Many among us believe that, as much use of keywords and better the ranking! How do you know whether you have crossed the line with keyword stuffing? This article will help you understand it better. We shall discuss keyword stuffing, examples, and how you can avoid it by adopting healthy SEO practices.
Adding relevant key phrases is helpful to optimize your website pages to improve the ranking on the search engine platforms like Google. A lot of businesses try manipulative tactics to get a higher rank. But acting smart and loading articles with irrelevant key terms without knowing the ideal density can drop your ranking too.
Keyword stuffing is bad for search engine ranking. This is why, here, we’ll provide you with in-depth knowledge of key terms & phrases stuffing, examples, and ways to avoid it.
So, let’s have an in-depth look to know about keyword stuffing or KWS. Hereby we may also ‘Keyword‘ as ‘KW‘ at some places.
- What Exactly is Keyword Stuffing?
- Useful terms for serious copywriters!
- What is the Ideal Frequency of a Keyword for Content Optimization?
- Why Keyword Stuffing Hurts Your Website Rating & earning prospects?
- Examples of Keyword Stuffing
- How To Avoid Keyword Stuffing?
- Is there any website, plugin, software that can help?
- The Bottom Line
What Exactly is Keyword Stuffing?
According to Google’s guidelines, keyword stuffing is the practice of excessive & unnatural use of the targeted SEO KW or number in web pages. This leads to over-optimization that mocks the search engine to rank the article on top of the result page. Google considers it as an attempt to manipulate the site rankings in search results.
For your landing page, key terms & phrases will act as a magnet to pull the customers and achieve maximum visitors.
There are multiple ways to add the KW (keyword) to the website: regular content updates, good metadata, and fitting KW through the links.
The practice of filing articles with KW to get a higher ranking may seem successful for a time being. Surely, but not forever.
Those websites attract the penalty that fluffing the content with key terms. Also, keyword stuffing is an unethical SEO practice that can invite malicious activities on the website.
Inserting a lot of optimizing words in the content can drop the ranking, and may break the website’s reputation.
Now, what we have said, is all that is commonly perceived by Experts. But is there anything clearly indicated by Search Engines?
Coming to Search Engines, let’s try to understand them.
- Until 2003, there was no clear-cut indication from Google on the Artificial way of using keywords for better ranking. In November 2003, ‘Florida Algorithm update’ brought Keyword Stuffing on the map for the very first time. And it penalized many websites using it as a tool.
- Brandy update in 2004, for the first time, introduced another crucial factor – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). That made the Google search more relevant, as now it is linked to many related and similar meaning keywords.
- Penguin update of April 2012, again acted heavily on spamming sites, using keyword stuffing as a Black-hat Technique.
- Panda 4.1 update of September 2014, was the first major update that targeted the over-optimization by using keywords in Title, Meta Data, Tags, and Body. Moreover, it also contained the refinement for better local search.
- BERT 2019 update added a new chapter of NLP. And again discourage the excessive use of keywords and promote the naturally written content. This was for the betterment of the user experience.
In its famous 2014 update, Bing strictly notices URL keyword stuffing.
Useful terms for serious copywriters!
While understanding the term ‘Keyword Stuffing’, you must also be aware of the following terms:
TD-IDF (Term-frequency/Inverse document frequency)
TD-IDF is an important but old content metric, used by Google to calculate the ‘relative use of a word‘ or ‘undervalued‘ in the document in comparison with the whole set of available documents on the web, mails, and many other libraries. It is an important calculation for information retrieval and text mining. It unearths the keywords of importance, which are of low or high competition.
Also, you need to understand that TD-IDF is just one of the techniques used for determining the relevant words on a page. Search engines are using many other metrics evolved over a period of time.
Hence, there is no need for an over-emphasis on TD-IDF in determining its use in page ranking. But, surely its importance needs to be understood by serious copywriters.
These tools can help you with semantic analysis, co-occurring terms, and close variants for the page.
Latent Semantic Indexing is an important factor for search engines.
In earlier days search engines considered only the ‘exact term or keyword’, for indexing the content. For example, search results for ‘Artificial Intelligence’ will list the only content, which uses the exact term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in page elements. That was the reason, webpages used to bombard the URL & page elements with key terms & manipulate the ranking system.
