Last post we talked about Meta Tags descriptions and keywords and we left off telling you that you can be penalized for stuffing your keywords. Some of you in SEM know this but most of our clients don’t. There is some gray area so let’s do some digging and find out what the rules are.
Here is Google’s official statement on keyword stuffing
"Keyword stuffing" refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results. Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
To fix this problem, review your site for misused keywords. Typically, these will be lists or paragraphs of keywords, often randomly repeated. Check carefully, because keywords can often be in the form of hidden text, or they can be hidden in title tags or alt attributes.
O-K? A little ambiguous but it’s a start. Google’s keyword statement leaves some room for interpretation and it’s this type of thing that can get you in trouble. It does say that ‘Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results’ but surely there must be some clearer indication of what this means. It doesn’t say how many keywords I can use or should I use all of my sites keywords on every page or should I use page specific keywords – keywords that only show up in the content of that page and nothing else. It doesn’t mention using keywords that aren’t specific to my page, like Paris Hilton or iPhone. Hmm, let’s do some more investigating.
One place we found some clearer information was a post on SEO Consultants. They state;
"Use a "keyword" meta-tag to list key words for the document. Use a distinct list of keywords that relate to the specific page on your site instead of using one broad set of keywords for every page."
Now we’re getting somewhere! If you are going to use keywords in your meta tag make sure that they are evident in the body copy of the page. Avoid site specific keywords for every page. Also, do not add any spammy words like Paris Hilton or iPhone if your page has nothing to do with either of them. So we have our answer, short and sweet – to the point!
To SEM folks like us at Schipul this type of information is common knowledge but as we see it takes some investigating to find out what the rules are.
This type of ethical Search Engine Optimization or SEO is called White SEO. The practice of stuffing your keywords is called Black Hat SEO and can work for you in the short term and can generate attention. This will most likely be a bad thing as we see below.
In a post on Matt Cutts blog, head of the Google’s Webspam team, he points to a site by Alex Chiu and blatant body keyword stuffing. Below is a screeshot of Alex Chiu’s site.
He has added a small text area near the bottom of his page as shown in the screenshot to the right. This text area contains an insane amount of keywords, some that make sense ‘Circulatory System’, some that don’t ‘Conservative Mission Wallpapers’. Chui’s keyword stuffing area represents about 50KB of keywords. Matt was kind enough to post them all for us. Just what is ‘Tupac Kazaa Hospital’? Who knows. Check out the list here.
This is the kind of stuff that can get you banned so don’t do it!
So in closing do things ethically and you will reap the rewards. Don’t keyword stuff, it’s bad.