Stuffing is great for Thanksgiving, but not so much for your keywords.
A fundamental part of content marketing, specifically on the writing side, is performing keyword research to target a specific keyword for a blog, article, or guide.
You can conduct this research using SEO software. These tools will show you metrics like volume and ranking difficulty, but what they won’t always tell you is the negative impact of stuffing your content with keywords.
Here’s what that means.
What is keyword stuffing?
It wasn’t long ago when pumping content full of target keywords was actually beneficial and often led to an uptick in search engine rankings.
But things have changed. Search engines have gotten smarter and understand that stuffing could be easily manipulated.
Why is keyword stuffing bad?
Keyword stuffing occurs when an excessive amount of target keywords are loaded on a webpage. This is widely condemned by search engines and often leads to penalizing or even removal of content from search results.
Not all keyword stuffing is done deliberately. Webmasters with little knowledge of SEO may be doing it without even knowing.
Common keyword stuffing tactics
So, are you stuffing keywords in your content today? Here are a few of the more common tactics that search engines penalize.
Basic keyword stuffing
The most common type of keyword stuffing occurs when a keyword is written over and over again in excessive amounts.
The thought that more keyword density leads to more search engine recognition is outdated and should be taken seriously when writing content.
Related: Don't spoil your chance of ranking before you even hit publish. Learn what keyword cannibalization is and why it's important.
This type of stuffing is a bit savvier, but still recognizable by search engines when crawling webpages. Hidden text stuffing uses the same concepts as regular stuffing, instead, a marketer matches the color of the text to the webpage background, essentially making it invisible to the reader.
Webpage text, regardless of its style, size, or color, is still HTML that will be found when search engines index your page. Can’t outsmart the robots.
Link spam, also known as spamdexing, may not be an outright example of keyword stuffing, but the thought behind the strategy stays the same – stuff my content with as many links as possible. Search engines see this as spam and will penalize accordingly.
While there’s not an exact amount of keywords you should look to avoid, there are some ways to be conscious about keyword stuffing.
This tip comes directly from Google, the leading search engine today. “Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.” Basically, create content that’s useful to the reader. If you’re focusing on hitting an excessive amount of keywords as opposed to creating genuine content, you’re probably stuffing.
Be more specific in your content. If you can describe your main point (with your keyword in it) in 150 words or less, then why would you do it in 300? Yes, search engines enjoy longer pieces of content, but not at the expense of keyword stuffing and rephrasing.
Stay on track with your content. This point relates more to link spamming but also piggybacks off being specific with content. Try to avoid going on tangents and touching on keywords that are irrelevant to the main topic. This could lead to non-deliberate stuffing.
Content marketing and understanding SEO from even a basic level can be difficult. For those who need inspiration, check out these 10 impressive content marketing examples and campaigns.
Devin is a former Content Marketing Specialist at G2, who wrote about data, analytics, and digital marketing. Prior to G2, he helped scale early-stage startups out of Chicago's booming tech scene. Outside of work, he enjoys watching his beloved Cubs, playing baseball, and gaming. (he/him/his)