There have been two Google algorithm updates including Panda (2011) and Penguin (2012). They were basically ground zero for an internet revolution.

Up until these back-to-back releases, the internet was something of a free-for-all for websites, both legitimate and fraudulent. They could do pretty much anything and everything to gain top page rankings with the search giant.

Many stuck strictly to white hat SEO practices. However, there were also plenty of shady shenanigans going on. Unscrupulous parties were basically gaming the system with all kinds of black hat SEO.

These included linking schemes, content farms, and of course, keyword stuffing. Unfortunately, legitimate businesses were getting outstripped, despite their best efforts. Plus, some eventually resorted to the same tactics just to compete. Hey, if you can’t beat them, join them, right?

Google was naturally displeased with ways in which it affected their customers. Therefore, they decided to put a stop to it with their Panda and Penguin releases. If you’re new to the game, you may be unaware of this going on just a few years ago.

You might wonder what keyword stuffing is and why it’s so bad. You may also want to know how you can avoid the practice. Plus, you should understand the penalties it entails. Here’s all you need to know about the unfortunate truth of keyword stuffing.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

This practice involves using copious amounts of trending keywords in content, Metadata, and so on. It’s done to attract an audience.

It can be done without any regard to whether the keywords are relevant to your industry, business, content, or your target customers. Keyword stuffing is all about increasing page rank in order to generate click-through and traffic.

The hope, in some cases, is that increasing traffic numbers can be used to boost advertising dollars for the site. Alternately, it will increase opportunities to make other conversions (membership, purchases, etc.).

Unfortunately, the keywords are not actually relevant to the content and the site’s subject matter. Thus, disgruntled Google users often navigate away as soon as they realize the content they’re seeking isn’t available.

How Does It Impact Users and Competing Businesses on Google?

Keyword stuffing brings visitors to websites under false pretenses. Perhaps, some websites thought the ends justified the means. They anticipated getting people in the door, so to speak. Therefore, they’d have the opportunity to make a compelling argument for conversion.

However, keyword stuffing, as a practice, does not lend itself well to impressing visitors. For one thing, those utilizing keyword stuffing might not even bother to try to fit it into content.

It was common practice at one time to simply post lists of keywords. Those who actually created content around the keywords often did so with little finesse. Thus, the keywords stuck out like a sore thumb.

This only served to anger Google users. These folks thought they were getting relevant content when they clicked on links related to their search queries. It also sidelined legitimate businesses working hard to provide relevant, high-quality content for users.

This, in turn, raised the ire of Google. Businesses might not have been worried about losing out on consumers that weren’t really interested in their products or services anyway. However, when Google took stock of the situation, the sleeping dragon awoke.

How Did Panda and Penguin Solve the Problem?

Panda was the first algorithm update to stand behind a declaration of quality content getting top rankings. Penguin honed the strategy.

Together, these two updates pinpointed major problem areas. That included keyword stuffing. It set about systematically eliminating sites that were using black hat practices to unfairly gain rankings.

Their goal with these updates was to make their customers happy. Google’s entire reputation rests on providing the best content matches for user search queries.

In order to do this, the search giant had to be creative. They had to find ways to make sure the most relevant and useful content would nab the top slots for search results.

There were sites that didn’t fall into line quickly. In turn, they got demoted and delisted in a massive purge akin to a virtual massacre. It was a technological bloodletting. Even relatively hardworking and legitimate businesses got caught up in it.

The message Google sent with these two major updates was, and still is, extremely clear. If you want to succeed and gain ranking on Google, you have to create quality content. You must stay away from black hat practices like keyword stuffing.

How Can You Avoid Keyword Stuffing but Still Benefit from Keywords?

In this day and age, pretty much everyone has the 4-1-1 on content creation and the use of keywords. Your content had better be top-notch. Additionally, the keywords you use must be relevant.

Of course, there is one small problem that many website owners and content creators face. How many keywords are too many? Can you use as many as you want as long as they’re relevant to your content and your audience?

Unfortunately, there are no guidelines on this score. When it comes to keyword density, you may have to use your own best judgment. However, there are a couple of things to consider.

Number one, of course, is relevance. Your keywords must match your content. In turn, users will find exactly what they’re expecting when clicking through to your website.

In addition, you should try to work keywords into your copy as seamlessly as possible. When you have a sentence like, “The best way to avoid a toothache is to visit dentist Birmingham AL”.

It’s pretty obvious there’s a keyword involved because the grammar and syntax are terrible. Choose keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant, but also invisible.

Optimizing for Users

The truth is, we’re no longer in a situation where it’s expedient to plan content for the purpose of catering to search engines. The Hummingbird algorithm was rolled out in 2013.

Google undertook an even bigger overhaul of the system. One of the most important changes was the focus on conversational speech and the meaning behind words.

Maybe you didn’t get the picture before. The idea is that Google wants to make users happy. Your goal is to make Google happy. Therefore, your focus should be on optimizing content to match user wants and needs. Thus, they’re satisfied with the results Google delivered, and with your content.

If you have any comments about this topic or suggestions about future topics leave them in the comment box below.

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