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What is keyword stuffing and why to avoid it

High rankings for your site and for your landing pages means that more users find you, visit your pages, and hopefully become customers. There are a number of ways you can look to achieve this, including relevant and regularly updated content, good metadata, and relevant links.

But the main tactic we use when we are optimizing SEO elements of content marketing is to use keywords and phrases that reflect what potential customers use when they search for products or services. Is it as simple, though, as just inserting lots of those words? No. One thing that can cause real problems, whether you’re talking about ecommerce or SaaS content marketing, is keyword stuffing. But what exactly is it and why does it cause issues?

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is when you use the same keywords (or phrases) over and over again in your website’s content. It is usually easy to notice and will put readers off. There are two types of keyword stuffing:

1. Visible.

  • Unnecessary repetition of words and phrases throughout all your content. For example, if you were selling the best virtual meeting platform, you would want to be cautious how often you used words like ‘video’ or ‘best’. 

  • Use of words or phrases that are not relevant to the topic, product, or service.

  • Using the same word repeatedly in a single piece of content.

However not all stuffing is visible. If you also stuff keywords in your CMS’s (content management system) backend, then that can also be highlighted by search engines. 

2. Invisible.

  • Trying to hide text by using a white font on a white background. While users may not see this, crawlers on search engines will. 

  • Repetition of words and phrases in your alt text.

  • Concealing repeated use of words in the code of your webpage.

  • Overusing any words or phrases in your meta and comment tags. 

So, there are a number of situations where a website can be accused of keyword stuffing. But does it really cause any harm? 

Why Keyword Stuffing is Bad

If you have been involved in SEO and marketing work for a while, you probably remember a time when not only was keyword stuffing acceptable but it was also a common tactic. As with many things, time has moved on and there are several problems it can now cause. 

  • User experience. Much of what we now do focuses on providing a positive customer journey and experience. If you create content stuffed with keywords, then you are focusing more on rankings than readers. 

  • Penalties. Search engines now dislike keyword stuffing. So, if your site is identified as being guilty of this, you could face penalties on the relevant pages or even on the site as a whole. In some cases, Google may even decide to remove your site from SERPs (search engine results pages) entirely. 

  • Loss of users. If users see content that is aimed more at increasing rankings than informing and engaging them, they will simply vote with their feet (or in this case, a mouse click). If a user reads an article on Chatwork alternatives and sees multiple repetition of words, they will look elsewhere. 

  • Brand damage. If you stuff your content with keywords, you may cause brand damage. If people begin to associate your brand with poor content stuffed with repetitive words and phrases, they will lose trust and confidence in you. 

So What Should You Do?

Ok, so we now know keyword stuffing is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. But we still want to get better rankings, so what should we be doing instead?

  • Relevance. The first thing you should do is identify what words and phrases are relevant to your organization. The easiest way to do that is to look at your competitors who are ranking high in any search results. If you are discussing cloud file storage, look at how other companies offering that service present their content and use SEO terms.  

  • Aim high. You want to be on the first page of any search result. Over 25% of people click the first result they see on Google. After that, the CTR reduces for each position. 

Make a list of all the words and phrases that will help towards that and also include variations and synonyms of the words.

  • Engagement. Google no longer looks only at what words and phrases you use in your content, they also look at your engagement metrics. You need to know how to implement SEO properly while creating engaging content.  

  • Variation. Different pages serve different purposes and different users have different needs. Don’t overuse technical jargon unless it is a specialized page. Keep your use of language appropriate to what the page’s purpose and audience is. 

The Takeaway

The last thing you want to happen is for your site to be penalized for poor practices. Your customer is your primary focus and you want that to be true across your business model, from engaging them with good content to supporting customerswith great service. 

Be cautious and vigilant when carrying out SEO work. Overloading your content with certain words and phrases may seem like a quick fix, but it is more likely to cause you serious problems and could lead to losing customers.

BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

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