Keyword Stuffing Simple Bookmark Icon

Keyword stuffing is a negative SEO tactic that overloads a page with specific keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google's search results.

Last Updated November 13, 2023
Purple to white gradient footer header design


Got keywords? If you’ve got too many, you might be keyword stuffing. What is keyword stuffing? In search engine optimization (SEO), keyword stuffing is when you repeatedly use the same keyword (or phrase), affecting the content’s readability and usability.

Learn more about keyword stuffing’s meaning now!

What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the overuse of a word or phrase to the point where it affects the content’s readability. In SEO, keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO practice and violates Google’s spam policies for search.

Is keyword stuffing an SEO ranking factor?

Expert Insights From Google logo

“Our spam policies help protect users and improve the quality of search results. To be eligible to appear in Google web search results (web pages, images, videos, news content or other material that Google finds from across the web), content shouldn’t violate Google Search’s overall policies” (Source)


Keyword stuffing is considered an SEO ranking factor because it violates Google’s spam policies. According to Google, eligibility for appearing in search results begins with not violating its spam policies, which include keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, link spam, and more.

What are the types of keyword stuffing?

Let’s expand on keyword stuffing’s definition by exploring the two types of keyword stuffing:


Visible keyword stuffing is when the “stuffing” is visible to users. You can see an example of this below:

“Expedite your mornings with aluminum coffee pods. With these aluminum coffee pods, making coffee becomes fast and easy. Purchase your aluminum coffee pods today and bring more sunshine to your mornings!”

In the example above, we’re keyword stuffing with aluminum coffee pods.


Hidden keyword stuffing is when the “stuffing” is invisible to users. People will hide keywords by:

  • Matching text and background colors
  • Placing text behind images
  • Positioning text off-screen
  • Using small, unreadable font sizes

With this black-hat SEO tactic, users don’t “see” the keywords, but search engines do. Previously, this tactic was effective for ranking in organic search results, but search engines have become skilled at detecting this spammy practice.

Why is keyword stuffing in SEO bad?

Keyword stuffing in SEO is bad for a few reasons, including the following:

Violates spam policies

First, you’re violating Google’s spam policies when you keyword stuff.

If you’re banned from Google’s index, you’re banned from Google search results.

That alone should be reason enough not to overuse keywords in your content (or hide keywords on your site) because Google can ban your website from its index for these violations.

If you’re banned from Google’s index, you’re banned from Google search results.

Uses black-hat SEO

Second, keyword stuffing is a black-hat SEO practice, meaning it’s an unethical SEO practice. While some webmasters find success with black-hat SEO tactics, search engines like Google are updating their algorithms hundreds of times each year to diminish the returns of these tactics.

Affects user experience

Third, visible keyword stuffing affects the user experience. No one enjoys reading repetitive content, which is what keyword overuse creates. In response, users might bounce from your website and avoid your content in the search results later.

Diminishes brand perception

Fourth, keyword stuffing influences what people think of your brand. For example, viewers might think your brand doesn’t know what it’s talking about, which can remove your business from their considerations in choosing a service or product provider.

Overall, there are zero benefits to keyword stuffing in SEO today.

How to avoid keyword stuffing in SEO

Keyword stuffing in SEO isn’t exclusive to black-hat SEOs — beginner and seasoned SEOs unintentionally overuse keywords in their content. While their intentions are good (to show relevancy to users), the results aren’t. So, here are some ways to avoid keyword stuffing:

Read your content aloud

Before publishing your content, read your content aloud. If you don’t feel like reading your content aloud yourself, use Microsoft Word’s Read Aloud feature. There are also plenty of free tools that you can use for this purpose.

If you don’t feel like reading your content aloud yourself, use Microsoft Word’s Read Aloud feature.

Reading your content aloud will help you find instances where your keywords affected readability.

Review your keyword instances

Another trick we like to use is Ctrl+F, which lets you search a document for a word or phrase.

Here, you can view a keyword’s frequency and density. For example, is the keyword’s usage condensed to the introduction, or does the keyword appear throughout the page with plenty of spacing between insertions?

Based on your findings, you remove or adjust keyword appearances.

Check your content’s readability

Testing your content’s readability with a free tool like Hemingway Editor can also help you spot keyword stuffing. With this free tool, you copy and paste your content, and the app scores its readability and highlights where you can improve the content’s readability.

Put your audience first

You can also avoid keyword stuffing in SEO by emphasizing your target audience. Write from an audience- vs. SEO-first perspective, and you’ll likely find yourself inserting keywords less than when writing as an SEO.

Wipe out keyword stuffing from your SEO strategy

You’ve learned what keyword stuffing is in SEO. Now, start wiping keyword stuffing from your SEO strategy. With the above tips, you can begin taking a user-first approach to search engine optimization that aligns with Google’s goals for organizing the web’s content.

Need help with keywords and SEO? Get it with our award-winning team. Contact us today to learn more!

Don’t fail your website’s most important test

Get an SEO scorecard of your website for free in less than 30 seconds.