While it’s important to get your ‘focus’ keywords on your web pages and in your content, there is such a thing as overdoing it. The question is, how can you include your keywords without compromising the quality of your writing or coming off as ‘spammy’ or unnatural?
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is the practice of including as many of your focus keywords on a web page as possible. This is typically done because people believe that Google needs lots and lots of keywords on a page in order to rank it accordingly.
This is no longer the case.
Today, Google wants websites to feature their focus keywords in the right context and as organically as possible.
When you go overboard, it ruins the quality of the content and Google will penalise websites as a result.
What is natural writing?
Natural writing quite simply refers to ‘conversational’ writing. In other words, if someone is to visit your website and read the content out loud, it should read like normal human speech. This is what Google wants to see on websites and it also creates a better on-page experience for your website visitors.
You are a human-run business after all, right?
This approach is far more comfortable for your readers, it’s more engaging, and it will significantly increase your chances of converting those ‘clicks into customers’.
If, on the other hand, your website reads like Terms & Conditions with awkwardly placed keywords that don’t quite fit, it’s going to reflect poorly on your brand.
The same applies with your email marketing; if your emails read almost robotic with forced keyword placement, how likely do you suppose they will be to inspire action?
Write to your readers as though you are speaking to them directly.
How can you write naturally whilst including your focus keywords?
So, how can you get an optimal number of focus keywords on a page without upsetting Google?
- Don’t stress about getting an exact match every time: Google is getting very good at recognising keywords and search phrases, even when they aren’t an exact match. In other words, if you force a keyword into a sentence when an ‘exact match’ doesn’t quite work, it ruins the integrity of the content. So, if a few extra ‘filler’ words are required to keep the tone natural, don’t be afraid to include them!
- As an example, when the focus keyword is something like “SEO services Singapore”, writing an exact match doesn’t quite fit into everyday speech. However, “SEO services in Singapore” or “SEO services from a Singapore-based agency” both do. That said, as you can see in this example, I’ve pulled it off like a pro!
- Include the keywords when they are called for (naturally): another mistake that often leads to keywords stuffing and unnatural sounding content is including keywords when they aren’t called for. They need to be contextually relevant. The most important places to include your focus keywords are:
- Title Tag.
- The body of your text (the first paragraph, ideally).
- Anchor text.
- Following that (if possible / naturally occurring) you should include them in:
- Meta description.
- Page URL.
- Image name.
- Image alt text.
- Find the right balance: it’s all about timing and balance. If you’ve ended a sentence with your focus keyword and then begin the very next sentence with the exact same word you are creating an imbalance. Space them out on the page and expand your content around them. As a rule of thumb, aim for 1 or 2 keywords per 100 words (about 1-2% density). Again, it’s a “rule of thumb” so don’t feel like you have to follow it religiously otherwise you’ll start including keywords for the sake of it!
Read your content out loud
When proofreading your content, read it out loud. Do your focus keywords sound weird? Have they clearly been forced in?
When you read out loud you can easily spot any forced errors and amend your content accordingly. Remember: natural, conversational, contextual, balanced.
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