Using Keywords Wisely: Stuffing Is for Turkeys
SEO has long been a moving target, with Google and other industry leaders constantly adjusting the algorithms that determine where in the search results a website shows up. In the past, keywords were king, and websites could benefit by stuffing the copy on their site with as many relevant (and not so relevant) keywords as they could fit in. This trend gave rise to a glut of low-quality content that was written far more for search engines than it was for human readers. Over the past few years, Google recognized the negative consequences of keyword stuffing and has taken action to improve their algorithms. Instead of keywords, the new king of SEO is high-quality, relevant content.
Google’s Focus on Quality Content
In 2011, Google released a new search results ranking algorithm called Google Panda. The goal of Google Panda was to target low-quality sites that were using keyword stuffing to drive their site up in the search results and instead give preference to sites that published valuable, high-quality content.
While the specifics of Google’s ranking algorithms are largely unknown, we do know that it targets poorly written, keyword-stuffed content and instead prioritizes high-quality content that contains an appropriate amount of relative keywords. Increasingly, websites that throw up countless pages of poor content stuffed with an entire laundry list of keywords continue to miss out on SEO benefits, and are even seeing a drastic drop in their rankings as punishment.
So how do you determine if your keywords are relevant, sparse, and inserted into quality content? Here’s a brief description of what each of those qualifications looks like:
Keywords you choose must be relevant to your website’s purpose and the content that is published on it. For example, if you are running a website that sells pet supplies and publishes content for pet owners, any keyword pertaining to pets and pet supplies such as “best dog collars” or “how to train a dog to sit” would be relevant in the eyes of Google.
Most SEO experts agree that a one-size-fits-all keyword density does not exist, and you’ll see recommendations ranging anywhere from 1% all the way up to 10%. What’s important is to make sure that your keywords are sparse enough that they do not detract from the quality of your content. Ideally, keywords will only be noticeable to a search engine and not to a human reader. If your content contains so many keywords that it sounds poorly written then your keyword usage probably isn’t sparse enough.
- Quality Content
This qualification is perhaps the most subjective of the three. Ideally, the content on your website will be well written, will be free of typos, and will offer real value to your readers. Your content should answer questions that people who are vising your page are asking. If it does, the results will show up in your engagement, and search engines will be more likely to consider the content on your site to be worthy of showing up higher in the search results.
Keywords Are Still Important
Though Google’s ever-evolving algorithm is meant to target websites that take advantage of keyword stuffing techniques, keywords are still highly important from an SEO standpoint, and websites can still benefit a great deal from sprinkling their content with relevant keywords. However, Google Panda dictates that those keywords must be relevant, sparse, and inserted into high-quality content in order for them to be useful.
For example, a site that publishes well-written, valuable content that keeps visitors engaged, keeps them coming back to the site, and encourages them to share links to the content on their own sites, will still see SEO benefits from including relevant keywords in that content. With ample research, website owners can choose relevant keywords and rank for the keywords they choose, so long as they are not engaging in keyword stuffing.
So what exactly does keyword stuffing look like? Consider two paragraphs, both targeting the keyword “essential oils for sale” and see if you can spot the one that is keyword stuffing.
Paragraph #1: “At Quality Essential Oils, our essential oils for sale represent the best essential oils for sale that you will find. These essential oils are all 100% pure, high quality, and perfect for a wide variety of purposes. If you are searching for essential oils for sale, then the essential oils for sale offered by Quality Essential Oils offer the perfect solution. Be sure to shop our essential oils for sale today!”
Paragraph #2: “At Quality Essential oils, we have a wide range of essential oils for sale that are perfect for a variety of purposes. These high-quality essential oils are all 100% pure and are therapeutic grade. Best of all, they are more affordable than any other essential oils on the market. Finding high-quality essential oils for sale online can sometimes be tricky, but Quality Essential Oils makes the process easy!”
You’ll notice that the second paragraph sounds much more natural. It managed to fit the keyword in twice, but if you weren’t looking for it you probably wouldn’t notice it at all. Meanwhile, the first paragraph inserts the keyword too many times in ways that are not natural. It detracts from the quality of the paragraph and is the type of keyword stuffing that Google Panda will target.
What Website Owners Should Do Instead of Keyword Stuffing
Content marketing and SEO have always gone hand in hand. Now, though, with Google putting more and more emphasis on high-quality content, content marketing and SEO are more intertwined than ever before. In light of Google Panda and Google’s ongoing attempts to eliminate keyword stuffing habits, it’s essential for website owners to insert relevant keywords into well-written, valuable content that visitors will share and keep coming back to. By using the WriterAccess Required or Optional keyword field in the order form, website owners can easily include lists of keywords that they have selected and ensure those keywords are inserted into well-written, high-quality content created by professional WriterAccess writers – no keyword stuffing required.
Since John A was a child, writing has been his passion. Through years of exploring this passion, wielding the powers of the written word has become something that he has come to excel at. To date, he has published four science-fiction novels, works full-time as a professional copywriter, and has risen to be one of the most well-reviewed freelance writers across a variety of online platforms. Now, he hopes to continue use these skills to help others produce original, dynamic content that will enhance the quality and success of their own written material and give them a powerful advantage over their competition.