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Search Engine Optimization & Keywords: To Stuff or Not to Stuff

Sep 12, 2008
You've completed the painstaking process of carefully selecting keywords for your web content. Your next question may be: how do I use them? It seems that there are hundreds of different opinions regarding the distribution and placement of keywords. In fact, there are people who make a good living evaluating how search engines work. But the truth is, no one really knows exactly how they operate.

Search engines evaluate web content using highly secretive algorithms. If the average person could figure this out easily, then everyone would be able to manipulate them. This would negate the value of them, thus causing the fortunes of the companies that own them to disappear. So perhaps it's a good thing that they remain secretive. This levels the playing field, allowing small businesses that can't afford advertising an equal shot at garnering web traffic.

Instead, it's possible to take what is already known about the major search engines and use the information to one's advantage. It is widely understood and accepted that one major way that they determine rankings is based on text. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of inserting keywords into web text which helps launch a site's ranking to the top.

Before you think about stuffing an article full of your keywords, consider that search engines are not easy to fool. They are programmed to weed out trickery. Even when stuffed articles initially make it past early scrutiny, they are likely to be pulled once the deception is discovered. The secret is striking the right ratio between keywords and all of the other words in the document.

Opinion on the matter of keyword ratio is a source of debate between Internet experts. However, it's generally agreed that their number should equal between 1.5% and 5% of the total number of words in the article. It doesn't sound like a big discrepancy. But when you crunch numbers, you can see how they play out. If you apply this theory to a 500 word article, then a 1.5% ratio means that eight out 500 words are keywords (The actual figure is 7.5 words, but we'll round up for the sake of simplicity.) On the high end of the scale, a 5% ratio means that your chosen terms equal 25 words. Now the discrepancy is apparent. That's a difference of 17 words.

The bottom line points back to what already stated. No one really knows exactly how search engines operate. What is known is that some articles with a keyword density of 1.5% rank lower and some rank higher. The same goes for articles with 5% density. That's likely due, at least in part, to the fact that text isn't the only factor which influences rankings. Things like internal and external links, tags and meta tags, and many other factors also affect a web-page's ranking.

The only way you may ever know for sure is to post articles with keyword densities which vary between 1.5% and 5%. Then, evaluate your rankings. Within a few postings you'll probably start to see what works best for your site. But stuffing is probably not the best route to achieving a high ranking.
About the Author
Author Mike Lawson manages the Custom Writing Service for an online writing and editing company. His team works with hundreds of authors on their article marketing campaigns. Looking for custom article writers? Find yours at Marketing Squad.
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