Last week we gave some tips on adding metadata to your website. One recurring theme when deciding on your metadata is to include the main keywords (the phrases a user searches for on search engines to find websites that match what they are looking for) you are targeting. In order for your website to rank for particular keywords, they have to be included in a variety of places such as the Page Title, Meta Description and the actual copy content of the website.
What is keyword stuffing?
The term “keyword stuffing” has been around since the early days of SEO. It’s used to describe a shady technique website owners adopt in order to manipulate their site’s search ranking for a particular keyword, or set of keywords. If you have been to a website that displays a list of words or phrases that have little or no relevance to the content on the website, then it is likely that website is keyword stuffing.
Google gives these examples of keyword stuffing:
- 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.
Not only does keyword stuffing look unsightly, it also gives a poor user experience, as the out of context content seems unnatural to any web visitor. To get around this, keyword stuffing is often hidden so it is less obvious to website visitors. For example, websites may use white text on white background to hide the copy, alternatively they may hide text through CSS styling or positioning, or keyword stuff the metadata and alt text. The hidden keywords are still visible to search engines, however they are likely to penalize sites who adopt these methods. Search engines taking a dim view of the practice and are likely give a lower, not higher, search ranking.
How can I avoid keyword stuffing?
The easiest way to avoid keyword stuffing is to create rich content that will be useful to the end user, that reads naturally. Although keywords should definitely be featured in your content, they should not be included out of context to the reader. Opinions around keyword density vary, but as a rule, try to avoid repetition and only include keywords that are relevant to the subject of your web page. Including long tail keywords is a good way to prevent repetition.
Simply put, the best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to forget it exists, and instead concentrate on creating content that is interesting to the end user and that features your main keyword naturally.