Thanksgiving Turkey and Keyword Stuffing

by Mark Boyd on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lester Hayes Oakland RaidersThe evolution of SEO in the effectiveness of your web development and web design efforts changes weekly if not daily. For every legitimate method of being found online, there are a zillion people to abuse it to the point where Google reduces its value in their algorithms.

Incidentally, what makes “zillion” such a great number is that it’s an arbitrary number to which anyone can assign any value. Gotta love it:)

Anyway, one of the big culprits we deal with today is “key word stuffing.”  That’s basically cramming (stuffing) as many key words into the copy on your pages as possible and cramming as many key words into links, etc. that you possibly can. This is the kind of behavior that makes your site look and read spammy, yet why do so many people still use these tactics?

Simple: Desperation and/or impatience. The key to using key words in your SEO is moderation, not stuffing. There should be no more than a 3% saturation of any key word phrase on any page of your website. Links to your site are also now more effective if they contain your name or your brand name rather than key words in the links. This is due to the abuse of key word “link wheels,” which are basically a series of sites set up which link to each other and then link back to one central site.

Be consistent with your blogging efforts, content management and site updates and exercise reasonable moderation in using keywords in your SEO efforts. It’s excess that leads to the constant changes, such as the Panda Google updates, which are specifically designed to eliminate the effectiveness of spammy behavior in both on and offsite SEO. If you go overboard with any method, you are basically contributing to that method being rendered ineffective in the long run.

Lester Hayes Oakland RaidersThe analogy I like to draw is the cornerback Lester Hayes of the Oakland Raiders in the 70′s and early 80′s. Back then, players used a sticky resin called “Stick ‘Um” on their hands to help with their grip on the ball. Used in reasonable moderation, this substance was legal. Hayes, however, pushed it to the limit in the 1980 NFL season. He smeared it on his hands, jersey, pants, shoes, helmet…anywhere the ball would potentially touch (see the picture to the left). In 1980 he was one interception short of the all-time season record with 13, while an additional 4 were called back because of penalties. Teammates even joked that the reason he got all those interceptions was StickUm …because if the ball even touched his hand he’d hang on.

By the 1981 season, Stick Um was outlawed (and still is) in what is known as the Lester Hayes Rule. Can you imagine what the league would look like if this was still allowed? Ridiculous.

That is what continues to happen with the evolution of online marketing and search engines. People take legitimate, legal methods and go overboard to the point where search engines have to step in and do their job: Create and maintain a level playing field for all.

Search engines continue to evolve and those changes occur almost daily. For example, those meta tags that were once pretty valuable on your site are now not indexed the way they once were. Why? Because the search engines became wise to the fact that people are key-word-stuffing their metatags…so they have devalued those tags in indexing. Is this permanent? Probably not. These things go in cycles and in time, metatags will cycle around to more valuable indexing again.

In the meantime, like our parents told us (but we didn’t wanna listen)…practice moderation. At least with your SEO:)

Mark Boyd AKA: Mark Boyd

+Mark is our resident vocabularian and SEO guy. Hit him up with a comment here and he'll help with your quizzical reckonings. If you mention his favorite band Clutch, he usually responds faster.