Today, and for the rest of the week, we are continuing our topic of Black Hat SEO tactics that you should NOT be doing on your website. Black Hat SEO refers to unethical technology strategies or website content that will negatively affect your SERP ranking or will get your website banned from search engines.
Today we are explaining Keyword Stuffing and we'll give you an example of it. But first, let's give you a little background information for the benefit of website beginners out there, or to refresh your memory.
In order to have a web page appear in the SERP for a keyword, you need to use that keyword on your page. If you want your website to appear for the phrase "champagne diamonds," you will need to use that phrase on your website.
The question you should ask yourself is how many times the phrase "champagne diamonds" should appear on your page. Our answer is "more than once, but just enough that it makes sense in your writing style."
We'd like to warn you of SEO professionals that will tell you a specific "Keyword density" is needed on you page. Some will say you need 2%, 7%, 12% and even 20%.
2% density = use your phrase 2 times for every 100 words on a page.
7% density = use your phrase 7 times for every 100 words on a page.
12% density = use your phrase 12 times for every 100 words on a page.
20% density = use your phrase 20 times for every 100 words on a page.
Hopefully you realize for yourself that saying the phrase "champagne diamonds" even 7 times within 100 words would be a little obnoxious, and probably difficult for anyone to read. However, in the early days of the internet, if you wanted good SERP ranking you simply needed to use your phrase more times than your competitor.
Overusing your keywords tends to make your content seem contrived and difficult to read. This is the Black Hat SEO technique called Keyword Stuffing.
There are no set rules or specific word usage percentages that indicate when you are Keyword Stuffing. To combat the Black Hat aspect, though, Google has gone on record to say that you should simply write naturally, and as long as you write naturally your users will reward you.
On the other hand, Google and other search engines (most notably Blekko) give the users very easy ways to complain about sites that are keyword stuffed.
Let's look at an example of keyword stuffing.
"When looking for engagement rings, New York hosts some of the finest engagement ring vendors in the country, including Perosi Jewelers. But in can be a daunting task to choose engagement rings. New York fortunately can provide several options for the discerning buyer when making the most important purchase of his life. The first options are the classic engagement rings. New York can provide beautiful and elegant engagement rings matching the antique look that many traditional women love. Depending on the style chosen, they can be more expensive engagement rings, but they also are worth it for the timeless look that they provide."
This is an obviously contrived paragraph hoping to achieve some search engine ranking. That's a 103 word example with the phrase "engagement ring" used 6 times, or 6% density. Actually "New York" is used 3 times and has 3% density.
Sadly that example comes from a real website but we changed the city name and the jewelry store name to present it here. The page we excerpted it from has 786 words on the page, and all 786 words are overly contrived for SEO.
Since keyword usage within SEO is not an exact science, you need to constantly weigh the number of times you use a keyword against how satisfied the user would be reading it. We've seen Google reward websites with high SERP placement when their URLs are short and the content on their pages is well written.
We would have written the above example more naturally like this... with at most a 2 or 3% keyword density like this...
"New York's Diamond District, 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, hosts some of the finest engagement ring vendors in the country, including Perosi Jewelers. The area provides an overwhelming number of options for the discerning buyer when making the most important purchase of his life. Perosi Jewelers strives to turn that overwhelming situation into something much more manageable inside our jewelry showroom and comfortable private viewing areas. We carry classic engagement rings and elegant engagement rings to match the antique look that many traditional women love; and if you would like to present her with a timeless look she will treasure for a lifetime we have a special selection of high value engagement rings."
Using a little creative writing to add a value proposition, we've rewritten the original 103 words to be 115. It is easier to read and doesn't sound so contrived. We also managed to include the store name twice, as well as introduced the phrase "diamond district" which will help in local SEO.
The phrase "engagement rings" is used 4 times making it about 3.6% density, but again, we don't subscribe to the keyword density theory. Just write naturally.
For your own litmus test, if pages on your website never seem to appear in the SERP, you should evaluate them for potential keyword stuffing. Pages with overly contrived content will probably show high bounce rates in Google Analytics reports but (assuming only keyword stuffing) the pages may not be removed from the Google SERP unless people complain about it or you have 20% or higher density.