Even if you don’t know much about SEO, you’ve probably come across the idea of “keywords”. These generally aren’t single words but phrases. They’re what people are likely to type into search engines when looking for content on the subject you’re writing about.
While it’s a good idea to keep keywords in mind – after all, you want your content to match with what people are interested in reading about – you can definitely go too far.
Here are some dodgy SEO keyword practices you need to avoid:
#1: Keyword Stuffing
Repeating the same keyword again and again is a bad idea. Let’s say I wanted to write a blog post optimised for the search term “blogging tips”. This is what not to do:
… I’m sure you get the idea!
You don’t need to worry about “keyword density” these days. Google will NOT prioritise your page just because you mentioned a particular term in virtually every sentence. In fact, this is seen as over-optimising, and may get you penalised.
#2: Keywords Aimed Only at Search Engines
As you probably noticed from the above example, content can sound really forced and unnatural when you stuff it full of keywords. Some SEO practitioners tried to get round this in the past with some methods that made this text more visible to search engines than to real readers.
For instance, they might create invisible text (e.g. white on a white background) that search engines can see but readers can’t. A similar method is to put lots of keywords in a very small font in the footer of your site — something readers are unlikely to glance at, let alone read.
Don’t do this. Trying to “trick” search engines won’t help your site, and again, it may harm your position in Google’s rankings.
#3: Over-Optimised Anchor Text
Let’s say you write a guest post for a well-known blog in your niche. A few years ago, the conventional advice was to link back to your own blog using a keyword phrase, like:
Get blogging tips from Ali here.
Today, though, this isn’t a good idea. Google can sniff out these over-optimised links, and prefers you to use a more natural phrase (like the name of your site, or the title of the post you’re linking to).
When you’re crafting a guest post bio — or anything else which will link back to your site — think about the reader, rather than search engines.
So should you ignore keywords altogether? Some bloggers do, though I think this is a bit short-sighted. It’s certainly helpful to use keywords in your title, and perhaps a couple of times during your post. Google’s smarter than ever at understanding “synonyms” though (words that mean the same thing, like “big” and “large”) so having the exact same keyword phrase over and over again just isn’t necessarily.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve overdone it, here’s a good rule of thumb: if a sentence or phrase sounds awkward and unnatural when you re-read your post, change it.
Ultimately, if you focus on writing the very best content you can, rather than trying to game the system, you’ll find you get much better results.
What do you think about keywords and the best ways to use them? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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