October 25, 2023

Is There a Downside Of Having Too Many Keywords?

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. 

Is Using Too Many Keywords a Bad Thing?

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? 

Keyword Stuffing

Using too many keywords in SEO is also known as keyword stuffing. According to Google’s guidelines, the definition of keyword stuffing is, in simple terms, 

‘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’

How Things Have Changed

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. 

Cannibalisation 

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. 

Why Is Keyword Cannibalisation Bad? 

Keyword cannibalisation is bad for SEO because it:

How To Fix Keyword Cannibalisation?

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:

How To Avoid Using Too Many Keywords? 

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: 

Learn More About Overusing Keywords With Wildcat Digital 

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 Knowledge Base? Our experts are here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions on The Overuse Of Keywords

How Many Keywords Should I Use For SEO Success?

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. 

What Counts As Too Many Keywords? 

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.

Can I Use The Same Keyword On Different Pages?

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. 

Post by

Rachel Davies

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

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