Keyword Stuffing

Keyword Stuffing Comments From Google's John Mueller

Keyword stuffing was an old, old SEO tactic back in the late '90's used by webmasters to artificially boost a page in search engine rankings.

You keyword stuff a page by writing some content, and you can either randomly insert the phrase you want the page to rank for out of context, or you can write a lot of content that makes sense, but most of the sentences contain the phrase you want to rank well for.

I've always taught that it's a black hat SEO tactic that violates Google's guidelines (it does), so I was really surprised to read a post from Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable where Google's very own John Mueller said this via Twitter:

"So for example, with keyword stuffing, if we can recognize that a page is doing keyword stuffing and we can just ignore the keyword stuff part and focus on rest, then that for us is also kind of a reasonable approach. Because we can't fix all pages. We can inform the webmasters and say hey you're doing this wrong, we can send them notifications from the web spam team but sometimes there are still useful information on those pages and we want to rank those pages for the useful part not for the kind of keyword stuffing bad part."

The bolding is mine.

The surprise for me was John's comment about useful information on keyword stuffed pages. You see, I've never thought that keyword stuffed pages had useful content mixed in with the over-used, deliberately inserted phrase to cheat search engine rankings.

keyword stuffing thoughts

It just surprised me to read this. Not that it's bad that John said it; I simply have never given any thought that there could be some good content that's keyword stuffed. It's entirely possible, but my thought is this: those webmasters who set out to keyword stuff a document are probably lazy and don't really care if the content they publish has any use; they're simply trying to shove other pages down in search results.

My Thoughts On Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is synonymous with the old, now-removed keyword density requirement. It used to be back in the day, that we were advised to have a keyword density of about 2 - 4% for our chosen keyword phrase in the content we were optimizing. Spammers ran with that, and were publishing pages with keyword density percentages as high as 50% or more. That's some really shitty writing that's boring, probably non-sensical and just downright annoying. So Google removed that requirement from their ranking signals, which I agree with. It's hard to write good content if you have to think about using your keyword phrase multiple times to get the page to rank better.

This doesn't change the way I teach SEO or advise my clients, but it's certainly given me some pause to consider my hard line stance of every keyword-stuffed page is completely useless and is just deliberately trying to rank high.

Want to learn more about black hat SEO tactics, and why white hat wins the day? Let's get together so I can teach you basic and advanced search engine optimization - you'll be glad you did!

Until we meet next time, stay safely between the ditches.

All the very best to you,

Nancy McDonald

Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

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