Keywords – Friend or Foe

Sep 20, 2013 | SEO Insights

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of loading a webpage with a keyword or keyword phrase as many times as possible in order to manipulate the site’s ranking on various search engines. Keyword stuffing can be quite obvious to both visitors of a website and the search engine itself, as many times the keywords are plugged into the content in a seemingly arbitrary way that they appear out of context. Doing this is a jarring experience for many visiting your site and will result in them leaving your site faster than usual, which will in turn negatively affect your sales and giving you a higher bounce rate which will harm your site’s SEO ranking. Additionally, the search engine will recognize your keyword stuffing as spam which will increase the negative rankings of your site’s SEO.

Take a look at the keyword stuffing example below:

Are you looking for affordable carpet cleaner? If affordable carpet cleaner is what you need, then we are happy to inform you that we sell the best affordable carpet cleaner as we are the number one affordable carpet cleaner company around. All of our affordable carpet cleaner products are sure to get your carpet cleaned up better than any other. For more information about our affordable carpet cleaner be sure to call us today!

As you can see by the paragraph above, the stuffing of the keyword “affordable carpet cleaner” is not only obnoxious and off-putting, but it breaks the flow and structure of the paragraph, making it difficult to read, which will then cause those visiting your website to leave and hinder them ever returning.

The amazing thing that many web owners haven’t realized about keyword stuffing is that even if you somehow end up on the first page for “affordable carpet cleaner,” the stuffing of this phrase will act as a natural repellant to any searcher clicking on your site.

Keyword Meta Tags no longer Relevant

As it was stated before, stuffing the keyword will ultimately turn away both customers and the search engine itself. With this in mind, keyword meta tags that were once used in determining a site’s SEO ranking are no longer registered or acknowledged by Google’s search algorithm. Simply asking your SEO company to add keywords will no longer work to help your SEO boost, nor will adding keywords yourself. The only way to improve your rank is to write quality content with the keyword added in tactfully. If you add keywords to the meta tag, or ask your SEO company to do this for you, it is essentially a waste of time and energy as Google does not use the keyword meta tags in their search algorithm anymore.

Keyword Stuffing vs General Keyword Usage

Before you throw the use of keywords out altogether, it is important to clarify the difference between keyword stuffing and keyword usage. The above example will illustrate exactly what keyword stuffing is, while the example given below will show what your general keyword usage should look like:

Are you looking for affordable carpet cleaner in the bay area? Well we are happy to inform you that we are the number one carpet cleaner supplier the bay area has to offer. All of our products are sure to get your carpet cleaned up better than any other. For more information about our cleaning products be sure to call us today!

As you can see, this paragraph is much more aesthetically pleasing than the one before it, as well as being much easier to read and engaging with the viewer. The usage of the keyword ‘affordable carpet cleaner’ in the first sentence of the paragraph is known as general keyword usage. As an unwritten rule, most companies ascribe to using keywords sparsely throughout their content for each page with a keyword density of 2-5% of the entire content.

Likewise, by using contextual language throughout the paragraph to call back to the keyword in the first sentence, the viewer clearly knows what is being discussed while the search engine is able to crawl the words of the website and see that while the keyword is utilized only once in the entire paragraph, the language focuses on the keyword, thus strengthening its appeal.

This will help boost the sites SEO as the keyword is utilized in a meaningful manner and not over-saturating the rest of the text, while also not written specifically for a  machine so as to appeal to a human audience which will in turn build customer satisfaction and potential clientele.

This process is known as implementing synonyms. Search engines recognize that words have multiple meanings, so by adding synonyms and words that point back to, or reference, the keyword, then the search engine will pick up on that and actually rate your content higher than if you had not implemented synonyms. Though Google tries to remain elusive with every Panda update that comes out, it is obvious through tracking specific strategies that one thing Panda does look for is the implementation of synonyms. Because Google Panda is reading more and more like a human with every update, synonyms help Google remain relevant and on-topic, so they tend to reward the sites that implement them. Having a variety of related words also means that your site is more likely to have created content of value and substance rather than meaningless, meandering filler to try and boost your ratings through cheap and lazy tactics.

Latent Semantic Indexing and Analysis

As stated before and in earlier Marketing Mixer Newsletters, the contents of a webpage are crawled by a search engine to determine the SEO and SERP ranking. The most common words and phrases are collated and identified as the keywords for the page, unless stated otherwise internally. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) looks for synonyms and phrases related to the title of your page. Therefore, if the title of your page is “carpet cleaner” then the LSI will scan for and pick up on words like “duster,” “stain,” “scented,” and so on. LSI indexes and analyses the use of your synonym implementation and then applies it accordingly to your SEO ranking. Using the example above, the underlined words would be considered words that the LSI looks for in regards to the keyword:

Are you looking for affordable carpet cleaner in the bay area? Well we are happy to inform you that we are the number one carpet cleaner supplier the bay area has to offer. All of our products are sure to get your carpet cleaned up better than any other. For more information about our cleaning products be sure to call us today!

The existence of latent semantic indexing came as a direct result and reaction to people trying to cheat search engines by the use of keyword stuffing. Because nothing is valued more in the SEO world that good, unique, informative content, Google began applying the LSI system to apply negative votes to those who stuff keywords into their site in an attempt to manipulate the search engine and gain strong rankings while applying positive votes to those who take time and precision when writing their content and not over-saturating or stuffing their keywords.

Benefiting from latent semantic indexing is quite simple and actually goes hand in hand with common sense and writing good content, so if your content is good and meaningful, then the LSI system will recognize that. A few tips to benefit from LSI would be:

  • Make sure the content relates to the page title. If your age title is Home Gardening Tips, make sure that the content pertains to gardening.
  • Do not stuff your keyword into your text.
  • Never outsource your content. Always write internally, and always take time to ensure that it’s worthwhile and well researched.
  • Check what keywords your pages are ranking for on Google Webmaster Tools and try to incorporate those in to the majority of your posts.

Fortunately, most companies have come around to no longer utilizing the keyword stuffing campaign on their websites. However, there are many who still maintain this tactic. If you find that your website is continually stuffing keywords into every post and wonder why your SEO ranking never seems to climb, re-writing some of that content, and omitting a majority of your over-placed keywords will help for a quick boost immediately and a steady climb over time. Added with implementing synonyms to appease the latent semantic indexing system and you should see a solid climb in your company’s SEO over the year to come. For some more information from head of Google Webspam, Matt Cutts, check out the video below.

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