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Is keyword stuffing "effective?"

Is keyword stuffing "effective?"

I just received this question from a client.

I notice some business website have all these key words (see below). Is that effective?

My exact response:

It's a hack. Considered spam. Maybe effective in the short-term, but search engines can get upset about it. Do you like when you see that? Does it provide a good experience for you? It is relevant, value-added content that serves you, the reader? These are the things that search engine providers try to consider in their algorithms.

It's not the first time I've been asked this and it probably won't be the last. It definitely won't be the last time people ask about hacking techniques like this. I'm sure you've come across this and maybe wondered the same thing. This particular technique is known as keyword stuffing and it's frowned upon. You should avoid it.

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is putting a keyword phrase, or several, multiple times within a webpage, to the extent where whatever is on the page doesn't even make much sense because of the repetitive keywords. This is done so that the keywords are visible to search engine, with the idea that it will help it rank better in Google.

Hmm... Aside from the little bit about "making sense," it sounds a bit like that might actually be helpful. You want your site to rank high so that people find it, right?

Keyword Stuffing Is NOT An Effective SEO Technique

Remember the old adage: If you have to ask if it something is right, it probably isn't. Keyword stuffing is not the right strategy. Even if doing the right thing isn't your concern (I know it is), rest assured that it is also not effective. Here are three reasons why you should avoid keyword stuffing:

Reason #1: Your visitors won't like it.

When users search for certain keywords and end up on your site, they want to see those keywords on the page in a useful format. They don't want to end up there due to hidden text located in the footer. Hidden text and keyword stuffing often make for a very poor user experience for the user.

If visitors don't like what they see they won't stay. Visitors who leave don't convert. Search engines try to reward sites that write for you as the reader because they are in the business of providing relevant results to you. Trying to find loopholes and build your site around these them to get a bump in rankings is not a good long-term strategy. In the best case scenario, your site content is bad which results in visitors who do not stick around. In the worst case scenario, you get blacklisted. It is a shortsighted strategy to forego conversion for acquisition.

Reason #2: Search engines providers can punish you for utilizing shady techniques.

Google and other search engines have published their webmaster guidelines for you. Follow these and you'll be fine. Ignoring them or actively acting against them can result in a manual action that results in your site being hidden from search results.

Reason #3: It doesn't even work.

One of the most obvious and unfortunate spamming techniques, keyword stuffing, involves littering repetitions of keyword terms or phrases into a page in order to make it appear more relevant to the search engines. The thought behind this - that increasing the number of times a term is mentioned can considerably boost a page's ranking - is generally false. Studies looking at thousands of the top search results across different queries have found that keyword repetitions play an extremely limited role in boosting rankings, and have a low overall correlation with top placement.

This isn't to say you should not utilize keywords in your site -- you most definitely should have a keyword strategy -- but that you need to commit to a long-term strategy of building a lot of good, honest content for your reader around your target keywords.

How To Avoid Keyword Stuffing

It is pretty easy to avoid keyword stuffing because it is generally not something you stumble into accidentally. If you did it, you probably actively decided to do it and ignored the Is this right? warning signs in your gut. That said, if you want to make sure you're good, take these two steps:

Step #1: Read your content out loud and see if it sounds natural.

If you want a quick method on how to check to see if your webpage is a little bit too keyword happy, read your text out loud, as it will often sound very unnatural. If it sounds fine to you or to those you read it too, it should be fine.

Step #2: Sign up for and install Google Webmaster Tools.

Go sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and install it on your site. It will regularly crawl your site and let you know if there are any issues so that you can proactive about taking care of them.

Do you want help with optimizing your site? Get in touch. We'll make sure everything is clean and tidy.

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