Keywords are a gateway between users and your content. But sometimes they can get a bit out of hand.

The theory used to be: The more keywords, the better.

And this approach led to keyword-stuffed, barely intelligible content like this:

Search engine optimisation keywords are used to rank a page higher in a search engine. This means using more search engine optimisation keywords will increase your rank and get your website more traffic through the use of search engine optimisation keywords.

Good grief. Not great, is it?

So why are some SEO agencies tempted by it?

 

Because there are benefits to keyword stuffing (well, kind of)

Packing your website full of keywords is one way to tell search engines you’ve got the relevant content users are after. This can lead to a higher ranking in search results (and more new clicks).

Sounds pretty good, right?

Well maybe, but only in the very short term.

Here’s the full story:

SEO Stairs

Essentially, if readers are unsatisfied with your content, search engines are going to realise it. And they’re going to penalise you for it.

Sidenote: If readers are clicking on your SERP listing only to be disappointed by low-value content full of keyword stuffing, this doesn’t do much good for your brand image either.

 

What does Google have to say about keyword stuffing?

Irrelevant Keywords

Image sourced from Google Support.

Their verdict is pretty clear.

But just in case you’re not convinced, let’s talk about the negatives.

 

The Negatives of Keyword Stuffing (aka Bad User Experience)

Keywords are like scrumptious fresh pastries in a bakery window. Search engines and users will see them, start drooling, and then likely walk straight in. But if you’re not baking your scones and cookies naturally with quality ingredients, people will notice it with that very first bite. And you’ll never see them again.

If your content is just being treated as a platform for keywords, people simply won’t read it, which means they also won’t buy what you’re selling.

What users do want is sweet, easy-to-digest content that gives them the information they’re looking for – or maybe the information they didn’t know they were looking for. This is good marketing for the long term.

Strong content will eventually assist your rankings, whereas negative user experience will ultimately make them drop.

 

More Negatives (Karma)

Search engines are evolving every year. Their job is to get users where they need to go. This means the quality of your content is paramount.

The former head of Google’s web spam team has said they’re training GoogleBot (their search bot software) to be smarter with identifying websites that host an unrealistic amount of keywords and track those who abuse SEO. So if you’ve been stuffing your keywords under the rug, you need to clean up your act.

 

What’s the perfect amount of keywords then?

Well, the goal is to balance relevant keywords with quality content. After you’ve identified your keywords, you’ll need to integrate them into your content naturally.

A keyword rate of 2-5% is a healthy target.

However, this is more of a rough guide just to make sure they are a part of your content.

Here are some places you can place your keywords.

  • Meta Title – This is a good place to include your focus keyword, or perhaps a long-tail keyword on the same topic.
  • Meta Description – This should be quick and easy to read, so keep keywords short and your sentences to the point.
  • Content – Search engines will rate keywords in headings and sub-headings higher, so these are great places for a few keywords. Throughout the body copy, you’ll need to be more creative with their placement and use a variety of LSI keywords (don’t just repeat the main keyword over and over).

When it comes to your content, you should be writing for your users – not trying to cheat the bots with keyword stuffing. So make sure you’re not writing just to meet a keyword quota. Keep them in mind, of course, but be strategic with their placement, not generous. This way you can focus on creating quality content that users will actually enjoy and learn from.

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