Keyword Stuffing is Bad for SEO: how to Rank Better without it

Keyword stuffing is one of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods aimed to deceive search engines. It consists of overusing some keywords on a page with the aim to manipulate search results (spamdexing) and increase traffic and popularity. 

In the past, this black hat tactic was highly used by web sites trying to boost their search rankings unethically. Today, as most of the black hat practices, SEO experts have questioned the benefits of keyword stuffing. 

Is keyword stuffing good for SEO?

Search engines like Google are now able to understand texts that sound “unnatural” due to the overuse of some keywords. Moreover, pages with unnatural texts cause bad user experience. Thus, the search engine algorithms tend to penalize the ranking of these pages, which are actually considered SPAM. That’s why content writers have demonized the practice of SEO keyword stuffing over the years.

In this article, we discuss this technique and give some advice to rank on search engines better, but avoiding keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing over years

Until some years ago, search engines could not recognize manipulated content. Therefore, many SEO experts and marketers filled pages of the primary keyword to rank better. These deceptive pages were not designed for people, but only to trick crawlers

To avoid bothering users with useless and spammy texts, many websites used to hide stuffed keyword making them invisible for human readers. To do so, web developers could use many techniques. For example, making the text of the same color of the background (such as white text on white background), or positioning it behind a picture. Also, developers could hide the sections containing stuffed texts using appropriate CSS style instructions. 

Nowadays, search engine crawlers are able to recognize such fraud techniques. As a consequence, the crawler’s algorithm may penalize a webpage designed for unfair aims rather than human readers.

An example of keyword stuffing and issues explained

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In the given example, the copy does not sound natural enough. There is a clear objective of overusing some keywords just to increase its frequency. Search engines are able to detect spammy keywords by computing the keyword density of the page. For example, the keyword density of “SEO tool” is excessive. It appears 4 times in a paragraph with only 27 words. This amount is suspicious, and crawlers may penalize your site – or even ban it at all – because of the unhelpful content and unnecessary word repetition.

From the site visitor perspective, it is clear that site owners make use of redundancy intentionally. This may encourage people to avoid such kinds of contents due to the bad user experience. Although the redundancy of some words may also have some positive effects (for example to reinforce a brand or a concept), content writers should choose the words to repeat wisely, and the text should sound natural, coherent and well-organized.

How to rank better without keyword stuffing?

Stay safe: keyword stuffing is dangerous and content readability is terrible! So, how to do to rank better? According to Google’s guidelines, focusing efforts on writing useful, rich and well-written articles for your audience is the best way to rank better.

Search engine algorithms (e.g., Google RankBrain) are now able to recognize relevant articles for any users’ queries. Many times, search engines also propose results that do not contain the exact keyword searched by the user. This is because search engines now use sophisticated deep learning algorithms to understand the actual users’ search intent.

Definitely, the best way to improve the ranking of your site is to create real value for the visitors. Creating optimized and rich content pieces, choosing keywords appropriately, is the best strategy in the mid-term period.

Tips to create better contents

In general, it is advisable to include the main keyword in the page title, meta description, meta tags, headings, subheadings and in the first and last paragraph of your content. However, what really matters to write better content pieces is to avoid keyword repetition and consider keyword variations. In fact, adding a wide range of vocabulary and lexical items – including synonyms – can make your content more appealing to your readers.

From the search engine point of view, rich contents are essential to help crawlers differentiate the topic of which you are writing about. Search engine algorithms are now able to understand appropriately the topic and relevance of a piece of text through the context in which words appear. For example, if your text includes words like “car”, “toys” and “kids”, it is clear that your article is well focused on toy cars for kids. Last but not least, differentiate language helps you to rank better also for long-tail keywords.

A practical approach to content design

Writing information-rich, quality content is a difficult task. To do so, a content writer must have the right vocabulary and semantics knowledge suited to a particular topic. However, one is not always able to master any subject sufficiently. And even when one is able to write adequately on the required topic, there may be a lack of ideas to enrich the text enough. This is why it is essential to analyze the content written by your best competitors to take ideas, edit them, and create new value for your visitors. This task can be facilitated using software tools like WriteBetter, which can analyze the content of your best competitors and compare them with your own content.

For example, imagine that you want to write about “DIY toy cars”. To do so, it is essential to start with a Google search – possibly in incognito mode to avoid altered results – to find out what are the best content pieces on the subject.

Search your best competitors in incognito mode.

The best content pages are usually among the first results on Google, although this is not always the case. In fact, some websites could rank better due to factors that are not related to pure content quality. Once selected the best contents – the recommendation is to choose long and high-quality content – WriteBetter asks for the links so that it can analyze them.

Get software feedback

After such an analysis, WriteBetter provides the “Semantic Richness Score“. It evaluates, comparatively, the differences between the competitors’ content and your text in terms of vocabulary/semantics.

Clicking on “Show suggested keywords“, WriteBetter lets you know what keywords are missing in your text but are included in your competitors’ text.

According to these keywords, WriteBetter is able to suggest new ideas with which you can enrich your text. For example, clicking on “motor“, WriteBetter provides related examples from which you can get new ideas and enrich your copy.

Moreover, when some keywords are used excessively, WriteBetter shows a keyword stuffing warning and suggests decreasing the use of such keywords. 

Summing up

Our final advice is to avoid keyword stuffing to prevent content page penalization and make an effort on creating content with a focus on quality, richness, and variety. Study other competitors and identify the right vocabulary and relevant keywords manually. Alternatively, use WriteBetter to automatically detect the right keywords, issues, and areas of improvement for your articles. Don’t forget to let keywords flow naturally. Of course, this requires investment in money and time, but it is worth doing.

Linguistic search