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Houston SEO Mythbusters, Episode 2: Keyword Stuffing

Houston SEO Mythbusters, Episode 2: Keyword Stuffing

After some likes and useful feedback on our first installment of Houston SEO Mythbusters, we are back with part 2! Today, we’ll take a look at another commonly asked question.

Recently, I had a few friends that worked in the traditional (print, television, radio) advertising field ask me about how SEO worked. At one point when I explained keywords to them I was asked, “Why don’t you just target all the keywords you possibly can so you don’t miss out on customers?”

Myth: Keyword Stuffing, Does it Work?
The myth we were presented with is commonly known in the internet marketing field as “keyword stuffing”.  This is where webmasters and SEO practitioners try to put as many related keywords as possible into the site. They do this in hopes of ranking for more terms in search engines and capturing more users. What does keyword stuffing look like in practice?

The first image is a screen capture of an SEO consultancy website source code, specifically the keywords Meta tag. The snip above contains only half of the keywords in the Meta tag. Granted, the Meta tags are typically more apparent to users in the search engine results. That said, we took a look at something that is more apparent to web users. More visible is the title tag, seen in the second image through a browser window. Take a second to note how the keywords from images one and two are neither matching nor consistent. This illustration also serves as a cautionary tale to be careful who you pick to partner with in internet marketing!

Verdict? Busted.

1. Why it doesn’t work: Users
It’s pretty easy to say on keyword stuffing, this myth is busted.
Think of it this way, we may not know musical composition, but we can tell when a singer is out of tune or doesn’t know the words. We aren’t expert grammarians, but we can tell when a sentence is out of order. By the same token, web users don’t always know SEO mechanics. However, they can recognize a poorly built or poorly written website.
Furthermore, put aside the preferences of your website visitors. Think about their time and intentions. Many internet users search with specific purposes in mind. For example, if a user is searching specifically for SEO Services, how much will they care about validated assessments, coaching, publishing or company development? The takeaway here is that in trying to be many things to many people, you will miss out potential customers and brand evangelists.
2. Why it doesn’t work:  Search Engines
Take a second and think about keyword stuffing from a search engine perspective. Your income is based off of delivering relevant results that are useful to users. If a website is attempting to target a wide range of keywords, it probably will not satisfy users. Unless you’re Wikipedia, but how many of us can say that right?
Here is another way to look at it: would you take a shotgun to hunt deer? Hopefully you will say, “No! That’s a foolish thing to do.” It does not make sense to bring a scatter gun when you need to bring home something of substance.
3. Why it doesn’t work: Reputation
The final reason of why the keyword stuffing myth is busted: it just looks bad. Chances are if you see keyword stuffing like the example above, the site probably looks like a mid ‘90s Adobe Dreamweaver special. Make sure to take care of your users! It’s always crucial to make your visitors and customers happy. They pay you, not the search engines!
We hope you enjoyed the installment of Houston SEO Mythbusters. Is there something we missed or should cover in more detail? Please let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this post, subscribe for more insights and internet marketing updates or Learn about SEO in Houston done right.

Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.


  1. Internet Marketing Houston 4 years ago

    Zach Great post. I enjoyed the blog & learned a new about the keyword stuffing. Thanks for these fruitful information. I had bookmarked the blog & shared with others. I have also read you previous blog & waiting for your next blog.

    • Zach Doty 4 years ago

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed and found it useful.

      Do you have more questions or ideas on the topic? Please let us know if there’s another topic you would like us to cover. Have a great week!

  2. radames ortiz 4 years ago

    Great informative post. I’d like to mention that with Google’s Penguin algorithm update, Google is cracking down on over-optimized sites.

    It’s important to optimize for humans and not the web crawlers. Keywords stuffing can lead to a penalization and a drop in your rankings.

    • Zach Doty 4 years ago

      Thanks for the kind words. You are absolutely right about over-optimization.

      We have a saying at Forthea, what’s good for the converting user is also good for the search engines. It will be interesting to see what changes lie ahead in 2013.

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