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Last Thanksgiving, I got upset when no one at my family dinner laughed at my keyword stuffing joke. Now that I think about it, they never get any of my SEO nerd jokes. For all you non-SEO nerds out there, keyword stuffing refers to excessively repeating the same word or phrase in Web content (and sometimes hidden in the HTML of the page) in an attempt to rank for that word or phrase in search engines.
The biggest problem with keyword stuffing is that it makes for poor user experience. Imagine how obnoxious this blog post would be if I kept randomly sprinkling “SEO company Gaithersburg” in it for no apparent reason. You know what keyword stuffing and my blonde hair have in common? It just ain’t natural:
Will Keyword Stuffing Improve My Rankings?
It takes two things to rank in Google—relevance and authority. In the past, keyword stuffing was generally a good strategy to prove your relevancy to search engines for the given term. A Web page with 10 mentions of “SEO company Gaithersburg” was considered more relevant than a page with only one mention of the phrase.
However, Google soon realized this made for poor user experience. According to the search engine,
“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.” [source]
So there it is—straight from the horse’s mouth:
What Is Considered Keyword Stuffing?
So at what point is a keyword “stuffed”? Most instances of keyword stuffing involve lists or groups of words or numbers that appear out of context and not as “natural prose.” According to Google, examples of keyword stuffing include:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example: We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Tell if Your Site Has Been Penalized for Keyword Stuffing
I hope you’re using Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) to monitor the health of your site on a regular basis. Alternatively, I hope you work with an SEO company that does this for you! Once you’ve logged into GWT, navigate to the “Manual Actions” tab on the left hand side—you’ll find it under the tab that says “Search Traffic.”
If Google has flagged you for keyword stuffing, you will see a message here that says “Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing.” If this is the case, you’ll have to remove the hidden text and re-work your content prior to submitting a reconsideration request to Google to lift the manual action.
Worried you’ve been penalized for keyword stuffing? Don’t worry—we offer Google penalty recovery services and can get your site back on Google’s good side.
How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Instead of focusing on a single keyword or phrase in your Web page content—which looks spammy and can get you penalized—you should instead use a wide variety of keyword variations and synonyms. Google uses a process called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) that recognizes synonymous terms to deem a page relevant to a search query.
At the end of the day, writing quality content that adheres to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines is hard work and takes time. If you own a small to medium sized business, you probably don’t have time to write the content yourself and probably don’t have the resources to hire someone to write for you full time. That’s where we come in.
If you’re looking for high quality content marketing services that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, give us a call. We’ll help you get more leads and sales from the Web at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in house writer.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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