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Keyword Stuffing as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Keyword stuffing is a widely used technique because it produces results, at least for a while.But how does Google treat it now?

If some keywords are good, the more the better, right?

This is the simple logic behind keyword stuffing as a ranking factor.

In the early days of web search, before SEO came along, Google used a basic set of signals to rank web content.

Keywords are one of these signals.The more keywords you use, the better your page will rank, especially in the early days of search engines.

Keyword stuffing is a widely used technique because it produces results, at least for a while.

But how does Google treat it now?

Here's a history of claims around keyword stuffing, followed by today's evidence.

Disclaimer: Keyword stuffing is a ranking factor

exact match keywordsused to be a signal with a large component.If the keywords appear on the page exactly in the order the user typed it, the page will have a good chance of ranking.

When people discovered that they could rank their site for more queries by repeating different variations of the keyword on the page, this led to a technique called keyword stuffing.

You can escape a lot of keyword stuffing.This includes overuse of keywords in page copy, and entire paragraphs separated only by commas.

A more egregious form of keyword stuffing involves paragraphs that hide keywords by making the text the same color as the page background.Google can see hidden keywords when crawling the web, but users won't notice anything inappropriate.

Keyword stuffing is not limited to on-page articles.Page titles and meta descriptions are filled with keywords in an attempt to manipulate their search rankings.

When people talk about the early stages of SEO being like the Wild West, this is what they are referring to.Not only are sites not penalized for keyword stuffing, they are more likely to benefit from it.

Then Google Update started rolling out…

The impact of keyword stuffing on search rankings changed in 2003, when Google rolled out the Florida Update, considered Google's first major algorithm update.

Evidence suggests that the Florida update primarily targeted spammy links, but sites engaged in other spammy techniques were also affected.

Florida has reduced the ranking impact of keyword stuffing somewhat, but Google's algorithm still hasn't paid off completely.

In 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update, targeting low-quality sites and thin content with little added value.

This always results in keyword-stuffed pages being demoted in search results, as these tend to add less value to the web than pages that aren't written into game search engines.

After pandas algorithm,Google strictly advises against doing any keyword stuffing.

Finally, when it comes to the evolution of keywords in SEO, we cannot fail to mention Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013.

Hummingbird brings conversational search to Google, meaning users can enter a query using natural language and Google's algorithms will understand what they're looking for.

Following this update, the content writing approach has changed, especially as it relates to the unnatural use of keywords.It’s fair to say that Hummingbird sparked a shift from writing content for search engines to writing content for people..

Keyword stuffing is purely for manipulating rankings and doesn’t provide searchers with anything of value.It's an outdated technology because Google's search algorithms are better at identifying high-quality content.

Evidence of keyword stuffing as a ranking factor

There is evidence everywhere in Google’s search results that keyword stuffing is not a ranking factor.

Today’s SERPs feature naturally-reading page titles, meta descriptions that include paragraphs of actual copy, and articles that don’t needlessly use exact-match phrases.

But this is anecdotal evidence.Let's look directly at the hard evidence at the source.

Google's Webmaster Guidelines (which sites must adhere to to remain indexed in search) confirm keyword stuffing in a section called "Irrelevant Keywords."

It says:

"'Keyword stuffing' is the loading of web pages with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results.These keywords usually appear in lists or groups, or out of context (not natural prose).Filling pages with keywords or numbers can lead to a negative user experience and can hurt your site's rankings.Focus on creating useful, informative content, using keywords appropriately in context.

If you have any questions about whether Google is downgrading pages with a lot of unnecessary keywords, please provide official confirmation in the Webmaster Guidelines.

Conclusion: Keyword Stuffing as a Ranking Factor

Keyword stuffing is confirmedNegativeranking factor

Extended reading:

Are Keyword Stemming a Google Ranking Factor?

Keyword Prominence as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Is Keyword Density a Google Ranking Factor?

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