One of the key indicators of bad or “black hat” search engine optimization (SEO) writing consists of stuffing an article with as many keywords as possible in order to raise the likelihood that the page will appear near or at the top of a search engine’s rankings. Less than reputable writing companies depended on this in order to boast to their client’s and potential customers the benefits of using their SEO writing services to improve search results and increase web traffic.

Content Farms

Tawny won’t go to the farm.

Search engine companies such as Google and Bing caught on to this trick and changed the rules for rankings based on SEO. Google completed a major change to its search engine algorithm, the mathematical formulation that determines how popular a website is. The change, known as Panda, was released in February 2011 and had an immediate impact on search engine results of about 12% of web search traffic. The change was aimed at what was known at the time as “content farms,” which were places on the web with low quality information driving traffic from higher quality sites that a user may have desired to visit. This was followed by the April 24, 2102 release of Penguin, an algorithm designed to target spam, with a focus on keyword stuffing.

Although search engines continually update their algorithms, it is still possible for some content farms to exist and drive traffic away from legitimate websites to less than reputable or illegitimate ones. While the search community continues to maintain its vigilance, as a Writer it is important to understand content is viewed on the web.

What is Keyword Stuffing?  
Keyword stuffing is a term that applies to the practice of placing a certain amount of relevant words, known as keywords, into an article. The practice, which saw its heyday several years ago, has been slowed somewhat through search result ranking changes made by the search engine companies.

An example of keyword stuffing is this paragraph based with the keyword being “electricians”:

An electrician provides a useful and necessary service in society. If you have problems with the electricity in your home and need the assistance of a trained professional, you need to contact a local electrician to help you fix that problem. As a trained and experienced tradesperson, an electrician can analyze and apply the right solution to your electrical problem. From bad outlets to an improperly working light socket and everything in between, an electrician can solve these and many more of your household electrical problems.

The use of the word electrician appears 5% of the time in the paragraph; if you include the words electrical and electricity, the density of the keyword is 8% in the article.

How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing  
The problem with keyword stuffing is that it can cause your article to be viewed as spam, as oppose to a valuable piece of informative content for your client. Articles stuffed with keywords place a greater focus on the number of times the word appears, both in the front and the end of the article and can come off sounding unnatural and the use of the keyword forced.

Keep your articles pure by avoiding the use of irrelevant keywords. Seek to write in a natural tone, using any desired keywords in a limited way that adds value to the content. Only use keywords as specified by the User. This will make their experience worthwhile and ensure they are not violating any regulations set forth by search engines. Following this advice will result in better written content and better results.

A Focus on Effective Writing  
Much of this discussion focused on the issue of keyword stuffing and how search engines have changed the way content is viewed in order to eliminate past devices that inflate the rankings of websites to the detriment of legitimate or more deserving ones, based on keyword search parameters. As a writer you should focus on writing an article using a unique or interesting spin that engages the reader and motivates them to learn more. This type of writing, above devices like keyword stuffing, will increase the likelihood that the article will be linked as an editorial source by related websites and receive the higher search rankings it deserves.