Robert W. Bly
I recently read an article in a marketing magazine that advised repeating keywords on your site as often as possible, and in multiple places, so search engine “spiders” can find them.
But my friend and fellow copywriter Nick Usborne says that this advice is not only wrong, but actually harmful.
“This is the worst possible advice you can give to anyone about optimizing their site for the search engines,” says Nick.
“It's an element of what is referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’ and is either ignored by the search engine algorithms or, in bad cases, your page and site will be penalized. Worse still, it results in pages that read very strangely to human visitors.
“Using keywords too often on a page and in the meta-tags is worse than not using them at all. The frequency or otherwise of keywords on a page has nothing to do with whether a spider will find the page. And if a spider finds the page, it doesn't need a keyword repeated frequently in order to find it.”
I am not an SEO expert, I asked a number of consultants in this area – and
others more knowledgeable than I -- to comment on the topic of keyword usage on Web
stuffing keywords on a Web page is taking the focus off where it needs to be to
be successful in any business,” says Sean Woodruff. “That focus should be
trained squarely on the customer. Stuffing keywords is a gimmick that is
focused on tricking the search engines.”
engines are important,” says Susan Getgood. “But it is far more important to
have a good Web site that sells effectively. We should focus on writing good
copy that effectively communicates the offer.
that keywords appear an appropriate amount in good selling copy vs. some artificial
stuffing exercise which doesn’t fool the search engines and likely damages your
overall communications effort.
people do land on your Web site from other sources – advertising, direct mail,
and so on -- not just from search engines. It is silly to try to optimize for
one source, if in doing so, you end up with a sub-optimal Web site for all the
furrowed my brow at suggestions of altering copy to optimize search engine
Bruce DeBoer. “It
wasn’t so much that I knew my way was better, but rather that I couldn’t
imagine altering otherwise great copy to satisfy a search engine.”
Apryl Parcher advises, “When writing Web sites, it’s more important to put keywords
in meta tags and descriptions that are only used by spiders, and not seen by
the average person reading your page, and also to give your pages titles in
html that truly reflect the page’s contents.
is true that words are picked up on your home page for the search engine
description -- unless the text block is made into an image -- it’s usually the
first 20 words or so. So make sure that text is what you want people to see
when they pick you up on Google. However, you can go all out in putting
appropriate search keywords in your description tags without stuffing your
actual copy with them.”
stuff a Web page with keywords; it’s awful advice,” says Paul Woodhouse. “You
make sure they’re in your title and your meta data. Place them carefully in the
beginning, middle, and end of your spiel -- and in the h1, h2 tags if
than that and you risk being penalized by Google --
although you can find many a site getting away with it. Also, it simply reads
awfully. But, don’t take my word for it. Go to www.seochat.com
for expert advice.”
want to attract search engine spiders and repel your human visitors, then by
all means, stuff away,” says Andrea Harris. “Good
Web writing is a balance between satisfying the spiders and the humans. But
it’s the humans who buy your products and services.”
“It’s not about ’stuffing’ copy with keywords,” says Richard
Leader. “It’s about making sure the keywords are in there.
years back, I ran an online training company. Our course outlines were quite
clearly course outlines to a human reader -- but not to a spider. We realized
we didn’t once use the phrase ‘HTML training course,’ for example.
added it in a few times -- and yeah, it looked a bit clunky. But with just a
couple of mentions (for example, ‘In this HTML training course, you will learn…’),
we increased our search engine traffic -- and our conversions. So, my advice is
not to stuff but to ‘strategically place.’”
keywords within your site is certainly an important part of getting search
engines to notice you,” says Joel Heffner. “However,
my current favorite way to appeal to search engines is to ping entries that I
make to my blogs.
engines appear to love to run to see what’s been added to a blog. If you create
a link to a specific page, the search engine will take note of that page as
About the author:
W. Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 60 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct
Marketing (Alpha). His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his Web site
address is www.bly.com.