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Keywords: why only soft toy monkeys should be stuffed

The infinite monkey theorem proposes that over an unlimited period of time, a monkey using a typewriter would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. However, before that happened, it would most certainly produce phrases more like this:

“Ben’s cheap furniture in Oxford is cheapest oxford furniture with a range of cheap furniture available in Oxford.”

If, like me, you’ve ever  accidentally stumbled across a website only to be confronted with content that looks like it’s been written by one of the earlier monkeys, not only is it annoying and likely to result in my leaving the page, but it is also a practice that can result in your website being kicked out of the rankings for the major search engines.

The practice of keyword stuffing, or getting as many SEO-specific entries into your text as possible, had its heyday of being successful many years ago, and is now considered both irresponsible and lazy.

In order to rank more highly in a search engine’s results, you do need a density of keywords that indicates that your page might be relevant to whoever is searching. While the algorithms used by many popular search engines are a closely guarded (and ever changing) secret, a density of 2-5% is considered to be safe.

Whilst keywords are an essential part of getting your content to its audience, engines like Google also use an algorithm that compares synonyms in your content, so you can be more creative, less repetitive, and relevant to a wider audience. Of particular interest is the popular rise of the ‘long-tail keyword’, or more precisely the fact that search engines can now match a phrase or a sentence rather than just words. Understanding how people use searches and incorporating this into your content can greatly increase your audience reach.

Richard has a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, and has experience writing fiction and short stories (which he has published both online and in magazines).

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