In terms of optimizing a website to gain favor with search engines, a process known as search engine optimization (SEO), targeting the appropriate keywords in site content can be an excellent way to boost a site’s pagerank. It is possible, however, to reach a point of overkill in terms of keyword saturation.
The search engines have been on to keyword stuffing since the 1990s. They know how to recognize it and they will generally suppress websites found to be utilizing the black-hat tactic. For those that don’t know, keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords to the point where they detract from the message or substance of a page. This can be anything from the obvious overuse of keywords in the paragraphs of site content to the camouflaging of keyword lists at the bottoms of web pages so the words appear as part of a page’s background, hidden from the reader’s view.
Even if they don’t intentionally stuff keywords on web pages, the inadvertent overuse of keywords can still cause sites to become suppressed.
While the best way to ensure that keywords aren’t overused is to write for people first and search engines second, a good rule of thumb is to keep the saturation of keywords low. SEO consultants will typically advise a keyword saturation of around 3 to 7%, but the ultimate point is to try to make the occurrence of keywords as natural as possible. When written for the web, content should be conversational, using patterns and words as they would appear in conversation. If a person wouldn’t use the same word over and over again in conversation, then there is no reason to use the same word over and over again in web content.
The Human Response
Even if unsavory tactics are successful at increasing a page’s rank on the web, the results are almost never permanent. Just because a site is able to reach the top of search engines, it doesn’t mean that it will stay there. Other factors used to rank websites besides keyword saturation are the number of visitors to the site, the number of repeat visitors, and the amount of time spent on site pages.
When search engine users click on a high ranked site only to find that it is jammed with less than useful content and content that is difficult to read, they will probably leave the site in a hurry and try to remember to never return to it. When enough people realize that the high ranking website is useless and spammy, the site will eventually fall from high search engine ranks to a more appropriate rank somewhere on those search result pages that nobody ever checks; which is usually any page after page three.
Even though keyword targeted content is crucial to the success of a site on the web, coming up with content to carry those keywords on a regular basis can be difficult. Instead of taking up their own time, or the time of an employee, to create strong, keyword targeted content, businesses and professionals are encouraged to outsource the job of SEO content creation to a team of dedicated SEO professionals.