SEO: What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keywords in SEO are at the heart of your SEO strategy. You must use them sufficiently to allow search engines to understand your content and put you in the top search results.  Be careful, however, not too much. The over-optimization of keywords or keyword stuffing is an SEO practice which, although attractive, can lead to significant penalties for your website.

Definition of Keyword Stuffing

This is a technique used in natural referencing, which consists of using keywords excessively. When this is intentional, the practice is carried out in such a way as to make them invisible to the Internet user.

Considered black hat SEO, “Keyword Stuffing” aims to help content rank better in search results. In fact, it is not. This was an effective practice in the 2000s. It was commonplace at that time to “hide” a piece of text consisting only of keywords. It can be in the form of a list of keywords, separated by a comma, or complete content but returning the same keyword several times per sentence.

This text, which has no relevance to readers, was then formatted to be visible only to search engines, with a font color identical to the background, for example. This practice can also affect metadata and all the so-called “hot” areas of SEO, in which case we also speak of over-optimization.

Keyword Stuffing is now an obsolete practice that is considered “spam” by search engines.

What are the risks of Keyword Stuffing?

Since 2012, Keyword Stuffing has been heavily sanctioned by search engine algorithms. This is particularly the case since the Google Panda updates, which filters content deemed to be of poor quality, and Google Penguin, which fights against links deemed fake and over-optimization of keywords.

They can now determine without any problem whether the use of your keywords is reasonable or not.

The consequences of keyword overuse can be very serious, ranging from downgrading at best to your site disappearing altogether from the SERPs.

Aside from penalty issues, Keyword Stuffing is also a practice that harms user experience when detected. It decreases the quality of the content broadcast to your audience.SEO keyword stuffing

How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing?

The line between optimization and Keyword Stuffing can sometimes be thin, especially for SEO newbies who might be overdoing it.

To avoid this, keep in mind that you shouldn’t optimize your content at the expense of its quality. Instead, write your text naturally. Also, make sure you optimize your tags by varying the angles of your subject or addressing highlights. In particular, the Hn tags, the H1 tag, and the meta title tag, which appear in the search results.

Use semantics and lexical field

You should work on the semantics and lexical field of your keywords to enrich and optimize SEO content. By varying the angles and the vocabulary, you will give Google a better interpretation of your content and a good reading fluidity for your audience.

The goal is to aim for the first position on Google on your main keywords, even if it remains difficult.

Control  the density rate of your keywords

Do not hesitate to calculate the density rate of your keywords to check for possible over-optimization. If you write in WordPress, plugins such as Yoast SEO will tell you this rate. It’s still just a simple indicator.

Do not forget that beyond the over-optimization, your readers can quickly leave your page because of the heaviness of the content. You would thereby increase your bounce rate—one of the main indicators of Google Analytics.

Although there is no official rule, this rate should be between 2% and 6%, a big maximum for a good SEO.

Enrich your content with long articles

Also, think about long articles to broaden the semantics and lexical field. This allows Google to understand your content better. In a recent study, we could read that more than 50% of the articles positioned in first place on Google had more than 2000 words.

Long articles also make it possible to split a subject into several chapters or sub-titles and thus to use H2 tags.

Do not hesitate to alternate between short articles and long articles to also meet the expectations of Internet users.

Penalties linked to over-optimization in SEO

Google does not appreciate the over-optimization of content. It equates this with spam. Among the main Google algorithms, Penguin took care of it in parallel with Panda on the overall quality of the content.

To get a penalty, you still have to be at the limit of your own will or if you accidentally repeat an over-optimization on several contents of the same subject, with a content quality that is too low. If you are already under a penalty, do not panic. It’s always possible to go back by reworking your content to bring it back to good SEO optimization standards.

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