Keyword Stuffing

Stuffing? Like on Thanksgiving? 🦃😋

Keyword stuffing is when a site tries to rank for a specific keyword by using it as many times as possible in a piece of content. Keyword stuffing is officially against Webmaster Guidelines, as per Google’s Panda algorithm update.  It is considered a black hat SEO ranking tactic, and is grounds for a penalty from Google. 

This tactic was seen often in the older days of the net, when Google’s algorithm updates hadn’t caught up to stopping it. In sites that popped up in the late 1990s and even into the early 2010s (as the Panda update occurred in 2011), it wasn’t uncommon to see obvious signs of keyword stuffing at work.

Why is keyword stuffing bad?

Keyword stuffing is frowned upon for a few reasons. For starters, a blog post or piece of content that’s stuffed to the gills with the same or similar keywords repeatedly is just plain unpleasant to read. While someone might not expect a moving work of literature when looking up the best white elephant gifts for an office party, they still want what they find to be readable and enjoyable to consume. The same word or phrase used dozens of times in one paragraph will get old quickly, leading someone to click off to another site.

sing the above example of ‘white elephant gifts for the office,’ which would a user rather read? 


While the second passage is shorter, it reads much more naturally. It only uses the keyword once, but it gets its point across without being bogged down with repetitive language.

Even someone who is not SEO savvy can recognize spammy content when they see it. Spam is exactly what Google is trying to prevent. If a website has yet to be penalized by the search engine, people clicking away to one with better content will result in less dwell time, a high bounce rate, and wholly tanked conversions, which will serve as an additional punishment for the behavior.

Google’s Panda algorithm, which is responsible for removing spammy content, works domain-wide. That means the entire website, not just one page, will be penalized and experience a drastic decline in rankings. 

Types of keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing can take many forms, and none of them are suitable for your site’s SEO health. A few ways that black hat SEO employs keyword stuffing include: 

  • Repeating a keyword or phrase in a way that is unnatural to the flow and syntax of a sentence or paragraph. 
  • Inserting keywords that are irrelevant to the overall purpose of a web page or topic. 
  • Blocks of keywords 
  • Including keywords into a page’s coding 
  • Hidden text SEO, or making keywords invisible and embedding them into the text (usually by making the font color the same as the site’s background.) 

More on keyword stuffing

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