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Small businesses sometimes struggle with SEO, especially with keyword-rich content, and instead resort to ineffective, potentially harmful practices like keyword stuffing.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating a specific keyword over and over on a web page, in the hopes that one of the variations will exactly match what a searcher is looking for. In the very old days of the web – 1999-2005 – it was an effective practice because search engines used little to no artificial intelligence to match results. Today, it’s badly out of date, easily spotted by search engine algorithms, and penalized in search results.

I recently hired a plumber to install something at my house, and in checking out the plumber’s website, I saw evidence of keyword stuffing at the bottom of each page:

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Keyword stuffing hasn’t worked for SEO in almost a decade; a quick search on Moz.com shows SEO professionals debating what constitutes keyword stuffing since 2008.

Small Business SEO: Use Testimonials Instead!

What do search engines value? Relevant, unique, fresh content. How can a small business create keyword-rich, relevant content on a regular and frequent basis? One of the easiest ways to do this is with testimonials.

Let’s look at the plumber above. Instead of stuffing a page full of terms in tiny text at the bottom, the first step to take would be to determine which of those general terms is searched the most. Use a simple, free service like Google Trends to identify the most commonly searched terms:

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Once we know what the top terms are in the area, we create unique content:

  • Solicit testimonials from customers about that particular problem.
  • Instead of a page filled with junk text, create a page with a customer talking about how you installed their new water heater in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Feature photos of the old and new water heater.
  • List parts or steps taken to fix the problem.
  • Add a video of your customer or employee talking about the installation and anything unique about it – and have the interview transcribed as text on the page.

Testimonials help us create relevant, keyword-rich, unique content that our competitors are unlikely to create. Even if we solve the same problem, our methodology is likely to be different. The best part of using testimonials for small business SEO is that it also helps build trust; testimonials are third-party endorsements of what we do.

If you haven’t started collecting testimonials from customers, start immediately. If customers are recalcitrant, offer discounts, coupons, or incentives to encourage them to participate. By collecting testimonials, you’ll create rich, unique content that bolsters trust in your business, but also attracts new customers by matching search queries with keywords in contextually appropriate content.


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