Toeing the Line… Keyword Stuffing, SEO and Customer Experience

When you start any new website, or want to promote an existing one, one of the most important things to consider is how you rank in the search engines. Search engine optimization, or SEO for short is the process by which designers, developers and webmasters make a website more appealing to a search engine, and make it appear higher for certain relevant search terms. In this post I’ll talk about some of the dos and don’ts in SEO


The first thing to consider in any SEO project is what your product or service is that you are trying to promote and what sort of audience you are going for. Having a clear idea of who and what you are promoting will make figuring out keywords easier, and stop diluting your SEO efforts.

When selecting keywords that you are going to use for your SEO effort, don’t use single words, instead focus on phrases that represent your location and service, for example if you are a plumber that services nowhere, Ontario then you might use the keyword “Plumbing services in nowhere“. This makes your listing show much higher in results where the customer is physically located in your area or manually uses a location keyword

These keywords should then be located carefully through your website, by replacing links that say things like “click here“ with “plumbing services“ for example, you are adding keywords to heavily weighted places on your website. you should also include keywords in your content blocks.

Search engines can’t read images, and neither can blind people. You should limit your usage of images to relevant ones in content, and used in logos. These images should also have descriptive names (instead of 23q4657.jpg they should say ABS_pipe_plumbing.jpg) and include relevant ALT text. You may also consider using a caption by the image that not only add information to obscure imagery but allow keyword placement.

One of the biggest missed opportunities most people have is getting linkbacks from reputable websites. Try asking around for related services that might compliment your own for example if you know a popular hardware store in the area, as a plumber you may ask for a link on their website, in exchange for a link to theirs on your website. You can also include your link on websites such as Facebook, stumbleupon, and twitter. Another option for linkbacks is to look for groups and speciality services. A word of caution though, be sure to watch the quality of the websites that you trade links with as poor quality websites may reduce your web reputation.

Another huge part of SEO is content freshness and quality. Not only does fresh content that is relevant mean return visitors. But it also makes your site more relevant in the eyes of search engines. One of the most common ways to include fresh content on your website is blogging. By blogging a few times a week, you are giving potential guests of your site something new to read, giving search engines new and fresh content to index, and letting people know that your website is alive and active. Blogging also gives something for you to post on twitter or send to people on a newsletter, making your content appear more often on the web. Make sure you don’t split your traffic between multiple domains or sub domains. These are the two biggest mistakes of any website. if your website is make sure that has a 301 redirect to if it’s then do the should have the redirect. The same goes with multiple domains. If you own then make sure it’s also redirecting to your primary website. This serves to purposes, it insures your SEO efforts and consolidated on one address, and it also insures that you don’t get penalized for having duplicate content.

Spelling and content accuracy is one of the most overlooked issues in SEO. Make sure that your keywords, and content in general are accurate and spelled correctly. If you are a plumber, make sure that your keywords don’t include typographical errors such as “plumer“ this reduces the quality of your keywords and search engines, and your audience make look poorly on the blunder. Also make sure to include logical headings in your content through the use of H1s-H6s these tags aren’t intended to be used for how they look, but are for logically structuring your page. The W3C also states that you may only have 1 H1 per page.

SEO Don’ts

While there are many things you can do to improve your search engine ranking, there are also many things you can do to hurt it, and hurt your customer experience.

Don’t keyword stuff, this is the act of blatantly using keywords excessively on the site, or with the sole intent to spam search engines. Many modern search engines are designed to detect excessive keyword usage, and often downrank a site for this behaviour. The other serious side effect of using keyword stuffing is the customer experience, how would you feel if you went to a website with the following text

Bob’s Nowhere and area plumbing solutions, ABS pipe, leaky sinks, running toilets, porcelain fixtures….“

Not only does this sentence drip of keyword stuffing making search engines down rank the page, but the user can clearly see it was not designed for human consumption turning many customers away also. So what can you do to make this sentence better?

Bob’s Nowhere plumbing solutions provides services for any plumbing need or disaster. We provide quick, affordable, and courteous service for leaky sinks, running toilets, and so much more

although the keyword density is slightly lower, this sentence would work alright on a home page or about page and is less likely to be scoffed at by customer and search engine alike.

Don’t misrepresent your content. This includes not mislabeling images, and not misrepresenting your brand. For example if you have a picture of a low flow toilet on your homepage, don’t use the alt text No where plumbing and fixtures or worse tiles, and sinks these make the image content completely unreadable to blind users, and search engines have grown intelligent enough to see past these tactics. The same goes with misrepresenting your content. Don’t put Barrie tiling on your plumbing website, unless you tile also. It’s also a bad idea to dilute your keywords with irrelevant or too many subjects. Much like a paragraph if you are focusing on leaky toilets on a page don’t include tiling content.

Don’t use link farms. Many websites have cropped up allowing you to join networks of people to link to and they will include linkbacks. The problem with this kind of strategy is many of the pages you may be linking to aren’t relevant for your customers, aren’t high quality links, or may have a detrimental affect on your website. The other problem with link farming, is that search engines have been adapted to detect these, and may penalize your site for using them also.

SEO is really about knowing your audience, knowing your product and having a bit of patience. SEO results take time as search engines update, and discover your new content and links. It’s also an ongoing process keeping content fresh, removing stale links, and making sure the websites you have links to aren’t blacklisted or downvoted. But with a little time and effort you can put your website on the front page of Google.

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