Why Bloggers Should Avoid Keyword Stuffing

by JoHarrington

Using the same word over and over again used to be a sure-fire way to get search engine hits. Now it will just get you fired.

The nature of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is changing. Hurrah!

In the old days, it used to be enough to just repeat the same word over and over again, just to attract those searching for that word to your website.

It was inane, but it was better than what was to come.

Keyword stuffing has been the bane of the internet for years. It just got worse before Google wiped the whole board clean.

Lost in the Matrix (or Why Writers Need Readers)

If you want to be visible on the internet, then people need to be able to find you. Enter SEO!

It is quite remarkable to realize that Emily Brontë was turned down by no less than thirty-six publishers, before she found one willing to take a chance on Wuthering Heights.

J.K. Rowling didn't fare much better. Twelve publishing houses expressed the opinion that there wasn't a market for her Harry Potter series.

The annals of literary history is littered with such mistakes from editors who really must have been kicking themselves afterwards. The fact remains that there must be millions of writers whose talent was lost to the slush piles. This is never more true than on the internet. Successful writers need readers; but in the vastness of cyberspace, they can easily be overlooked.

One solution is to actively go out onto social networking sites and drag readers in from the digital streets. Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Facebook and all of the rest are great sources of people hungry for great writing. The other alternative is to find the internet equivalent of an agent. I am referring, of course, to search engines.

A potential reader enters a query into the likes of Google, Bing or Yahoo. That word or question leads to pages of website links being displayed. Each one, in theory, should relate to the original search term with the best result at the top and the worst result buried somewhere back on page 35985.

The trick for a writer is to ensure that their link is near to the front, preferably right at the top. In order to do this, it's not enough to simply create amazing blogs or other web content. Their article needs to employ methods of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - those little tools for crafting hooks that the results algorithm will pick up as something quite wonderful.

There is not the scope here to discuss every sleight of hand used to gain higher ranking, but there is one very important aspect. The clever writer will carefully choose their words with the search engines in mind.

Books About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Buy these guides to educate yourself on the best way to attract internet traffic.

What are Keywords and Key Phrases?

Certain words can trigger higher rankings in search engine results. The closer the match to the query, the better your chances of being linked.

It is in the nature of a search engine to take a request for information and then find a website that can provide it. The algorithm does so by matching like for like. It takes the elements of the query and scans sites looking for an identical pairing.

That said, not all of the words used in the question might be relevant. It is grammatically correct to include them, but they add nothing to the actual meaning.

For example, if I was to ask, 'Were there any witches at Plas Teg?' Only two aspects are required for the query to be communicated. I could just as easily ask, 'Witches Plas Teg?' It strips everything down to the bare bones of what is being asked, but it does the job. Just ask any toddler. They have been demanding answers in this way since human beings first invented language.

These would be the keywords. It is what every search engine is looking for, in order to add precision. Otherwise every link or webpage with the words 'were', 'there', 'any' and 'at' would also appear. Needless to say, these would not answer the question.

However, there are situations where even more exactness is needed. This is particularly true when a search around one word might be too wide. For example, a query about 'taxes' would leave anyone drowning in a sea of general links. The query would have to be more specific - 'UK Family Tax Credit' or 'Windows Tax Act' or 'US Income Tax'. These are known as key phrases. They make the results focus on what exactly is being sought.

The ideal for an on-line writer is to work with this knowledge. The main words or phrases in their article should match what a potential reader might enter into a search engine. The danger is in going too far.

Free Tools for Finding the Perfect Words

Your search engine ranking may rely upon knowing the most popular words and phrases.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool
Type in your proposed title and sub-titles to see how closely they match real world searches.

Google Adwords Traffic Estimator
This was designed with advertisers in mind, but it works well for writers too. You can see what people will pay top money to have associated with their advertisements.

This website not only has a tool for optimising SEO, but articles relating to its importance.

Keep Calm and Carry On
Ad AllPosters

Do Search Engines Cry Algorithmic Tears?

The most brilliant examples of SEO might not hold the answers to the query. That's when it all goes wrong.

Once armed with the topmost search word or phrase, a writer can strategically place it into their article. All of those people typing it into their browser will then be linked to your page. It seems so simple and it is. This remains one of the foremost methods of SEO current on the internet today.

But there are two major problems here:

  • Everyone else knows the same keywords and phrases. A lot of people will be similarly using them.
  • The topmost search might not precisely match what you were writing about.

In desperation, people have tried to leapfrog over higher ranked sites by repeating the same golden text over and over again.







In its worse form, there is no actual content, just the hooks reproduced seemingly into infinity with adverts pinned to the side. The algorithm would rank it highly, because everything there and in the query itself matched so precisely.This was annoying to the readers and it caused a massive bounce rate. Nevertheless their links remained, cluttering up the results. Developers of the search engines naturally received complaints.

More commonly, web content writers and bloggers tried to be more circumspect about it. They created the content, but it was literally littered with those terms designed to attract internet traffic. The repetition read like gibberish. The answers might be there, but they were so barbed with hooks that it was often impossible to tease them out.