Whoever was using the technique, was placed higher in ranking.
Later search engines realized, that users are not getting the appropriate content for searches. Further, understood that semantically related words, terms, and phrases are also very important factors in an in-depth assessment of pages.
That was the reason LSI keywords were recognized and considered. Therefore, LSI became important.
Mind it, LSI terms are not just synonyms but truly related to the key terms. For instance, LSI key terms related to ‘Artificial Intelligence’ could be AI, machine learning, algorithm, BOT, robotics, chatbot, deep learning, NLP, etc.
LSI helps in making searches more relevant. Sites with a healthy use of LSI key terms and phrases, rewarded by search engines.
But when it became an intentional strategy to find out and use all LSI key terms and pour them into the content, it is also keyword stuffing.
White-hat & Black-hat Techniques and why strictly not to use BHT
Unethical practices or Black-hat techniques may help you in the short term but ultimately such sites get penalized heavily. There are cases, where such sites got blocked by search engines. White-hat or healthy SEO practices gradually improve the trust of search engines in your site/s. Users also identify the malpractices and consider such sites unreliable.
Excessive & unnatural use of key terms and phrases is a Black hat technique. Hence, don’t do that.
Always keep in mind, that you as a website owner or copywriters create the online stuff for humans. Real humans are interacting with the content or website. Hence, try to consistently improve the user experience. Excessive use of popular and related words will negatively impact the readability and UX.
If a visitor stays on the web page for a long time, it shows that he/she is enjoying the interaction with the website as a whole, including readable content.
What is the Ideal Frequency of a Keyword for Content Optimization?
There is no ideal percentage or frequency defined for keyword stuffing!
However, experts advise that the density of the KW in an article for SEO optimization should range between 0.5%-2.5%. For instance, if you are writing the content of word length 1000, then ideally, you can use the particular KW in the article 20-25 times not more than that.
Most importantly, search engines have clearly indicated many times that they reward the following types of web content.
- Original or unique
- Natural and engaging
- That gives an in-depth understanding
While you keep working on writing useful, engaging, and easily readable content, most of the time it solves the purpose.
But there are instances, when keyword frequency may stretch a bit. In that case, just try to maintain it under the recommended range.
Then you not only prevent your website from Google penalty but also maintain the healthy parameters for the site. This is why it is crucial to maintain the KW density.
However, if you insert KW, much more than the healthy permissible limit, then it will be considered spamdexing.
This not only affects your website rating but also increases your chances of getting a penalty from Google, sooner than later. Whether the KW is visible to the readers or hidden, both ways, it impacts your ranking.
Thus, you have to be smarter and put your energy and be creative & mindful while writing the content.
You may also check – Best Online Keyword Density Checker tools & Software.
Why Keyword Stuffing Hurts Your Website Rating & earning prospects?
If you have been involved in the eCommerce business and SEO website for a while, you need to consider over-using of SEO key terms a big no. However, this is the only tactic where many business clients fail and end up using it. But the time has changed, and Google penalizes websites with over-optimization through key terms & phrases.
# Unnatural use of key terms & phrases is Bad for Users
This is the biggest mistake that most business website owners make. They think stuffing the content with the key terms/phrases can help to rank them better. But over-utilizing of the key terms and phrases cannot target the readers. Which eventually drops the customer’s value and affects your ranking.
# Damage Brand Image
If you overutilize content with the ranking words, then it surely damages the brand’s reputation. The people don’t like content that has been overutilized & repetitive KW and long phrases. It shows that the organization is lacking in even creating quality and engaging content.
Eventually, it results in dropping the trust which in turn drops your rank from the SERP.
If you can’t handle the words in order to articulate well and convey a message properly, then what about the products they are making?
# Penalty from Google
Firstly, you must understand that if search engines like Google & Bing can’t deliver quality & relevant results. Then why the hell you’ll waste your time searching day and night?
It’s pure no-nonsense business. Right!
The fact is, these days, Google doesn’t like those content pieces that are artificially filled with KW. They will make the website guilty, and chances are you may end up having the penalty. This eventually drops your rating from the Google page. In some cases, Google removes the page/site with stuffed key terms for deindexing the website.
