Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed a lot over the last 20 years, and if you’re still using outdated strategies like keyword stuffing, Google and other search engines might be penalizing you for it. It’s true that keyword stuffing used to be a viable strategy for ranking high in search engine results. Today, though, the practice might damage your rankings as well as your reputation. Learn why keyword stuffing isn’t a good idea, and what you should do instead.
What Is Keyword Stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is the practice of shoehorning a particular keyword into a webpage or article as many times as possible. This creates sites full of stilted, unreadable content. If you’ve ever stumbled across a site that mechanically repeated the same word or phrase every sentence or two, you’ve seen keyword stuffing at work.
In the past, search engines couldn’t tell the difference between spam and genuine content, so websites stuffed with keywords tended to rank well. Recently, however, search engines have gotten a lot smarter. Thanks to algorithm updates, engines can now tell when a page is stuffed with keywords, and they tend to penalize these sites; after all, no one wants to sort through pages of spam in their search results. Unfortunately, many webmasters don’t realize that keyword stuffing no longer works, and they continue prioritizing keyword density over their content’s usefulness.
The Consequences of Keyword Stuffing
Long gone are the days when repeating the same word or phrase would help you rank well. Keyword stuffing isn’t just ineffective now; it also hurts your site. Google and other search engines are wise to this trick, and they lower the rankings of sites that try to game the system by overusing keywords. In fact, if you abuse keywords enough, search engines may decide to remove your site from their index altogether, making it impossible for anyone to find you.
Forcing keywords into your writing is also a turnoff for your human readers, who ultimately make or break your website’s success. No one is going to stay on your site long enough to read a page of keyword-stuffed copy, much less link to it or share it on social media. Between the high bounce rate and the fact that no one will link to your content, your site won’t stand a chance of ranking well.
A Better SEO Strategy
To win at SEO in 2017, you’ve got to play the long game. Shortcuts don’t work anymore, and sites that human readers find useful and relevant are the ones that make it to the first page of results. To rank higher, ask yourself how you can provide more value to your visitors.
Providing more value is, of course, a broad directive, and the way you go about it will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your business. Nevertheless, this principle holds true for everyone who wants to rank better in search engine results. Make your visitors happy, and they’ll help you build your site’s authority and search ranking. It won’t happen overnight, but neither does any other type of business success.
Does this mean keywords don’t matter anymore? Not at all. It’s still essential to do your keyword research and incorporate relevant terms and phrases into your content. That’s how search engines know what topic your site covers. However, the quality of your keywords is much more important than how many times you use them. Google only needs to see a term once or twice to figure out what your website is about. Many top-ranking sites only use their main keywords a few times, so they’re clearly doing something right.
Keyword stuffing is an outdated strategy that no longer helps you rank high in search engines. In fact, it could cause Google and other engines to bury your site behind dozens of your competitors or remove you from the index altogether. Instead of keyword stuffing, your best bet for SEO success is to use many strong keywords throughout your site. After that, focus on creating valuable content that builds your reputation in your field.