So you’ve identified your SEO keywords. Now you want to use them. A lot. The obvious plan is to cram them into your content as much as possible. But that’s the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Read on to find out about the perils of ‘keyword stuffing’.
What is keyword stuffing?
It’s the practice of repeating the same keywords over and over again, purely to optimize your copy. Here’s an example of some shameless keyword stuffing:
Are you looking for walking boots? If you’re looking for walking boots, you’re in the right place. Our website for walking boots is the best place to find the widest range of walking boots. Read on to find out more about walking boots and get the best walking boots for your needs.
Get the idea? It’s not particularly subtle.
How does it affect rankings?
In the past, keyword stuffing used to work and those spammy websites would make their way to the top of the rankings. But no longer.
Search engines have recently wised up to the practice. They even penalise websites that do it. Today, stuffing a keyword into your content too many times will knock you off the search rankings. At worst, your website could be removed from listing altogether.
Can I hide the keywords behind the scenes?
You would have thought so, wouldn’t you? But no, afraid not. Even if you hide the keywords away in the code, such as in the meta, alt and comment tags, you’ll still be found out. Thinking of putting them on the page but camouflaging them by making them the same colour as the background? That won’t work either. Search engine algorithms are pretty smart these days.
What should I do then?
It’s actually obvious. You need to create content that’s aimed at the real visitors to your site, not the search engine crawlers. Simply write content that will be informative and interesting to your customer base. Bearing those vital keywords in mind, of course.
Google gives guidance to those seeking to improve their rankings. They suggest you should produce quality content based around keywords:
“Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
Any other ways to top the rankings?
Consider widening your approach to keywords.
Secondary keywords: Instead of chasing only the hottest keywords, add some less competitive options. For example, if your primary keyword is walking boot, secondary keywords might be ‘waterproof’ and ‘ankle support’
Keyword synonyms: For example, if your primary keyword is walking boot, try using hiking boot, ankle boot, field boot, jackboot etc.
Long-tail keywords: Select a more detailed version of your primary keyword to draw in a specific client base. For example: ‘waterproof walking boot with ankle support’
So where should I use my keywords?
Place your keywords as follows and you won’t fall foul of the search engines:
Once within page elements, including the page title
In one or more subheadings
In the title tag
In the meta description
In one or more image alt tags
In the first paragraph
Towards the end of the content
Put simply, if you create quality content that your visitors will actually want to read, you won’t be going far wrong.