In the early days of the Internet and web usage, the key factor was to optimize a website so that the chances of getting hits or being viewed in a search engine were above average to very high. This came to be known as 'search engine optimization'. Soon, most websites were manipulating their web page rankings with 'keyword stuffing' to ensure higher rankings on search engines such as Google.
However, the method of ensuring higher optimization through search engines became so competitive that ethics and common sense seem to have vanished from the scene altogether. Websites were created with keywords jumbling and cascading one into the other, affiliates, back-links, redirects and link schemes being used rampantly. As one blogger writes, websites soon became mere pages with 'keyword stuffing' or over usage of keywords and phrases combined with 'odd use of keywords, nonsense phrases, keyword variations' and many others classified as 'unreadable junk' that soon passed off as web content.
Over-optimization of websites
The practice of simply shoving or putting as many 'SEO' keywords or “over optimization” of a webpage has long worried web masters and administrators and put them in a quandary of how to establish ethics and curb this practice for many reasons. Ranking high on the priority list are “terrible user experiences” because visitors to a website are not interested in seeing a single word or phrase repeated over a 100 times randomly through the pages of a website.
The factors identifying over-optimized websites are:
• Title elements of pages stuffed with keywords
• Lengthy URL strings with rich keywords
• Web pages filled with SEO content that are really unintended for visitor usage
• Low quality editorial links to back-link profiles
Search engines like Google soon began to use methods to filter out web content with pages of offending keyword stuffing because these web pages were by and large aimed at getting maximum hits and not providing useful content for the visitor or customer.
The dangers of over-optimizing
These are many.
Firstly, once a visitor to a website finds the content lacking in useful details, he or she is not likely to come back to the site again. There goes a lost potential customer or referral that could in real payback terms cost a lot.
Secondly, 'keyword stuffing' is today looked at as an 'unnatural' tactic; it could have a few short-term benefits but long-term returns are lost out completely.
Google's technical team is working out ways and means to eliminate the habit of keyword stuffing because it is unethical in the competitive sense. By making GoogleBot more efficient and smarter they are looking at making content relevance better. This is easier said than done. Finding web users who abuse the Internet by loading irrelevant content and too many back links is the best way to eliminate keyword stuffing of web content.
As one of the top tech executives at Google puts it, “it is a tough world out there; but the onus of ensuring that good web content gets higher rankings than those who simply use tactics to influence ratings rests with us. It is not fair to those who make great content and a great website but do not feature in the search rankings “. On the whole, Google has made it very clear that websites using methods that focus on beating their search engine algorithms are likely to be de-ranked or removed from the web altogether.
In other words, keyword stuffing is proving to be the undoing of many and is a dangerous game being played out on the web. The onus is on websites to change the way they use the web from 'keyword stuffing to responsible keyword optimization'.