It all adds up

Businesses often contact SEO companies like RankPop with questions about their website’s rankings. For one reason or another they have realized that their website is ranking much lower than it has in the past, and they cannot identify an immediate cause. They’re not doing anything blatantly negative or against the more obvious of Google’s guidelines, and they’re still working consistently on their SEO… but things still aren’t looking up for them.


There are a variety of causes for rankings that are lower than expected or desired, and the likelihood that any two websites will experience the same ranking troubles because of the exact same set of circumstances is incredibly small. Simply put this means that if your rankings are lower than you’d like them to be, there could be a variety of causes behind your website’s downward migration. One thing that won’t do your rankings any favors is the misuse of keywords. Keyword optimization is one of the most basic elements of an SEO campaign, but it is also one of the easiest to mess up if you’re not careful.

Keyword misuses can spell big trouble for your website

Following on the heels of the success of the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates Google has been updating their guidelines and preferences for website content. Much of this has been done with little to no fanfare, so unless you follow these sorts of documentation changes, you might not be aware of the current status of said guidelines. Google has the tendency to speak in the vaguest possible terms, but even considering this it is hard to mistake their call for “quality” content and content that is “natural-sounding” for anything else. The definition of quality differs from person to person, but use of the following techniques is likely to bring your rankings down.

Optimizing for a single keyword per page – This is a bad idea because you’re limiting yourself to a single keyword for an entire page of content. This scenario also invites instances of keyword stuffing and grammatical misuses as well.

Keyword overuse – Or keyword stuffing, whichever you prefer. The days when including your keyword X number of times within a fixed number of characters in order to achieve a high density of that keyword in your content imparted any measurable benefits are long gone. Today doing so can actually earn you an over-optimization penalty.

Unnatural keyword use – If you’re having to force a keyword to fit somewhere, chances are you should try to find another place for it. Placing plural keywords in a sentence where a singular version is more fitting is only going to make your website look bad. Using every synonym you can think of for a given keyword in the same sentence is also in bad form and smacks of the keyword stuffing of meta tags that was popular years ago.

Your takeaway

The way I see it, the more in line your website is with Google’s guidelines, preferences, and recommendations, the better your chances are of ranking well now and in the future, especially when you pair good keyword management with other SEO techniques.