October 25, 2023
October 25, 2023
Whilst it is common knowledge that optimising content for selected keywords is a fantastic way to improve your website ranking in search engines, what many people neglect to consider is that overusing keywords can actually lead to very negative consequences. This can affect the overall success of your campaign. Let’s get right to it and find out whether there is a downside of having too many keywords.
Using too many keywords is bad for SEO because it negatively affects user experience and can seriously harm your site’s rankings. Not only will the content be difficult to read for users but search engines actually now penalise sites who use keyword stuffing to increase their rankings.
Keep reading to find out why keyword stuffing is bad for SEO and how to avoid this when optimising your content.
Yes. Using too many keywords throughout your site is bad for user experience and can seriously harm your site’s rankings. This is primarily because content packed with keywords is simply unreadable and unhelpful to users. On top of this, search engines now favour pages that create a great experience for users. The content itself is actually helpful and relevant.
When optimising web pages for search engines like Google, we know that it can be tempting to take the easy way out, using all kinds of manipulation tactics to quickly get higher rankings. You may even be thinking,
‘If search engines use keywords to match pages with search queries, why not stuff as many of them as possible onto a single page so that it ranks for several highly searchable keywords?’
Unfortunately, using keywords throughout content does not work this way. In fact, using black hat SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing do you way more harm than good. Google dislikes these types of tactics because they focus on beating the search engine algorithm rather than creating a greater user experience. So, what is keyword stuffing?
‘The practice of excessively filling a web page with keywords with the ultimate goal of gaming the search giant’s ranking system.’
Keyword stuffing can be broken down into two distinct categories: visible and invisible.
Users are likely to spot keyword stuffing and become frustrated by it, even if they are not strictly aware of what you are doing. This is because the content will likely be difficult and clunky to read. More often than not, content brimmed with keywords feels more like a weird sales pitch rather than an informative, user-orientated article.
Google does not want to see overly-optimised sites that focus more on SEO tricks rather than creating the types of content users really want to see. If you are overusing keywords in your content, chances are, you’ll likely get penalised by Google. This may result in your page decreasing in ranking or it may be removed altogether. All in all, I think we can agree that keyword stuffing is not a good long-term SEO strategy.
To read more about keyword stuffing, take a look at our insightful article, ‘How To Avoid Keyword Stuffing – Keyword Best Practices’.
Before we move onto another downside of using too many keywords, we thought it might be beneficial to outline the history of keyword stuffing over time. Not long ago, keyword stuffing wasn’t just acceptable, it was actually commonplace. This is because Google hadn’t yet gotten wise enough to understand the detrimental impact of excessive SEO techniques. However, this all changed in 2012 when the Penguin update was rolled out. As part of this upgrade, Google began to penalise sites for measures such as keyword stuffing because it detracts from the user experience. After all, who wants to read a single keyword 15 times in the span of three paragraphs?
Since this update was implemented, keyword stuffing has virtually disappeared, however, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t still overusing certain terms. While you may not be cramming keywords into your webpages, you may still be using too many for the size of content on the page.
Keyword cannibalisation is an SEO issue that occurs when several pages on a site target the same keywords and serve the same purpose, and in doing so harm each other’s search engine rankings. This is because the search engine will not be able to determine which page is the most relevant result for associated queries.
Keyword cannibalisation can happen when you:
It’s important to understand that keyword cannibalisation in SEO is not simply caused by mentioning the same keyword on multiple pages. If the search intent is different, you can actually target a keyword on multiple pages. For example, a blog outlining what cyber security means will not cannibalise with a service page selling your cyber security services because they both have a different search intent.
Keyword cannibalisation is bad for SEO because it:
Before you begin fixing your cannibalisation issues, pick one preferred page (primary page) for each affected keyword and make this preference clear to Google so that it knows which to rank highest. The best way to do this depends on the circumstances.
Here are some of the most common solutions we see day to day:
In order to optimise your content to increase search engine rankings, keywords need to be used moderately, like most things in life. To avoid keyword stuffing and cannibalisation, focus on creating high-quality content that engages your audience. Remember to write for humans, not for search engines, and conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant keywords and phrases for your text. According to Google, you should
‘Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.’
Once you’ve gathered your keywords, use them strategically in your content, but avoid overusing them. Use synonyms and related terms to diversify your content and avoid repetition. Providing genuine value to your audience is the best way to improve your search engine rankings without resorting to keyword stuffing. It’s also important to structure your content in a way that provides more context for search engines. For example, using HTML heading tags (H1, H2, H3 etc) to break up your content and make it more readable. Try adding target keywords to your headers and other technical aspects of your site (meta tags and alt tags) but only where it makes sense to do so.
Here are some of our tip tips when it comes to optimising a web page for a keyword:
If you’re keen to learn more about using keywords throughout your site, get in touch with our friendly team at Wildcat Digital. We can help you create top-quality content that targets an appropriate amount of keywords. This will help your pages achieve higher rankings and generate more traffic back to your site. We understand how important it is to provide information that users are looking for which is why we carry out extensive keyword research before beginning any content.
To arrange your free consultation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Alternatively, if you have any SEO-related questions, why not check out our ‘You Ask, We Answer’ content hub. Our experts are here to help.
Each page on your website should have a cohesive content and keyword strategy. The keyword should be relevant to your content and something that users are searching for (you’ll want to consider search volume here). Alongside your seed (primary) keyword, try to include other relevant keywords throughout your page.
When you’re trying to decide whether your content is optimised enough or too much, keyword density will be the metric you want to look out for. Try to keep your keyword density below 5%, keeping it in the 2-4% range is the typical sweet spot that Google and readers like to see. When it comes to how many keywords you should be targeting, it depends on the length of the content. Trying to fit fifteen keywords into a 400-word press release isn’t going to go over so well, but adding the same number to a 2,000 word blog post would be fine.
You want to avoid using the same keyword on multiple pages as it can cause cannibalisation issues. Essentially, this means that search engines will have difficulty determining which of your pages is better related to that keyword, preventing either page from ranking as highly as you’d like. Each page of your site should have a dedicated seed keyword and related keywords that it focuses on. Our top tip for tracking and improving your use of keywords is to create a keyword map. This will help you track which keywords you’ve used, which you plan on using next and how well they rank.