Like most things in the digital marketing sphere, SEO is constantly changing, developing, and being refined. As digital marketing professionals, we’d like to think our SEO ranking isn’t everything… and it isn’t. But it’s worth a whole lot. Trends come and go and Google is constantly working to better its algorithms and refine the ranking system. ‘Keyword Stuffing’ is the lazy-marketer’s trick to rank for a keyword – but Google’s not a fan.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is how Google now understands your content. It interprets synonyms, adjectives and words related to keywords or key search terms to determine your google ranking. This means Google can find a more precise meaning in your content and you can share more details or nuances of your products or services. Google being able to interpret this makes it possible for the search engine to understand how your content differs from similar websites or your competitors.
On top of interpreting your content and message, Google knows how users feel about the copy. The search engine measures the click through rate, time spent on site, the screens per visit, the leave rate, and on site engagement. So, naturally, the more pleasant your content, the more pleasant an experience for the user, and thus, a better Google ranking.
So, what is keyword stuffing? It’s where you stuff your content full of the same few keywords to improve your SEO ranking. It’s the unnecessary repetition of these words or their out of context placement. Keyword stuffing was once one of the best ways to rank on Google but as search engines develop and become smarter, they learn to differentiate between words and understand the content. Where digital marketers could once place solid blocks of text repeating the same keywords in a hidden font-colour, you’ll now be penalised. The same goes for unnecessarily repeating keywords on irrelevant online pages.
Keyword Density is how dense the use of the keyword is in the content. There’s no real rule for the optimum or ideal keyword density but a lot of experienced SEO specialists suggest 2% as a good guide. To find your keyword density take the amount of times the keyword appears in the copy and divide it by the copy’s total word count.
“We sell shoes. Our shoes come in all sizes, small shoes, medium-sized shoes, bigger shoes, and any colour shoes. Look in our shoes shop to find the shoes for you.”
There’s 30 words in the above content and their keyword ‘shoes’ appears eight times. Dividing eight by 30 (8/30) is 0.26, so 26% – the above’s keyword density is 26%.
This is textbook keyword stuffing and is harmful to your Google ranking but as well as that; it isn’t a pleasant read, it’s mind-jolting, and had any search engine directed a potential customer to your website, they’d probably have left.
By now we’ve established that keyword stuffing is one of the biggest faux pas an SEO marketer could make. Keyword stuffing doesn’t make for good content; it’s clunky, it doesn’t read well, and it can make your website look really unprofessional. So without Google’s massive disapproval, the content likely wouldn’t lead to any conversions in the first place. But Google does disapprove, so when it identifies keyword stuffing or content that seems like spam, your website can be removed from SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Developing search engine optimised content can be really difficult but the key is to still create interesting, engaging, and easy-to-read content that’s designed for potential customers or clients — not Google.