Ever since its inception, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been anything but static. The best SEO practices continued to evolve, inviting new rules for the game every now and then. This dynamism is due to the fact that Google keeps cracking down on spamming and black hat SEO techniques in order to make search results more relevant and in-line with user’s actual needs. This resulted in stricter algorithms for determining page ranks, which demanded frequent changes in SEO strategies to stay afloat.
So, what may have been considered a best practice a while back might possibly be a flop today.
One such spamming technique is keyword stuffing. In simple terms, it can be defined as the practice of saturating a piece of content with keywords (unnaturally and out of context) in the hope of increasing the search rankings. Though it can be argued that the idea of cheating the Google crawler may have worked in the past, today it is best to avoid it completely.
Here are a few things you need to know in order to make an informed decision yourself:
How Google Works
In principle, for any search engine to work well, it must diligently follow the three steps below:
- Crawl the Web
- Index the Pages
- Rank the Pages (based on relevancy, authenticity, novelty, user experience)
Once the above process is over, next comes the challenge of presenting the results when a search is initiated. In the case of Google, whenever a search is made the algorithms (popularly called spiders) fetch the web pages that are already indexed in the web. Subsequently, the spiders follow the links on the fetched web pages to fetch more pages until the whole index is searched.
Now, with a plethora of pages at its disposal, the search engine sifts the pages to rank them on the basis of certain questions.
For example, how many times has a keyword appeared in the page? Is the page from a high-ranked website? Is the page spam? Are visitors reading the page or bouncing back immediately?
A search engine normally asks more than 200 questions to determine the rank it must give to a page. Interestingly, keywords do hold importance, but they are not the only factor.
Here are some intriguing facts:
- A website with strong HTTPS encryption is more likely to be ranked higher.
- Backlinks continue to remain a significant factor in making you enjoy higher Google rankings.
- Having a mobile-optimized version of a website boosts the ranking factor.
- Longer posts are more likely to appear earlier as compared to shorter ones.
So, if you want to rank higher, make sure you do not just focus on keywords as it may prove unsuccessful.
Keyword density is simply defined as the number of times a keyword appears on a web page vis-a-vis the total number of words in terms of percentage.
The earlier practice was to increase the keyword density in order to boost the ranking. Later, it was argued that anything between 2-5 percent is ideal. However, the fact is that there is no perfect percentage for keyword density. All you should have in your text is perfect flow and readability.
Consider the below text:
Round neck T-shirts are in vogue. Our round neck T-shirts can be teamed up with any color jeans as the round neck T-shirts go well with all kinds of casuals. Pick up exciting colored round neck T-shirts online and flaunt your round neck T-shirts everywhere.
If you are lucky, the merciless stuffing of the word “round neck T-shirt” may not be considered by Google as spam; yet, it is highly likely that such content may put a visitor off.
Can Get You Banned
This is the worst of all consequences. As Google continues to improve the quality of its search results and give users exactly what they are looking for, it is also aware of cheats, and it frequently figures out new ways to identify the sites that are using questionable strategies.
As a result of keyword stuffing, you may not just fail to enjoy high search rankings, but you’ll also run the risk of being completely banned by Google.
Google discourages this practice and says, “Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
To conclude, the changing world of SEO requires strategies to be updated from time to time. What worked in the past may not work in the present.
Keyword stuffing will not let you enjoy rich dividends, good content will. So, produce original material, offer something of value to users, and rest assured that your SEO will benefit from it.