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The Importance of Avoiding Keyword Stuffing

Jason Roy

“Keyword stuffing” is a technique used on web sites to fill a page with irrelevant keywords and phrases, whether seen or unseen by a browser. The technique is employed when a webmaster or SEO company attempts to manipulate the web site’s search engine relevancy and ranking in a search result. 

Keyword stuffing is considered a ‘covert’ and unethical method of attempting to gain favorable search results, also known as Spamdexing. Spamdexing involves inclusion and repetition of frequently searched keywords and phrases that have little or nothing to do with the actual content of the web site.

Frequent Methods of Keyword Stuffing

Some webmasters and SEO firms are clever in their sneaky practices of generating and manipulating search engine rankings with keywords. Here are some common methods of keyword stuffing:

Doorway pages – Doorways are stand-along web pages that are designed to attract the attention of a search engine with the intention of sending a visitor to another web site. Also known as Bridge or Gateway pages, Doorways usually have little actual design and are sometimes even copied from other high-ranking web sites. Rather, they are simply intended to get visitors from a search result and provide a redirection link to the actual website that may have nothing in common with the visitor’s search.   To garner rankings in the search engines, webmasters will often stuff frequently-searched keywords into these doorway pages, which is very misleading to the end user. 

Cloaking – Cloaking is another type of Doorway page method that involves hiding or ‘cloaking’ what a visitor sees from a search engine, and vice versa. Cloaked web pages send keyword stuffed information to a search engine crawler, while providing completely different content to the actual visitor. Savvy web designers implement this sneaky method by writing in server-side scripts that recognize an IP address as a search engine, and subsequently, present a web page with different content than the visible one.  

Page Content – Webmasters and SEO firms also use actual web page content into which they stuff keywords and phrases. If you read a web pages and see a plethora of awkward uses of specific keywords and keyphrases, then the page has likely been stuffed. In addition, unseen from a visitor’s browser is text in the

and tags. A web designer may attempt to “stuff” these unviewed tags with a variety of popular keywords and phrases in hopes that a search engine will index the web site. 

In addition, web designers can hide text in the content that is actually seen. By employing “alt text” for images, using background colored text, and even placing small text boxes filled with multiple words that may not be seen by a viewer, these tactics are designed to manipulate the web pages search index.

Why Keyword Stuffing Is Bad Practice

Search engines like Yahoo! and Google do not condone the use of keyword stuffing. Google’s webmaster guidelines states:

Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking…

…Google's aim is to give our users the most valuable and relevant search results. Therefore, we frown on practices that are designed to manipulate search engines and deceive users by directing them to sites other than the ones they selected, and that provide content solely for the benefit of search engines. Google may take action on doorway sites and other sites making use of these deceptive practice, including removing these sites from the Google index.

Simply stated, the use of keyword stuffing can be cause for complete removal from a search engine index. Therefore, it is much wiser for the sake of your web site’s longevity to employ proper keyword techniques.

Proper Keyword Usage

Should keywords be avoided? Absolutely not! However, keywords must be used appropriately so that you do not abuse or manipulate them. Here are some of the best practices when using keywords:

HEAD – In the section of your web html coding, you can use theand tags for relevant keyword and phrase listing. Title keywords should be accurate, short, descriptive, and not exceed 5 to 10 words. META tags for description and keywords should also use descriptive text of no more than 10 to 20 words.

BODY – In the body of your web page, you can employ keywords that bear more weight with search engine algorithms. Headings and sub-headings should use short, descriptive keywords relevant to the page. Some webmasters also believe that you should incorporate your most important keyword in the first sentence of the page. 

Throughout the body text, use relevant keywords and phrases frequently, remembering that the copy should be still easy to read by the human visitor. Reusing one or two keywords in the body of text is not considered “stuffing,” but rather “keyword optimization.” The appropriate keyword density in the text body should be about 3% to 6%. By using keyword optimization in your page content, search engines can find the page easier in a keyword search and index it more relevantly.

Also in the body of your text you should include link text, or keyword text with an anchor () to another relevant URL. In addition, your images also should have relevant keywords in the “alt” text, but not too many.  

Keyword usage is essential for your web page to be found by search engines and get indexed on search results. Avoid the temptation to “stuff” too many keywords within your web page. Doing so can eliminate your web site from search engine indexes. Rather, be generous with keywords in the proper areas most recognized and accepted by search engine guidelines.

RESOURCES:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doorway_pages

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/avoid-keyword-stuffing/

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66358

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