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How Keyword Stuffing Can Create SEO Nightmares

In our last blog post, we covered a new development in the world of search engine optimization (SEO): Google developers had revealed that keyword stuffing penalties were on the wane. Websites that had lots of keywords crammed awkwardly onto a page were still ranking well, if the rest of the page was still highly valuable.

Does that mean you should sign off on your next legal blog post with “Our personal injury lawyers attorneys serve clients in Los Angeles, Hollywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park, West Los Angeles, Chinatown, Glendale, Inglewood, Central Los Angeles, Ladera Heights, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Los Feliz, Culver City, and Santa Monica”?

No. One reason why it’s not a good idea is because that’s a great way to confuse search engines in a way that puts the wrong page at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) – something that you don’t want to do.

But First: Keywords, and Stuffing Them into Content

First, though, a refresher on keywords and the practice of keyword stuffing.

Keywords are the targeted words and phrases that you want your law firm to rank well in. If you’re a criminal defense attorney in Dallas who focused on white collar crimes, then, your keywords would include:

  • Dallas and all of the surrounding towns and cities
  • Texas
  • White collar criminal defense
  • White collar defense
  • Fraud, including all of the particular types of crimes that you want to defend against, the most

Because these are the words and phrases that you most want to target, it makes sense to use them in your law firm’s content as much as possible. This leads logically to the thought, “why don’t I just use them constantly, even if it becomes difficult to read?”

If pursued, this would become keyword stuffing. According to Yoast, this line tends to be crossed when one of your targeted keywords accounts for more than 5% of the words on a page.

But so what? If Google isn’t really penalizing sites for keyword stuffing, anymore, then why not push the envelope and hammer those keywords?

The Problem of High Rankings for the Wrong Page

Because when you cram a lot of keywords onto one page, that page will begin to score well for a lot of different searches… Including a lot of searches that it has little to do with.

Keyword stuffing confuses search engines and promotes the wrong pageIn the legal marketing world, this frequently appears in issues of geography. Law firms who don’t know how to effectively create content for their website will often list, ad nauseam, all of the places they practice, just like in the example we used in the second paragraph of this post. This can have an unfortunate but predictable outcome: A piece dedicated to one local issue (say, residential zoning issues in Hollywood) is near the top of the rankings for a different locale (residential zoning issues in Huntington Park). People in the latter are hit with your law firm’s post on the former—something relatively irrelevant for what they’re looking for.

The best outcome for your firm in this situation is when the searcher doesn’t click on your post. This makes your article’s click-through-rate fall and slowly pushes it down in the results. It’s bad, but it’s the best outcome because the negative effects are largely confined to the particular page in the results listing.

The more likely outcome, though, is that the reader clicks on your post, only to realize that what they’re reading is off-topic. They’ll go back to the results page for something else, increasing your site’s bounce rate, killing its time spent on page metric, and sending other signals to the search engine that the result is poor quality.

Myers Freelance: Professional Blog Writing for the Legal World

This is just another example of how search engine marketing can trip up attorneys who have better things to do with their time. By hiring the professional legal bloggers at Myers Freelance, you can rest assured that your blog will be crafted in ways that bring in the most and the best clients possible.