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Attorney Marketing 101: Keyword Stuffing

keyword stuffing word cloud
Photo credit: Flickr

Black hat search engine optimization (SEO) is exciting. In the heat of the moment, when the less-than-reputable tactic still works, there’s always a flurry of activity as search engine marketers try to figure out how best to use it, without being caught. When they do get caught, there’s the frantic struggle to minimize the impact of the penalty that gets leveled against everyone who took part in the scheme. Finally, marketers conduct a post-mortem of the technique, and the silliness of the venture starts to show.

A classic example of how this process unfolds in real life comes from the technique of keyword stuffing.

Keyword Stuffing

Once it came out that search engines like Google were able to rank pages based on their content, search engine marketers tried manipulating the process by filling pages with nothing but keywords. After all, if Google was reading content to determine what the website was about, then a page with 100 instances of the word “backpack” would rank higher in a search for backpack than a page with only 3 instances of the word, right?

As soon as search engine marketers realized that it was working, of course, they took it to new extremes. Websites that wanted to rank highly for searches in certain cities, like Boston, would have pages dedicated to the words Boston and Massachusetts.

Search Engines Notice

Needless to say, search engines eventually noticed. They are, after all, in the business of giving their searchers a listing of relevant and important websites for every search query conceivable. Now, queries for “Barry Bonds” were being topped by pages selling baseball cards of the slugger, utterly filled with his name over and over again. It ran against the business model, and something had to be done.

Keyword Stuffing: Where We Are Now

The solution was to change the search engine algorithms to weed out and penalize websites that contained a word or phrase too often, or over a certain percentage of the total words in the site. Of course, search engines keep the exact details of these changes covered in secrecy, so it’s impossible to know with exact certainty when a word is being used “too often,” or what percentage is “too much.” However, Google has stated that keywords should be used “appropriately and in context,” and that content should sounds like it was written naturally.

Professional Legal Blogging Avoids the Headache

Getting slammed with a penalty for keyword stuffing can doom the ranking of your law firm’s website, costing you thousands of dollars in lost clientele who can no longer find your site. Hiring quality legal bloggers like those at Myers Freelance, however, can avoid the problem entirely, handing the responsibilities of crafting top-notch legal content to the professionals who know exactly how it should be done. Contact us online.