In a perfect world, our well-written content always positions top-10.
In reality, well, weird things happen.
Sometimes, a keyphrase-stuffed page makes it to the top of Google’s search results. And stays there.
How can that be?
Did someone pay Google for that listing? (No.)
Is repeating the keyphrase over and over a viable SEO writing tactic again? (Thankfully, no.)
Or, is there something else going on? (Yup.)
Here’s your answer…
We all know that keyword stuffing is bad, m’kay?
Google advises against keyphrase stuffing. It’s old-school, spammy SEO.
Plus, from a conversion aspect, your readers don’t enjoy it, either. People don’t like to read keyphrase-stuffed pages. People don’t like to buy from sites that keyword-stuff their copy.
It’s not a good tactic.
Yet, last week on Twitter, Google’s John Mueller said that keyword stuffing, “shouldn’t result in removal from the index.”
In fact, some keyword-stuffed pages may still position because there is “enough value to be found elsewhere.”
Here’s the Search Engine Roundtable post sharing the news.
So, what does this really mean?
This doesn’t mean that Google is giving keyword stuffing a pass. It’s still bad, and Google still calls it out as spammy.
What it does mean is Google is smart enough to ignore repeated keywords and look at other factors. Maybe the keyword-stuffed page has a lot of good information, despite the bad SEO. Or, the page has some quality links pointing to it.
Is this a mixed message? You bet. When Google says, “thou shall not keyword stuff,” we expect there to be consequences if a site does stuff.
Maybe not total removal from the index….but spammy pages shouldn’t position.
So yes. This is frustrating.
On the flip side, this is Google’s circus and Google’s monkeys. We can’t control what Google does. We can only control what we do…so…
Here’s what I would recommend…
I wouldn’t try stuffing just to “see what happens.” Best-case scenario, it DOES work…and new visitors read your spammy copy and immediately surf away. Remember, Google doesn’t buy from you — your readers do. Poorly-written copy reflects poorly on your brand.
Now, what if you have a spammy legacy page that’s still positioning?
That’s a different story.
If we extrapolate what John Mueller said, and Google can “strip away” excess keyphrase use when evaluating page, that means the page should stand on its own.
Which means that it should be fine to rewrite it, dial back the keyphrase usage, and see what happens.
Notice the word “should” in there. I even italicized it twice. There’s a chance your page position drops after fixing the spam, despite what Google says.
Annoying, isn’t it?
Is it worth it? I would argue yes. At the same time, I’d check the page analytics to see if people are taking action on the spammy versus non-spammy version.
Let the data be your guide. You may find fewer people visit the rewritten page, but they are taking action. Or staying on your page/site longer. Or even making a purchase from you.
After all, there’s no reason to celebrate a top-10 position if you find people are immediately leaving the page when they land on it.
What do you think?
Have you encountered a keyphrase-stuffed page, and wondered, “why is Google letting this fly?” Have you had to patiently explain to your boss why you shouldn’t repeat [b2b blue widget] 50 times in 250 words…even if your top competitor is positioning with the same tactic?
Sigh. I hear you. Share your tale of woe in the comments!