What is keyword stuffing? How does it affect SEO?

Keyword stuffing is an old digital marketing practice where you put your keywords as many times as you can in the copy of your page. The goal is to get a higher ranking on search engines. However, the quality of the content is usually poor. That leads to a poor user experience and annoyed visitors to your page. Most readers will recognize this tactic and leave your page, turning to your competitor.  

Some examples of keyword stuffing include:

    • Repeating the same words or phrases over and over on the page, which makes the copy look unnatural
    • Lists of keywords that add no value to the reader
    • Adding keywords that don't fit in with the topic of the content

There is also something called invisible keyword stuffing. This is often not as easy to detect and can appear in several ways, including:

    • Overuse of keywords in the alt text
    • Hiding white text on a white background, so the keywords are found only by search engines
    • Using too many keywords in meta tags or comment tags
    • Hiding keywords in webpage code

Whatever method you try, keyword stuffing can impact your SEO but not always how you want it to. 

How does keyword stuffing affect SEO?

Marketers used to use keyword stuffing to boost clients' websites. At one time, it increased search engine rankings. However, search engines are now more sophisticated, and keyword stuffing can actually hurt your site. 

Search engines are now able to recognize keyword stuffing tactics. The overuse of keywords will now get your website penalized. 

The main reason the rules have changed regarding keyword stuffing is because of the user experience. When content has too many keywords, it can sound unnatural and be awkward to read. These users will then leave your page and go elsewhere. That means you'll lose a potential customer. But search engines will also notice how many people bounce from your website, and you will lose authority. In other words, the search engines will recognize that users are not finding value in your content, and they'll bump you down in the search engine results. 

It's good practice to create quality content without overusing keywords. Rather, develop something that readers will find value in, and search engines will reward your site. 

How do search engines penalize you for keyword stuffing?

If search engines recognize that you've been keyword stuffing on your site, there are several ways they will punish you. These include:


Sites that are identified as employing keyword stuffing tactics will be demoted further down the search engine results. And that means fewer people will see your content and click through to your page. 


Sometimes search engines will remove your page from their index altogether. That can have serious implications on your digital marketing efforts. 

When it comes to keyword stuffing penalties, one thing to think about is that it will be hard to get back up into a search engine's rankings. You'll need to put extra effort in if you get caught and demoted or removed. 

Tips for using keywords effectively

While you don't want to overuse them, keywords should still be included in your content. It helps to improve your SEO rank. And the higher you rank, the more people will see your content. So, here are some ways that you can use keywords to boost your SEO without being penalized by search engines. 

Create valuable content

Rather than writing content that is easy for search engine crawlers to rank, create something that has value for your visitors.  Focus on creating content that is useful, informative, and suits your buyer personas. Then work your keywords naturally into your copy. 

Minimize keywords

Try using just one or two keywords for your content. Focus on just a couple of words or terms that you want to rank for. It's a good way to help hone your content and let search engines know what your content is about. 

Steer clear of keyword overuse

You don't need to have your keyword appear a specific number of times to get a high ranking on search engines. And while it's good to sprinkle your keywords through the copy, you shouldn't repeat it over and over again.  This can create text that is difficult to read because it sounds unnatural. 

Include secondary keywords

To help make your content sound more natural, use secondary keywords or long-tail keywords as long as they fit naturally into the text. 

Write longer content

If you write longer pieces, you'll have more room for keyword density. This refers to the percentage of times keywords appear in your content. You can calculate the keyword density by dividing the number of words in the content by the number of times the keyword appears in that copy. A good rule of thumb is to keep it at two percent. Moreover, search engines will see longer pieces of content as having more information and value to users. 

Include keywords in page elements

There are some vital elements where your keyword should appear to help boost your SEO ranking. These include:

        • First paragraph of the content
        • Alt image tag
        • Meta description
        • Title tag
        • One or more subheadings
        • Title of the page

By including it sparingly in your copy and these page elements, you'll be using best practices for boosting your search engine rankings. 

When you need a digital marketing team that uses savvy SEO tactics to boost your rankings without turning to keyword stuffing, contact Soap Media.