As a blogger, you must’ve heard this a thousand times: to rank well on Google, you need to optimize your content for the target keyword.
But, how many times should you use that target keyword? Most people get confused when it comes to using the keyword properly. They end up shoving as many keywords as possible, making the content boring and far from natural.
This practice is called keyword stuffing, a malicious technique followed by most bloggers who seek a shortcut to rank on Google.
While this practice has long been considered the bane of white hat SEO, most business owners still follow it due to lack of knowledge or they just want to boost their visibility.
However, instead of getting a positive result, most of them end up hurting their position on the search engines.
Do you know why? Let’s find out!
While reading this article, you will learn about keyword stuffing, why it’s considered the worst SEO practice, and how you can avoid it.
What is Keyword Stuffing?
As the name suggests, keyword stuffing is filling up a page with the target keyword to manipulate its ranking on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
In most cases, bloggers, especially those who practice black hat SEO, use the same keyword over and over again.
The end result? A page full of keywords (both relevant and irrelevant) that impacts the readability of that copy.
There are different types of visible keyword stuffing that bloggers tend to use:
- Unnecessary repetition of words and phrases
- Including words that are out of context
- Using irrelevant keywords
- Hiding keywords in the page
Check the following example for better understanding:
“Are you looking for breathable nail polishes? We have a huge collection of breathable nail polishes in different shades for every skin tone. Click here to buy your desired breathable nail polishes.”
This 3 lined paragraph uses the keyword “breathable nail polishes” three times just to make this content visible to its readers. Now imagine reading an article with 1500-2000 words written like this. Would you like to read that? I bet you won’t.
While keyword stuffing may help you to rank high, it may not bring you enough traffic. It’s because when readers enter the site, they find the content boring and leave immediately.
Reasons Why Keyword Stuffing is Bad for Your Business
If you read the above-mentioned example, you already know why this practice should be avoided – it creates a horrible user experience.
Your content must serve, engage, and educate your readers. When you stuff the article with unnecessary keywords, you fail to serve that purpose. You end up creating an article that sounds robotic and less informative.
People hate to read such articles. When they find something like that, they leave the site, which ultimately increases the bounce rate and drives potential customers away from your business.
Besides, there’s a high chance your site will be penalized if you follow this practice. Google algorithm is getting smarter day by day, making keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO tactics obsolete.
No matter how smartly you use such malicious techniques to rank higher on the search results, Google can recognize them with its updated algorithm.
After finding that your site is riddled with SEO hacks that go against its policies, the search engine giant can take necessary action against you, such as de-indexing or removing your website from the search results.
Since this practice is widely condemned by search engines, do not opt for this option if you want to protect yourself from Google’s penalty.
How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Now you’ve understood that loading up your content with keywords won’t work anymore, you want to fix that issue.
As a business owner, you don’t want Google to penalize you. Hence you need to use the keywords in the right way that goes with Google’s quality guideline.
Here are some steps you need to follow to prevent keyword stuffing from ruining your business.
Think About The Topic Instead of Keywords
This is one of the key reasons why stuffing your content with keywords creates an awful user experience.
Bloggers who practice keyword stuffing tend to end up with content focusing more on the keywords instead of the topic. Such articles are full of unnecessary words that don’t fulfill the user intent.
When readers enter the site, they don’t find the content useful. Your bounce rate increases and it hurts the ranking.
Besides, Google pays more attention to the topic of an article than its target keywords.
When you focus on a topic, you can end up with an article meaningful enough to impress both Google and the audiences. It can also help your article to rank for multiple keywords.
Write for The Audiences, Not The Search Engines
Do you know why most bloggers choose to cram their content with keywords? It’s because they write it to rank on Google, not for their audiences.
As a blogger, you must focus on your readers’ requirements and their comfort rather than ranking on Google. When you give more priority on ranking, you end up putting irrelevant keywords just to make it optimized and more visible in the search pages.
But what about the readers? Google loves what its users love. When it finds out that a website lacks traffic even after being on the top of the search results, it automatically reduces the ranking.
So, if you want to make Google happy, keep your readers happy as well.
Assign One Target Keyword to Each Page
When you start optimizing your page, choose one primary keyword per content. Make sure the keyword you choose is popular, has low competition, and relevant to your topic.
Do not use one primary keyword for multiple pages of your website. Doing so will make your pages of content competing against each other, making Google confused when it comes to presenting the search results.
To rank on Google and keep your readers away from getting confused, assign a unique target keyword to each of your pages. It will send a clear message to the search engines what your content is about.
You may also like: What Are Organic SEO Services?
Don’t Overuse Your Target Keyword
When you’re writing an article, it’s important that you use the target keyword throughout the content. But exactly how many times should you use that keyword? Is there any magic number?
Experts say your keyword density should be around 2% in the entire content. To be on the safe side, you can keep it below 2%. Don’t overuse the keywords, otherwise, your article will look unnatural and robotic.
You can easily check the keyword density in WordPress using the Yoast SEO Plugin. This tool can tell you if you’re overusing the target keyword and help keep your copy within the right range.
Besides, it will help you with the overall on-page SEO optimization.
Use The Variations of Keywords
Using some variations of your focus keyword such as long-tail keywords, synonyms, etc. are great ways to tell the search engines that your article is relevant to the keyword.
Search engines use other terms and phrases on a webpage to get context while crawling the website. So, you can use these variations of a keyword to tell search engines what your content is about so that it can rank your page.
When you use synonyms or long-tail keywords, you also help Google to identify the answers to some specific questions in your content. It’s also beneficial for you since your article can get featured in Google’s “people also ask” section.
Keywords Must be in The Right Place Elements
There’s no doubt that you must focus on your audiences while placing keywords in your content. But, you should also think about Google when optimizing it.
Unlike humans, Google reads your content by looking at certain elements on the page. It helps the search engine to recognize what your content/page is about.
To properly optimize the page, use your primary keywords in the following sections:
- Page title
- Meta description
- Subheadings (at least one)
- In at least one image alt-tag
- Within the first 100 words
- Near the conclusion
Also, don’t forget to use some variations of keywords throughout these elements.
Don’t Forget to Check On-Page SEO
You might have gone through the checklist to create fully optimized content. However, it’s still possible that you have missed some opportunities to make your article more appealing to Google.
To avoid that mistake, always run a report to check on-page SEO after publishing your content. Doing so is quite easy. Just enter the URL and target keyword in an on-page SEO checker, and run the report to get tips on how to improve it for more traffic.
As you can see, ranking on Google requires great content with smart optimization. You can’t just pick a keyword and use it over and over again, hoping your page rank on SERP.
It requires proper research and strategy for a page to rank above its competitors. That’s why you should improve your SEO strategy and avoid keyword stuffing at any cost.
Sujan Sarkar is the Co-founder of OnelittleWeb, a leading SEO agency specializing in helping businesses improve their online presence and search engine rankings.