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What Is Keyword Stuffing and How Can You Avoid It?

July 2018

Keyword stuffing is one of the great sins of search engine optimization. Google defines the practice as “loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.” Not only can keyword stuffing get you into trouble with Google and other search engines, but it also hinders user experience and will hurt your site’s engagement, dwell times, and conversion rates. Bottom line, keyword stuffing is not a crime you want to commit.

Related: Balancing Quality Content for Your Law Firm with Keywords

What Keyword Stuff Looks Like
Keyword stuffing can take a few forms depending on the site. Sometimes, site owners try to rank for a lot of different terms just by including a list of those terms, without context, on a page. For instance, say you are a law firm in the Miami area trying to attract potential clients. An example of keyword stuffing might be ending a blog post with a long list of suburbs, neighborhoods, or nearby cities that you want to rank for on Google. As a rule, any use of keywords that are not relevant to the content at hand is considered keyword stuffing.

Another strategy keyword stuffers use is ramping up keyword density. The best keyword-driven content always uses keywords enough to ping search engines, but not so much that the keywords overwhelm the content. Ideally, your keyword density will hit somewhere in the 1-3 percent range. At this density, a discerning reader can probably tell you are trying to rank for a specific keyword, but the content will still read naturally.

If your density is closer to 10 or 20 percent—or higher—you are keyword stuffing, and Google is not going to be the only one to notice. Consider an excerpt like the following:

“Our law firm is one of the oldest law firms in Miami. As a law firm in Miami, we work with matters such as family law, traffic law, and estate law. If you are interested in hiring our law firm in Miami, call today, and we will schedule a consultation.”

If you read a page like this one where a keyword appears in every sentence, you notice—and you’ll probably be irritated by the excessive keyword use. Good writing is not redundant, but keyword-stuffed content often is. If you read through your content and can imagine a reader rolling their eyes at your excessive and forced use of keywords, you are probably getting dangerously close to keyword stuffing.

Avoiding Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is easy to avoid. Here are a few rules to follow to keep your site free of this irritating and ultimately damaging practice:

  • Keep your keyword density low. A few quality keyword mentions go a long way. ?
  • Focus on quality. You might be writing a blog to get a keyword on your site, but if you devote yourself to addressing engaging topics or answering relevant questions, you will avoid keyword stuffing just by trying to craft something actual humans will want to read.
  • Don’t shoehorn keywords into your page when they aren’t relevant. Avoid lists of keywords. If you have a lot of locations you want to rank for, craft different pages focusing on each rather than listing them all on one page. ?
  • Have someone edit your content. Before you post anything, ask someone from outside your company—or at least outside your content team—to read it over. Fresh, unbiased eyes are often the best judges of readability and keyword stuffing.