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Tips to avoid keyword stuffing when content writing for search engine optimisation

You've written a page on the new range of shoes you are selling on your e-commerce website. You have included relevant keywords such as 'shoes for sale' and 'shoes on sale' plus 'where to buy shoes near me' and 'best summer shoes in South Africa' at least six times each in the hope of good search rankings. But your page is a minefield of keywords that no website user would be able to read with ease. You are guilty of 'keyword stuffing'.
So, what is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the term given when a writer ‘stuffs’ or includes too many of the same keywords into the web copy with the hope of improved rankings on Google. It is old-style SEO, but some brands still do it because they think it will improve their visibility.

What will happen if I use keyword stuffing as a tactic?

The fact of the matter is, Google sees keywords stuffing as black hat SEO. You can actually get penalised for it and not rank as well (or at all) as if you had practiced more restraint.

So, then what is the happy medium? How can you include good keywords, make sure you keep your web content SEO optimised with a great user experience?

Here are four practical SEO best practices when writing for your website:
  1. You must do your keyword research

    Before you even start on your content optimisation journey, conduct keyword research. Here, you can research search terms related to your website's offering. Make sure you have pinpointed those target keywords that are relevant and have some healthy search volume behind them.

  2. Write naturally

    I often tell copywriters to write naturally, for people, not search engines. Present a piece of content that makes sense and is good to read. Then go back to the keyword brief (at Algorithm, we supply a content brief containing target keywords, semantic keywords, suggested H1's and H2’s and metadata) and pepper a couple of the target and semantic keywords where relevant.

    *Tip: Always try including one or two featured snippet questions and answers, this could get you the prized ‘position zero’ spot – called the answer box, example below:

  3. Check your keyword density

    Overkill is unnecessary! Check your keyword density. That is, the number of keywords/total amount of copy on page. Try to stick to a 2% keywords density including semantic keywords. Some experts say 1.5% and others say up to 3%. But without harping on about percentages, when proofing content for an 800-1,500 worded web page, I usually check that each target keyword appears no more than two to three times, and semantic keywords one to two times.

  4. Write to convert

    Your website has been built for a reason – as a generator of leads and/or revenue. Communicate your product or service in detail and focus on user experience. Write well, include relevant keywords, sell the offering, get the brand tone right. Make sure the content includes SEO optimised keywords to drive impressions, rankings and traffic but when they are on the site, entices users to want to enquire, click to contact, call the company, buy the shoes...
Keyword-driven content is a critical part of your SEO Strategy and is a main driver of improved visibility on Google. Chat to us if you need help with your SEO content strategy.

About the author

Sarah has 15 years client service experience in a full-service agency environment. She believes that client service is not merely email-pushing and brief-taking, but partnering with clients to build great relationships based on smart, strategic thinking and action - all aimed at client business growth.