you’re not sure what terms your audience is searching for, you can use tools like Keyword Planner. It shows you the average number of monthly searches for your chosen phrase, indicates the difficulty of the ranking and suggests alternatives:
If you’re not sure which tool to use, check out our guides here:
It’s smart to target long-tail keywords rather than short words or phrases. The more specific you are, the better your chances of ranking high in your niche.
If you’re new to the market and have just launched your website, it can be difficult to rank for highly competitive keywords. As such, it’s often best to target less popular search terms. Also, avoid using the same word or phrase on multiple pages as search engines may not know which to crawl first.
Note that you can also add secondary keywords, synonyms, or related long-tail phrases. These can boost your SEO efforts as they add context to your page and help search engines understand and index your site. Also, your copy will look much more natural and human.
WordPress SEO plugins like Rank Math can help you optimize your posts with nearly unlimited keywords. However, keep in mind that more does not necessarily mean better, and that you can get excellent results with just one goalseeker expression.
Check out our complete guide to keyword research for WordPress for more information.
2. Put your keyword in the right places
Once you’ve identified your focus keyword, make sure you use it strategically. It’s usually best to paste it in the following places:
Note that your body copy should be at least 300 words. Otherwise, search engines may not be able to judge the quality of your content. Short posts can also indicate that your content offers less value to potential readers, so it’s a good idea to include long articles on your blog.
3. Look for the appropriate keyword density
As a general rule, most SEO experts recommend that your keyword should appear in no more than 2% of your text. For example, if your article is 1,000 words, it should be safe to use your primary keyword fewer than 20 times. However, this guideline is largely speculative and Google does not publish official guidelines on optimal keyword density (just her Give such answers with restraint).
It can be difficult to do math as you write, so using an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO. This tool calculates the ideal number of keywords based on the length of your text and lets you know if you’ve used them too often:
Yoast SEO will also let you know when you haven’t used your focus word or phrase enough. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to keyword density, so don’t get too obsessed with an ideal number or percentage. Instead, make sure your keyword appears in the most important elements of your website, as described above.
4. Write for people, not machines
Finally, remember that your content should be attractive to people, not just search engines. While it’s best practice to follow industry SEO standards, keep in mind that stuffing your copy with keywords isn’t natural to the human eye.
Positive UX is an important factor for ranking, so it pays to learn about SEO copywriting. Essentially, you should use your keywords in a way that makes them fit naturally with the rest of your article, rather than forcing them into the text in a nonsensical way.
Remember that if your text is difficult to read, your visitors may leave your website. Therefore, it is better to engage users with clear and valuable content that answers their questions.
Check out our guide to creating engaging content for people for some tips.
Keyword stuffing seems like an attractive solution to your SEO problems. Theoretically, this can increase your website’s visibility, as search engines serve the pages that seem most relevant to users’ search terms first. However, this approach can do more harm than good, so it’s best not to overuse your keywords.
In this article, we talked about what keyword stuffing is and how it can negatively impact your website. As a reminder, Google can detect abnormal usage of a particular word or phrase, which may result in a penalty. Also, excessive use of keywords can decrease the readability of your content, negatively impact your site’s UX, and increase your bounce rate.
If you want to learn how to do SEO “right”, we have plenty of guides to help you: