What is Keyword Stuffing and Why Is It So Bad?


Once upon a time, bloggers could use an unfortunate practice called keyword stuffing to improve their blog’s search rankings.

Yes, keyword stuffing once worked. At least, it worked in that it confused search engines enough to help their SEO.

SEO means search engine optimization. Bloggers work to improve their SEO by employing practices to move their site to the top of search results.

Keyword stuffing was once a practice that helped them do just that.

But readers who encountered a keyword-stuffed article found a horrible user experience.

“Sites could rank on a large variety of keywords by simply cluttering them onto a page, even if the keywords were unrelated and the site was absent of any real content,” WordStream notes.

So what is keyword stuffing?

One of the tricks of SEO is selecting the right keyword for your article. You choose the word or phrase your article is about and focus on that so that search engines will rank you better when someone searches that word or phrase.

For this article, for example, I selected “keyword stuffing” as the SEO keyword. That’s not exactly surprising since that’s what the article is about.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s suppose you were writing an article about discounted cellphones and, for SEO purposes, you selected “discount cellphones” as the keyword phrase. If you wrote an article like this, it would said to be “stuffed:”

It can be hard to found discount cellphones as technology improves. But our company knows how much customers want discount cellphones and that’s just why we made discount cellphones our specialty. So if you’re looking for discount cellphones your family, just visit our discount cellphones website.

Unfortunately, the example isn’t completely exaggerated.

Some websites used to produce copy that annoying just to make sure they ranked as high as they could.

And like I said, for a while, search engines would respond accordingly.

Fortunately, someone realized the part about the poor user experience. Search engines wised up.

And the practice suddenly stopped working as well as it once had.

That’s a good thing. It pushed content creators to focus on building useful content around the keywords rather than saturating the content with them.

SEO strategies now look at ‘keyword density’

I use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress on this site. One of the things it looks for is what Yoast refers to as “keyword density.” It calculates the percentage of the instance of the keyword or keyword phrase in the post.

If you write a 100-word article and use the keyword five times, you have a 5% keyword density.

SEO seems to like a minimum of about 300 words. But if you found a keyword used 15 times in a 300-word article, you’d still feel it was stuffed.

I like Yoast’s easy-to-understand color-coded bullets. It uses red, orange, yellow and green to denote how well you’re executing each step. Green, of course, means you’ve done well. Red means you need improvement.

To get a green bullet on keyword or keyword phrase density, Yoast wants a density of between 0.5% and 3%. If it sees less or more than that, the bullet goes red.

You then act accordingly, either added more instances or removing a few.

If your content is useful enough, you don’t need to stuff the keyword.

If your keywords are stuffed, your content almost can’t be that useful!

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.