Image: Keyword Stuffing







This was keyword stuffing. Those using it had lost sight of the initial goal, while being too wrapped up in the methods of attaining it. The aim was to attract readers for their beautifully written prose. All they did was lure an algorithm and break down the fundamental premise of search engines - to pair up those looking for and providing information.

Under extreme pressure from users, developers changed their coding. Suddenly all of those over-stuffed articles, blogs and web writing were highlighted and dropped from the ranking completely. They had ultimately achieved internet invisibility.

Fun T-Shirts for Bloggers

The Dangers of Keyword Stuffing

Obscurity for your own site or being asked to leave someone else's are the main pitfalls here.

Image: Top WithinsAs the major search websites become more vigilant against the over-use of certain words, then those hoping for high ranking result links have learned to protect their content. Anyone invited to create articles for their sites will be warned outright against using unethical SEO practices like this.

Of course, it's still the case that careful writers will continue to incorporate those important, highly sought after triggers. They have to. If they want their answers to be matched to the question posed by their reader, then the terms need to correspond. As with everything in life, it's a case of everything in moderation.

Failure to comply will undoubtedly incur consequences. A site owner might disable the article, until it's rewritten more naturally. The more ferocious may not believe in second chances. The writer is unceremoniously kicked out and all of their work is deleted. Game over and no more revenue from that source.

No-one can say that they weren't warned. It is in the terms and conditions of every major magazine site on the internet.

Wizzley Quality Requirements: 'Articles are marked for revision by the authors when one or more of the following aspects are present: ... Keyword stuffing (excessive use of the same keyword).'

Suite101 Submission Guidelines: 'Keyword stuffing. At Suite101, we steer well clear of dubious search engine optimization, broadly speaking, anything designed to help your search performance but which weakens your article. As such, we do not accept unnatural use of keywords - including overuse and awkward use.'

Hubpages Learning Center: 'Over-use of keyword-heavy words or phrases may also result in moderation, as it falls under the category of being deceptive to searchers.'

Squidoo Terms of Service: 'If you make a lens filled with repetitive language designed to bait the search engines, we'll probably delete it. We are looking for useful, updated material that is written by a person, for a person.'

Those are only four examples. I can practically guarantee that every other writing platform will have something similar in their user agreements too.

The reason is very simple and holds as true for small, one-person blogs as it does multi-user mega-sites. Keyword stuffing is the quickest route to having your whole site deranked by search engines. This could well be the modern equivalent of the likes of Google acting like the publishing houses which rejected Emily Brontë and J.K. Rowling. But without any way for the readers to find your brilliant writing, how would anyone ever know?

Google's Matt Cutts Explains Keyword Density

Many bloggers are wondering how much is too much for important words. One of the men behind the Panda algorithm explains what Google seeks to find.

Time to Invest in a Thesaurus?

Extending your vocabulary will not only produce better articles, but will catch extra keywords!

My Other Blogging Tips

People clicking too quickly off your site means that they didn't find anything of interest there. The search engine makes a note.
Thematic bloggers act like speculators on the futures stock market. They are hoping to get in at the ground floor.
There are many tricks or incentives that bloggers can use to invite their readers to check out your other content. Your analytics rating will love it.
Many Britons make an income on-line, but not as much as their colleagues in the USA. Discover some of the pitfalls and nasty surprises before you are confronted with them.
Updated: 03/18/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 01/12/2013

You're very welcome. Thank you for reading it. :D

TedWritesStuff on 01/12/2013

What a great article. Thank you for sharing your knowledge ;-)

JoHarrington on 03/04/2012

Nema na cemu!

How are you checking your keyword density?

Mladen on 03/04/2012

I must admit I am doing keyword stuffing sometimes, unintentionally. I have read somewhere on the net that acceptable keyword density was 3 to 8 %. Few articles I had fixed had nice rank boost. So it is obviously very important to keep an eye on key density in your articles. Not only for search engines, but mostly to keep you visitor coming back to you. Thank you for advices!

JoHarrington on 02/08/2012

Yes, the days of writing nonsense crap, just to figure on search engines, is thankfully over. The internet was always meant for use by human beings, not algorithms.

Thank you for commenting and it's good to hear that another writer out there has professional integrity and pride!

WordCustard on 02/08/2012

Very helpful, and I must say reassuring for anyone who actually cares about their online writing to know that search engines no longer fall for these kinds of tricks and instead look for rock solid content.

JoHarrington on 01/19/2012

Thank you, 2uesday. I hope it shed some light onto things for you. :D

JoHarrington on 01/17/2012

I'm glad that it was useful for you. <3 And you're welcome!

sheilamarie on 01/17/2012

Thank you, Jo! Really nice article -- I mean wizzle. It helps put keywords in perspective.

JoHarrington on 01/15/2012

It does indeed, FuturisticWriter. In fact, it should apply to anybody writing on the internet today.

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