Should You Stuff Your Web Pages With Keywords?

April 11th, 2005 by Bob Bly

In a recent issue of my e-zine, I quoted an article from Catalog Success that advised repeating keywords on your site as often as possible, and in multiple places, so search engine ?spiders? can find them.

Pretty standard advice. But as soon as he read my issue, copywriter Nick Usborne e-mailed me to let me know what he thought of the suggestion.

?This is the worst possible advice you can give to anyone about optimizing their site for the search engines,? says Nick.

?It’s an element of what is referred to as ?keyword stuffing? and is either ignored by the search engine algorithms or, in bad cases, your page and site will be penalized. Worse still, it results in pages that read very strangely to human visitors.?

What about you? Do you try to get your keywords into your Web copy frequently, as Catalog Success advises? Or, like Nick, do you use keywords sparingly?

And more important, have you measured results to see which approach works best?

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 11th, 2005 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

61 responses about “Should You Stuff Your Web Pages With Keywords?”

  1. Sean Woodruff said:

    I think stuffing keywords on a web page is taking the focus off where it needs to be to be successful in any business. That focus should be trained squarely on the customer. Stuffing keywords is a gimmick that is focused on tricking the search engines. In the long run it simply can’t work. It isn’t aimed at the proper target.

    All business eventually has to evolve to one, laser-like point…Creating Customers.

  2. Susan Getgood said:

    Yes, search engines are important. BUT it is far more important to have a good website that SELLS EFFECTIVELY. We should focus on writing good copy that effectively communicates the offer. I expect that keywords appear an appropriate amount in good selling copy :-) Versus some articifial stuffing exercise which a) doesn’t fool the search engines and b) likely damages your overall comms effort.

    Remember: people do land on your website from other sources — WOM, advertising, direct mail. Etc. Not just from search engines. It is silly to *try* to optimize for one source, if in doing so, you end up wth a sub-optimal website for *all* the others.

  3. Bruce DeBoer said:

    I often furrowed my brow at suggestions of altering copy to optimize search engine results. It wasn’t so much that I new my way was better but rather that I couldn’t imagine altering otherwise great copy to satisfy a search engine. It was more an indignant furrow.

    I simply ignored the suggestion. I guess deep down inside I told myself what Susan wrote. Thanks for asking though Bob – now I won’t furrow my brow any longer.

  4. Apryl Parcher said:

    When writing websites, it’s more important to put keywords in meta tags and descriptions that are only used by spiders, and not seen by the average person reading your page. At least that’s my understanding…and also giving your pages titles in html that truly reflect the page’s contents and thus the searchability helps. While it is true that words are picked up on your home page for the search engine description (unless the text block is made into an image), it’s usually the first 20 or so, so make sure that text is what you want people to see when they pick you up on Google, however you can go all out in putting appropriate search keywords in your description tags without stuffing your actual copy with them.

  5. Paul Woodhouse said:

    Never stuff a webpage with keywords. It’s awful advice. You make sure they’re in your title, your meta data and then place them carefully in the beginning, middle and end of your spiel. And in the h1, h2 tags if necessary.

    Anymore than that and a) you risk being penalised by Google – although you can find many a site getting away with it. b) It simply reads awfully.

    But, don’t take my word for it. Go to http://www.seochat.com for expert advice.

  6. Andrea Harris said:

    If you want to attract search engine spiders and repel your human visitors then by all means, stuff away! Good web writing is a balance between satisfying the spiders and the humans. But it’s the HUMANS who buy your products and services.

  7. Richard Leader said:

    It’s not about ‘stuffing’ copy with keywords – it’s about making sure the keywords are in there.
    Some years back, I ran an online training company. Our course outlines were quite clearly course outlines to a human reader – but not to a spider. We realised we didn’t once use the phrase ‘HTML training course’ for example. So we added it in a few times – and yeah, it looked a bit clunky. But just a couple of mentions (for example, “In this HTML training course, you will learn…”) we increased our search engine traffic and we increased our conversions.

    So, my advice is not to stuff but to ‘strategically place’!

  8. karim said:

    I think humbly that the key word for sucess is to stuff the page not with the same keyword but with a set of words semantically very near each one to the other. It’s about creating a good content not only for the human reader but also for the automated one: the search engine. You can fool the search engine by playing its own game.

  9. linda said:

    And yet many times I have seen pages that repeat keywords, not just saying them alone but in combinations — e.g., baby items, baby stroller, baby shower, baby gifts, baby crib, baby clothes — come up first, and usually they are affiliate-type link pages.

  10. Joel Heffner said:

    Placing keywords within your site is certainly an important part of getting search engines to notice you. However, my current favorite way to appeal to search engines is to ping entries that I make to my blogs. Search engines appear to love to run to see what’s been added to a blog. If you create a link to a specific page, the search engine will take note of that pages as well.

    Joel

  11. Jason Kerr said:

    Stuffing on the web is no different than stuffing at thanksgiving. At first, it’s sooooo good, and then you’re stuffed. Just don’t overdo it.
    In reality, if your content and headings are well focused, then you’re going to have most of the keywords that you need anyway. Beyond that you will experience diminishing marginal gravy on your stuffing.
    (Tagged comment to editor here, view code)

    Brandlessness by Jason Kerr

  12. Mark Worthen said:

    Stuff, no; sprinkle, yes. I use Ken Evoy’s web site builder, which shows you how to sprinkle your keywords, so you can focus on persuasive writing. The proof is in the pudding: By using his program, my site is #1 in Yahoo and MSN and #2 in Google for my primary keyword phrase.

  13. Don Marti said:

    There is a lot of old search engine optimization tips floating around. Unfortunately, many of them only work for older search engines, not Google. 26 Steps to 15k a Day is a good intro to more current techniques — and the answer is to use your keywords some, but not too much. Incoming links are much more important.

  14. Donald Baker said:

    The latest research I’ve seen sez that keyword phrases (KWPs) in the title coding, main headline, and first paragraph are most important, as are variations of that main KWP. Just a few repetitions on a page are sufficient.

  15. Mark Nenadic said:

    Bob

    When you try to market to everyone you end up marketing to no one. I Know you know this :) Same with the Engines..

    Mark..

  16. Lee Odden said:

    I think sometimes people get the wrong impression of what it means to include keywords in web documents. I’ve worked in SEO for years and I spend a lot more time making web sites search engine friendly than worrying about things like keyword density.

    That said, I have had an amazing number of clients wish to rank for certain phrases, yet they did not want to use those phrases on the web site.

    Keywords in title tags, paragraph titles and link text are basic practices that should not interfere with a good copywriter’s work at creating compelling copy. Just remember to mix it up.

    Don’t forget that keywords on your web pages are not the only answer for better rankings. Fresh content and links from other web sites using variations of your desired keywords is also very important.

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