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How to Check for Keyword Stuffing

Written by Rosie Wait on .
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Keywords play a pivotal role in helping your content connect with your target audience. When used within authoritative, useful content they can help pages rank higher in the search results. Your keywords are the phrases and words people use when looking for something on a search engine platform. Search engines look at the content’s relevance, quality, intent and authority when considering where that piece should then rank. If you have included the right keywords in your content and have produced a high-quality piece of writing, Google will recognise its potential and rank it higher on the results page. There are, of course, many ranking factors, but for the purposes of this article, we are looking at keywords and content specifically.

The world of search engine optimisation is one that changes rapidly. As it becomes more and more sophisticated, it gets increasingly familiar with content creators who don't play by the rules.

You may have heard of the term “keyword stuffing”. Despite efforts to combat it, it is one of the many tactics that continues to be used to try to manipulate search algorithms into promoting and ranking pages.

In this article, we will tell you how to check for and avoid keyword stuffing within your own content or content you are checking. Learn how to do SEO the right way and avoid ‘black hat’ techniques that could result in your website being issued penalties, seeing rankings drop or - worst case scenario - being wiped completely from the search engines.

What is keyword stuffing?

By definition, keyword stuffing is the act of excessively filling your content with keywords to boost rankings without actually having to deliver high-quality articles. These keywords are often oddly placed and repetitive and even to those with no knowledge of SEO would appear as poorly written pieces of content.

In years gone by, this black hat tactic was a successful way of boosting organic visibility. But as search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they are now able to identify keyword stuffing and penalise websites that engage in this practice.

The Panda update (an update to Google’s search algorithm) back in 2011 targeted low-quality sites that were using such tactics to elevate their rankings on Google. This update was implemented to lower the rank of these poor-quality sites that had managed to rank highly because of black hat tactics rather than because their content was worthy of the position. The Panda update meant that content worthy of appearing near the top of the search engine results would be able to claim their rightful position. This was a big step forward in the sophisticated evolution of search engine optimisation as substandard sites began to be filtered out. In fact, 12% of all search results were impacted because of this update.

Types of keyword stuffing

There are two types of keyword stuffing; visible and invisible;

Visible keyword stuffing

When keywords are quite literally “stuffed” into as much of the content as possible, regardless of how it reads. This repetitive process often puts keywords completely out of context, is obvious to the user and makes for a poor user experience. It is highly likely that the content will be very low quality and offer no benefit to the user, resulting in a high bounce rate. Google will be very quick to recognise this.

A paragraph with the phrase "app store credit" highlighted in red

Invisible keyword stuffing

As search engines have become more sophisticated, so too have the tactics to try and get past the algorithms. Some content creators have discovered ways to hide keywords from readers whilst still targeting search engine algorithms by hiding text. This includes putting keywords in HTML code and changing the colour of the text to make it less visible to the user. Whilst creators may be able to hide their keyword stuffing from the user, this tactic doesn’t get past Google. Actually, these methods are easier for Google to identify as ‘black hat’ as it can tell that the text colour has been intentionally made the same as the background or that text has been hidden amongst an HTML code.

How to check for keyword stuffing

As we know, keywords are the bread and butter of the content we create. But they need to sit naturally within the article, not stuffed in wherever there is space or opportunity. A well-written piece of content will flow and the keywords will sit amongst other high-value statistics, images and information that complement them.

When checking content for keyword stuffing there are some important things to consider.

Look for repetition and any oddly placed phrases

The main thing to look out for is repetition and flow of your content. Continuously using the same phrases or words within a piece of writing is a definite red flag that you shouldn't ignore. For example, if I was writing about fridge freezers and I continuously mentioned fridge freezers within my content about fridge freezers, you would notice that I mentioned fridge freezers a lot. My article about fridge freezers wouldn't flow as naturally as it would if I hadn't mentioned fridge freezers so many times. See what I did there?

Use the free tools

The following tools are free and can assist you in checking for keyword stuffing:

  • SEO Quake - A free browser extension, offering convenient access to organic search data with one click. It currently integrates with popular web browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera.
  • Yoast SEO for WordPress, Shopify and Drupal - A WordPress plugin designed to optimise your website’s performance in major search engines such as Google. It gives you the tools to elevate your content to the highest levels of SEO proficiency and readability.

Consider paid tools

The tools below operate on a monthly payment basis and can be used to help elevate your checking of content:

  • Surfer SEO - A software tool that is designed to use A.I for the purpose of assisting the user in creating content that ranks highly in Google search results.
  • SimilarContent - The perfect SEO content solution and predictor of Google rankings. This tool helps you create brilliant content aimed at your target audience while ensuring Google optimisation.
  • SEMrush (content checker) - A tool designed to enhance online visibility and uncover valuable marketing insights. This tool operates across a range of services including SEO, PPC keyword research and campaign management.

Create high-quality SEO content with Beyond Your Brand

At Beyond Your Brand, we go far beyond the basics of SEO. We know it’s about more than creating a beautiful website for you. It’s about understanding your audience and ensuring that your keywords rank highly to enable you to grow your business.

We are targeted and focused and will work with you to understand your every need in order to deliver results that matter.

To discuss our SEO services, contact us today. We love a chat!

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