A common pattern of thinking dictates that if a little of something is good then more of it must be better. From the gardener who over-waters her plants to the amateur chef who overdoes the pepper, the tendency to overdo and overuse is one that some of us give in to on a nearly daily basis. This problem is often seen in the writing of keyword articles, which are short pieces of web copy that are written to prominently feature certain keywords and keyword phrases with the ultimate goal of having the page rank highly when web surfers use internet search engines to seek information on the keyword topic. There is a real tendency for writers of keyword articles to use the keyword as much as possible, thereby sacrificing readability in the misguided hope that a very highly keyword dense article will convince the search engine that their article is the most relevant one. This tendency to fill an article with keywords and keyword phrases is called overstuffing, and is misguided in multiple ways, some of which will be discussed in this article.
The one major distinction between well written keyword articles and those that are overstuffed is that well written articles are written to inform and/or entertain, whereas keyword stuffed articles are written with the sole purpose in mind of deceiving the search engines. This is misguided to say the least. If a surfer were to click on your link in the expectation of finding useful information and instead be greeted with a page overflowing with keyword stuffed garbage, you can be sure that the back button is the first thing they are going to click--not links to the rest of your site.
The writers of overstuffed keyword articles operate on the mistaken assumption that search engine algorithms are fairly stupid and will not realize that the overstuffed article is not meant for human consumption. The opposite is true--search engines actually penalize pages that are overly keyword dense, since it is clear that these articles are not for human consumption and are rather attempts to trick the search engine. To consider an absurd example of keyword stuffing, imagine writing a keyword article about watches. A good article will feature the keywords "watch", "watches", "timepiece", etc., while the hypothetically keyword overstuffed article will feature only those keywords and nothing else. Over and over, the page is filled with hundreds of keywords without any information. Clearly, any reasonably sophisticated search engine algorithm will dump that page right away.
Well written keyword articles are crafted with both the search engines and the readers in mind. They do not have to be highly keyword stuffed. In fact, most successful keyword articles feature the keyword from two to five percent. Any more than five percent yields articles that are increasingly difficult to read and likely to be penalized by the search engine. By keeping all of your users in mind, you can rank highly in the search engines and also inform and/or entertain your readers.
Gary Russell is a professional software engineer and a freelance writer and is the founder of TopSearch Consulting, a full service web content provider, specializing in custom