Keyword Stuffing and Google Panda: A Little Salt?

What is ‘Keyword Stuffing?’ Can you go too far, or not far enough when it comes to inserting keywords into SEO-optimized content?
Here’s a question from one of my book readers. ‘My name is ~ and I am an SEO Project Manager for ~ I recently read your book and thought it was very helpful! However, on page 103, about the motorcycle insurance screenshot, my coworkers and I thought it would be keyword stuffing to use “motorcycle insurance” that many times on a web page. We chose to avoid this practice on our website because we believe Google would penalize us for this.’

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Keywords: Basic SEO Principles

There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the blogosphere when it comes to keywords. Namely –

  • Keywords do NOT matter for SEO – just write for humans!
  • Don’t ‘stuff’ keywords – you can over do it!
  • Keywords are important, and you should weave your keywords into your content via key tags such as the TITLE tag, Meta Description etc.

There’s some truth in all of these. I like to use analogies, so let’s look at this one: MAKING SOUP – Keyword Stuffing and Google Panda

  • A little salt is GOOD FOR THE SOUP
  • Too much salt RUINS THE SOUP
  • You need salt to make GOOD SOUP

The point being… that – keywords – like SOUP are necessary for effective ON PAGE SEO. Another point – you can “taste” the soup and see IN REALITY what works, so you don’t have to just accept what you read or hear from so-called ‘experts’ including me. Let’s investigate KEYWORDS. (Tool tip – you can use the SEO CENTRO KEYWORD density tool here.

Searches and Keyword Density

First and foremost, DO SOME EXPERIMENTS. Look at the pages that are WINNING and then dissect their keyword density and content. As for example,

And, to be a bit ironic, Keyword Stuffing and then The Dangers of SEO Keyword Stuffing.


Some conclusions can be made. First and foremost, you need to embed your keywords into the strategic tags such as the TITLE, META DESCRIPTION, ANCHOR, HEADER, etc. Tag structure matters MORE than just raw text. Second, pages that win often are HEAVIER than ‘normal English,’ which implies that ‘stuffing’ (like salt in a soup) is a bit of a subjective choice and not as objective as you would think. Third, Panda tells us to use good grammar and write ‘normal’ English sentences that have related words, make sense, and would get at least a grade of ‘B’ in High School English. You can’t just write crappy content! Fourth, do your searches and look at what’s winning. That will tell you MORE about what’s ‘normal’ in your industry than Google’s official blog posts or the blogosphere. Fifth, beware of ‘false dichotomies.’ It’s not ‘write for Google’ or ‘write for humans,’ it’s not ‘keyword stuff’ or write ‘for humans.’ It’s both – you want GOOD CONTENT that has KEYWORDS IN IT that is both GOOD FOR GOOGLE and GOOD FOR HUMANS.

Photo credit: Marcie Casas via / CC BY

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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.