The over-optimization of keywords in SEO or Keyword Stuffing is heavily sanctioned by Google! How to guard against it and work on its content by avoiding it?
SEO keywords are at the heart of your SEO strategy. They should be used enough to allow search engines to understand your content and get you into the top search results.
Be careful though, not too much is needed. Keyword over-optimization, or Keyword Stuffing, is an SEO practice that, while tempting, can lead to serious penalties for your website.
Definition of Keyword Stuffing
Keyword Stuffing literally translates to “keyword stuffing”. This is a technique used in natural referencing which consists of using keywords excessively. When this is intentional, the practice is carried out in such a way as to make them invisible to the Internet user.
Considered black hat SEO, “Keyword Stuffing” aims to help content rank better in search results. In fact, it is not. It was an effective practice in the 2000s. It was then commonplace to “hide” a piece of text composed solely of keywords. This could be in the form of a list of keywords, separated by a comma, or more complete content but returning the same keyword several times per sentence.
This text, which has no relevance for readers, was then formatted so as to be visible only to search engines, with a font color identical to that of the background, for example. This practice can also affect metadata and all the so-called “hot” areas of SEO, in which case, we also speak of over-optimization.
Keyword stuffing is now an obsolete practice that is considered “spam” by search engines.
What are the risks of over-optimizing your keywords?
Since 2012, Keyword Stuffing has been heavily sanctioned by search engine algorithms. This is particularly the case since the updates Google Panda which filters content deemed to be of poor quality, and Google Penguin which fights against links deemed to be fake, and the over-optimization of keywords.
They are now able to determine without any problem whether the use of your keywords is reasoned or not.
The consequences of overusing keywords can be very serious, ranging from downgrading in the best of cases to having your site disappear completely from the SERPs.
Apart from penalty issues, Keyword Stuffing is also a practice that harms the user experience when detected. It decreases the quality of the content delivered to your audience.
How to avoid Keyword Stuffing?
The line between optimization and Keyword Stuffing can sometimes be thin, especially for SEO newbies who might be overdoing it.
To avoid this, keep in mind that optimizing your content should not come at the expense of its quality. Make sure that your text is written in a natural way and optimize your tags by varying the angles of your subject and/or by dealing with salient points. In particular the Hn tags, but also the H1 tag and the meta title tag that appears in search results.
Use semantics and lexical field
It is generally recommended to work on the semantics and the lexical field of your keywords to enrich and optimize content in SEO. By varying the angles and the vocabulary, you will allow Google a better interpretation of your content and a good reading fluidity for your audience.
The goal is to aim for the first position on Google on your main keywords, even if it remains difficult and in no way guaranteed.
Control the density rate of your keywords
Do not hesitate to calculate the density rate of your keywords, in order to check for any over-optimization. If you write in WordPress, plugins such as Yoast SEO will tell you this rate, but it’s still just a simple indicator.
Don’t forget that beyond over-optimization, your readers could quickly leave your page because of the heavy text to read. This will increase your bounce rate, one of the main indicators of Google Analytics.
Although there is no official rule, it is generally considered that for a good referencing, this rate must be between 2% and 6%, a large maximum.
Enrich your content with long articles
Also, consider long articles to broaden the semantics and the lexical field, and thus allow Google to better understand your content. In a recent study, we could read that more than 50% of the articles that were positioned in first place on Google, had more than 2000 words.
Long articles also make it possible to divide a subject into several chapters or subtitles, and thus to use H2 tags.
Do not hesitate to alternate between short articles and long articles to also meet the expectations of Internet users.
Penalties related to over-optimization in SEO
As previously raised, over-optimization of content is not appreciated by Google and is considered spam. Among the main Google algorithms, we have seen that it was Penguin who took care of this in parallel with Panda on the overall quality of content. To be penalized, you must still be at the limit of your own will or if you inadvertently repeat an over-optimization on several contents of the same subject, with too low a content quality. If you are already under a penalty, don’t “panic”, it is always possible to go back by reworking your content to bring it back to the correct standards of SEO optimization.