I recently was asked to do one of my infamous Free Website Review Videos and quickly stopped the process and called the artist directly. Someone (from a million years ago in internet time measurements) had convinced her that she needed keywords put everywhere and in every paragraph. It’s called Keyword Stuffing and it will KILL your ranking.
Google (the all-mighty ruler of the internets) will not allow your site to come up in a search if they “see” (don’t ask, it’s complicated, but they “see” stuff!) multiple references that are clearly there to try and “game the system”.
I am so cautious that I don’t even want to put a sentence in this blog post as a sample, so I created a sample and I turned it into an image so google can’t read it and get angry at me. Here it is:
Do you think I am exaggerating?
I am NOT! Not a bit.
This practice of stuffing “key” words is often a result of someone hiring an SEO “specialist”. This dental office had their entire site run by a company that included an SEO Ranking Package in their website maintenance fees. Another key to this practice includes putting a phone number and address in several places on a page. Don’t do this. You will tick-off Google.
To be clear, this was originally used by many who were trying to “game the system”. It worked and it became a common practice until Google fought back. Amazingly, this kind of stuffing has not been accepted by Google Search Engines for several years. I am shocked every time I see that someone has been “sold” on this practice.
I am sorry to say that some of you reading this have this exact problem on your sites. It pains me to see this and I was compelled to cover this subject when a favorite artist of mine shared her site’s link when commenting.
It’s especially rampant on blog posts that are done by third parties. I beg you to take control of your messaging. Just say “no” to these stuffers. (Heck… you could even hire me instead.)
Meanwhile, if you are a victim or an innocent perpetrator of this practice, please give this a high priority. Please stop before you do permanent damage. Key Word Stuffing will and probably has already, KILLED your ranking.
In some cases, your site could even be banned! It could take months even years for your reputation to be trusted again. You will need to have a long history of “organic” – purely heartfelt content – filled with natural language to show your intentions are to be useful and valuable.
Google wants search results that are relevant so people will trust Google's authority. Click To Tweet
Google says it best right here. Google wants a natural voice. Google wants content that is, helpful, informative, and honest. Google wants search results that are relevant so people will trust Google’s authority. They want to remain the number one search engine. Google is not doing anything other than growing its brand and its reputation by helping you do the same.
If every Google search you did, brought up information that was light-on-facts or even useless, you will not trust search results. Google wants relevant and satisfying results for that first page of listings. And the second, third, and onward pages, too.
They will accept some keyword variations, also known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. Relax – it’s just jargon that means you can describe something in similar terms and not get Google all crazy.
So, for example, I might say that I do free website reviews, and a bit later I might say that I check websites for common marketing and call-to-action issues for free. I am saying (emphasizing) the same thing, but I am not repeating a phrase. Google accepts that as conversational. It accepts synonyms.
As long as you don’t try to overdo it with your synonyms! Google is much smarter than you can imagine. It can even contextualize words that are homonyms like “bat”. If there is talk about a cave – that’s the critter. If there is talk about the team, it’s the baseball bat. So if someone puts “Best bat for baseball” in a search engine, no one needs fear they will be faced with a website showing off a giant hairy bat hanging upside down in a cave. And vice versa.
However, rankings are not the only reason that you want to avoid keyword stuffing. Meeting Google’s desire to bring good, useful, and trustworthy information forward when someone is doing a search should be your overall goal, too.
Remember the Goldfish?
The article I wrote about our attention spans being less than that of a goldfish was a game changer for many who read that article. Many of you had me re-write sections of your sites to bring them down to scale to better match the flighty nature of the human species these days. Less is more. Every. Word. Counts.
So think about it: we already have low-attention spans. Couple that with the fact that 55% of us spend less than 15 seconds on website pages and this keyword stuffing activity is a big nail in a very tight coffin.
It wasn’t smart to game the system in 2011 when Google Released it’s Panda Update and began their crusade against spammy and irrelevant content. The rules have only become more stringent.
So if anyone tells you that they have special skills with SEO and are offering “search engine submission services” just turn and run. If you really want to increase your SEO, then learn SEO. You may not be able to implement it and create noticeable changes – it’s a moving target at best – but you can at least stay out of trouble with Google.
For the vast majority of us, we will get people to our sites because of referrals, Social Media activity and, of course, professional email marketing using an Email Service Provider like Constant Contact or a myriad of others.
I want to be very clear: I have no deep knowledge of SEO. I only know for a fact what NOT to do. And I do know enough to help get a not well-designed site to work better most of the time. And I have some terrific sources that I turn to for deeper understanding.
There are many sites I turn to. Among the favs is Moz.com, Wordstream.com and Google themselves – via Matt Cutt’s blogs. Each of these sites and resource have great articles on this issue and can help you understand SEO and Google’s ever-changing and increasingly sophisticated algorithms.
But there is more to life than algorithms.
It’s about quality, not quantity and removing the “stuffing” is just a start
Of course the more people you can drive to your site the better – assuming once they arrive they will stay and eventually become a client. However, you want them to feel excited, charmed, or even enticed by your artistry, right?
You want them to feel like there is a real human behind the site. You want them to feel like you are someone they could sit and have a chat with. You want them to feel comfortable enough to consider purchasing.
That’s the goal. That’s the only real goal. They need to land on virtually ANY page and just want to dig in and explore more.
So be honest with yourself: Does every page on your site create a little romance or move people into considering ownership? Do all the dots connect? Do people truly know what you’re offering? Do they have an easy way to purchase?
Details, Details, Details (hope Google knows that is a “phrase” not word stuffing!)
There are many monthly, and sometimes even weekly chores that all website owners must pay attention to in order to impress the Google Kingdom. If you can’t take the time to upload a new item with a great photo (for your admirers – not so much for Googles) and sprinkle in some fabulously enticing description (for Google to enjoy), then don’t bother. Quality counts.
In fact, if you find yourself never updating your site, then maybe you should hire someone to help because sites that have no changes for long periods of time are seen as not trustworthy. They are not considered sources of relevant information or current products.
In addition, Google likes you to have an active role on the internet. They feel more confident that you are a real live person or business if you keep dusting off the shelves and rearranging things.
And we all make some mistakes with grammar and spelling, but it turns out that Google is even policing badly written content. I run a free editing program over my copy before I hit publish. I use Grammerly.com. It’s not perfect, but it mostly works with some quirks. When I am writing over 10,000 words a week (upwards of 40,000!) I am bound to make a mistake or ten.
If you see errors here, I am grateful for corrections. Don’t clutter up my comments with those (that would not be good and relevant information for ranking purposes), but feel free to email me directly.
More importantly, anytime you see errors on your own site, be sure to fix them asap. You never know when Google might visit that page and ding you!
Want me to check our your website?
It’s a 10-minute video. No obligation. And yes… I am brutally honest!