# Loss of Users
If Google notices that the writeup is overstuffed with KW to achieve the top rank on the search engine, they drop the site rank. Moreover, lower the rank simply means much lesser users & visitors.
Even the users lose interest in those websites that have overstuffed content.
Examples of Keyword Stuffing
Keep in mind that Google never lights up by saying “No Keyword Stuffing.” This is the only reason why your website is in big trouble. In that case, you may get a penalty for over-using these key terms/phrases, without even realizing it.
Then how would you decide whether you’ve excessively used the targeted key terms or not?
Google has given a few examples of KWS:
However, examples of keyword stuffing given by Google are very simple, and surely you should not expect Google to list all types including complex ones.
The internal algorithm system of Google is very smart, hence don’t try to manipulate it.
Here are a few signs that show your content is overstuffed:
Such signs may include the following:
- The key term & phrases ratio is way too high in the content.
- Content is not in readable tone naturally due to excessive use of SEO keyword/s.
- There is a lack of complementary keywords and other synonyms.
- While you think that you have produced excellent content and steady traffic is not growing anymore!
- Probably you have used KW in an artificial manner, considering only the SEO factor & it lacks flow. Probably such articles are punished by Google.
However, the constant decline and steady traffic can result due to two reasons. Firstly, you may get a penalty due to the overutilization of key terms. Secondly, the targeted audience turned off due to overstuffing which affects the readability.
The keyword stuffing examples can be categorized into the following types:
#1. Visible Keyword Stuffing
Visible KWS is unintentional. For instance, if you have the website of kitchen appliances, then you may be using the KW ‘appliances’ unintentionally. You may not be aware of the visible KWS. However, if you put the same appliance word in this form, “Best kitchen appliances,” in the first paragraph and second, in the end, it may be intentional keyword stuffing.
Seo keyword stuffing and overuse of the visible KW make it obvious you are dumping extra key terms in content and creating irrelevancy.
#1.1. Unnatural Repeating
For instance, if you write an article on the Best Vacuum cleaner in 1000 words and write the best vacuum cleaner more than 30-40 times, it is KWS.
Unnaturally repeating the same key terms/phrases can also break your ranking on Google. Some website holders use one specific KW multiple times in a short content piece. Remember that readers can see the repeating word and may find it annoying to read.
#1.2 Inserting words in Text Blocks
Another common example is interesting text blocks that constantly repeat the entire article and create link spamming. Overstuffing similar words like this can create a break in the content, which is not healthy for the readers to create unnecessary text blocks.
#1.3. Over Optimized Keywords from Technical aspect of SEO
Another common example is technical-based. In this, the focus is on the technical Seo instead of the content marketing. It is also known as spamdexing. However, it may not be the direct or visible keyword stuffing example.
But if you are looking to stuff content with these kinds of key terms, it may block the links, which can lead to a penalty.
#2. Invisible Keyword Stuffing
In an attempt to befool the readers, some sites over-utilize selected words so that they are not visible to the website visitors. This kind of stuffing is done in the following ways.
- “Hiding” words with the text of the same color as the website background.
- Insert the keywords in the form of loaded text on the page’s code.
- Use irrelevant keywords in the comment box, meta tags, and alt tags.
Attempting to befool the Google algorithm can be riskier today as it may affect your ranking and destroy your brand image. Other common examples are as follows.
#2.1. Hidden Keywords
Content creators think of themselves as smarter enough to hide KW using the same background and text color. Though they may be smarter enough to hide that stuffed key term from the readers’ eyes, Google can still catch those hidden keywords.
So, instead of hiding key terms, try to use the accurate density so that Google does not penalty you for this malpractice.
#2.2. Keyword Stuffing in Website HTML Code
This is also a form of hiding the key terms/phrases smartly, but Google still finds it. Some content creators also hide the targeted words in the HTML code of the website page, and this is eventually caught by the search engine when they analyze your website and index the web page.
#2.3. Grounded in Comment Section
The KW can also be hidden in the alt tags, comment sections, and meta-description. The purpose is to rank the website on the search engine result page this way. However, such key terms & phrases are still visible to search bots.
#2.4. Intentional use of key-words in Phone Numbers Lists
The repeated key terms listed in the phone numbers without substantial added values are also a form of it. This is also a way to hide the KW but always fails when Google crawls the web pages.
