Competition is high to get your content noticed—by your audience and search engines alike. Before Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines got a little “more smarter,” content writers were able to stuff copy full of keywords in an effort to get noticed. And it worked!
Not so anymore. Today, if you use keyword stuffing as a tactic for ranking on results pages, you’ll quickly find it backfire on you. Search engines no longer let you play black hat techniques and expect business owners to play fair with quality content, optimized for search engines.
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What is Keyword Stuffing?
Keyword stuffing means that the writer inserts so many keywords into the copy that it reads like a robot wrote it. It’s written specifically for search engines, rather than the humans who will read it. It’s bad practice and extremely unprofessional.
Let’s say you’re a small florist in Fargo. Location is pretty critical, right? Keyword-stuffed website content would look something like this:
“Fresh Cut Florist in Fargo, ND has been voted best florist in Fargo six years in a row! Our reputation for floral artistry ensures your event has quality arrangements last. If you’re looking for a Fargo florist, give us a call!”
Clearly one of the keywords is “florist in Fargo.” The writer beats us over the head with it, and it’s a huge turn-off. Who’s going to continue reading after these first three sentences? Not me! Copy should have about 1 to 3 percent density of keywords; our example has nearly 20 percent.
What Search Engines Will Do
When search engine optimization was new and businesses were just starting to use the Internet to market their businesses, keyword stuffing worked. It didn’t work for your readers, but search engines tended to rank sites that had a high keyword density.
Stuff keywords into your copy today and the search engines will shut you out. Frankly, so will your audience. No one is going to put up with techniques that draw you to a website, only to find that the content isn’t worth squat.
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Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines want engaging content that readers will actually read. It should provide value to a target audience and encourage visitors to come back for more.
What to do Instead
Yes, keywords are still important. And you’d be a fool to ignore them completely. However there’s an art to writing with keywords in mind.
- Know who your audience is and what words will resonate with them when searching online. There are many keyword search tools available to help you determine the best keywords for ranking in the results pages.
- Write your copy without worrying about including keywords.
- As you proof, count the number of times you used your keywords.
- If the keyword density is below 3 percent (depending on the length of the piece), find natural places where you can include the keywords.
- Be careful of using too many different keywords in one piece. Aim for two to three at the most, depending on the topic and length of the piece.
- Use your keywords in your page (or blog post) meta description. Search engines display these words in bold on the results page, provided the reader used those words in the search.
Ultimately, your best bet is to simply provide interesting content that’s written for your ideal audience to read—not the search engines. After all, your audience is going to pay for your products and services, not Google.