#2.5. To Target two pages from similar KW
Website owners also hide targetted words by using synonyms and repeated words that target two different pages. This may also be caught by Google and index later.
How To Avoid Keyword Stuffing?
No matter what type and example you pick to hide the KW smartly, you will eventually fail to impress Google with overstuffed keywords. This will lead to a significant impact on the ranking of your website.
In that case, you need to avoid the overstuffing of the keywords.
A few ways help to avoid the keyword stuffing, that we have listed here.
1. Write Long Content
This is one of the best ways to avoid overstuffing and repeated use of key terms. If you are using long-tail key phrases in the content, then try to write the content of more than 2000 words. This helps to maintain the ideal density of the KW in the content and makes your content readable and Google-friendly.
Moreover, readers also find it easier to read the content, and chances are there your website will rank better on Google. Additionally, your site gets saved from penalty and dropping of the rank.
2. Add keywords to the Page Elements in appropriate manner
The second best way to fit keywords naturally in the content is to insert them when optimizing the page. You can add it at the right place in page elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, page titles in the beginning and at the end of the text.
You can also add the relevant key terms/phrases in the image alt tags, subheadings. But don’t forget to maintain the density.
3. Use Supportive or Secondary Keywords
Secondary key terms & phrases are always helpful in optimizing the content by maintaining the ideal density. So, make sure to include secondary or supportive KW and distribute them in the entire content organically. You can also choose the long-form of target words and phrases to maintain the ideal density.
Long-tail keywords bring variation in the content and make it readable without overstuffing. In this way, the KW falls in the article in a natural way.
4. Maintain the Key-word Density
No matter what content you are writing, do not repeat the KW irrelevantly in the article. The ideal density of the keyword is assumed at 2-3% in the article. So, try to maintain the ideal density to avoid penalties from Google.
5. Focus on One Search Intent
Once you get to know about the website page topic, define the intent to target the audience. Select a single SEO key term with the respect of the target audience and insert it into the content. Here you need to follow the rule of ‘one web page, one search target’.
This means you can devote your single page to one type of audience. Never try to fit multiple keywords to target two different pages at one time, and it will only affect the search intent and may result in battling with your website pages to steal the top place on SERP. This type of approach is also known as cannibalization.
Is there any website, plugin, software that can help?
Which can detect it automatically & suggest how to avoid and overcome it?
Following tools can be used to avoid and minimize keyword stuffing:
Web Auditor by SEO Power Suite: SEO Power Suite is a fully-fledged & most comprehensive SEO package. SEOPowersuite includes four tools – Website Auditor, Rank Tracker, SEO SpyGlass, and Link Assistant. The best part is, you can try it for free. It is downloadable software for your desktop. There are three ways you can use ‘Website Auditor’:
- Start with free access (for life) of only SEO Power Suite, at a time you can optimize any single content/URL. But you can not save it for later. That’s the only biggest drawback.
- Buy only Website Auditor with three options, free, Professional & Enterprise.
- Buy SEO Powersuite complete package (including Website Auditor) with two options – Professional & Enterprise.
- Copywritely: Paid tool. Copywritely specifically provide you tools to to optimize the content. It helps to find the instances of Keyword Stuffing, Uniqueness, Readability, Grammar, KW check and Redundant Phrases.
- Yoast SEO Plugin: Great easy-to-use plugin, which can tell you two related things – frequency of words and analysis for Targeted keywords. It doesn’t provide the KW density and stuffing automatically.
- Market Muse: It is an AI-powered tool. In the ‘Optimize’ section, one can easily optimize the content either by URL submission or by pasting the text content. It provides hundreds of suggestions to keep the keyword within the suggested frequency. Moreover, it also provides the content score and targeted score and competition URLs with the score. It is free to use, however, paid plans offer and more enhanced platform for making content research, brief, planning, and optimization.
The Bottom Line
Over-optimizing through leveraging the keywords is an old practice that we intentionally and unintentionally follow to rank the website on the top of the search engine result page. But a lot of users are unaware of the fact that it affects the rating and drops the ranking.
So, we hope after reading the post, you get to know what keyword stuffing is and how you can avoid it by following these ways. This is eventually helpful in boosting your rank.