Fixing Google Manual Action: Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing


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Google Manual Spam

You’ve written your article. It’s beautiful. After all, you wrote it, you gorgeous Gorgon of wordcraft. But when all is said and done, there just aren’t enough keywords to get your page to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages). All the beautiful writing in the world won’t help you get views and conversions if your page isn’t easily accessible to new people. So what do you do?

turkey and stuffing
Keyword stuffing: not as delicious as it sounds.

Google Manual Action: Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing

If you’re like a lot of unfortunate writers, you resort to hiding text and stuffing your page with keywords. Buuuuut…these tactics will get your site flagged in violation of Google’s guidelines. Your site will get demoted or removed from Google’s search results, and you’ll get a nice little email from Google telling you why. Nobody wants that.

If you’ve done this, don’t worry. Grab a towel to wipe away your sweat, get ready to fix your site, and remember: don’t panic.

But why does Google care so much about it, anyway? Is it really any of their business what the websites they link to do with their site design?

The fundamental principle of site building, according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, is to make your page for users, not for search engines. Having sites that use these tactics be among their first results reduces Google’s credibility as a useful search engine. Its job is to be user-friendly; if you’re not a user-friendly website, it’s not going to promote you. It’s a way to encourage good site design.

Ultimately, avoiding these tactics is going to aid your professionalism and give your users a better experience to associate with your company. You don’t actually have to trick people into giving you more views. If you provide the right content, they’ll visit on their own.

What Does Hidden Text and Keyword Stuffing Even Look Like?

Turkey Stuffing in Green Bowl on Wood Table
Sorry. We can’t stop with the stuffing. It just looks so good. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Hidden text and keyword stuffing are bad for your website, even if they seemed like such a good idea at the time. But how do you identify them?

Examples of Hidden Text:

  • White text on a white background
  • Hiding text behind an image or offscreen
  • Setting the font size to zero
  • Hiding a link by linking only one small character
  • Hiding repeated text in alt text

The theme with these: anything that Google’s search engine could conceivably pull up, but your average human user wouldn’t even know was there. It’s extraneous text – and ultimately that’s only going to make it harder for your users to load your webpage, making your website a slower and more frustrating experience. It’s inaccessible. You don’t need it, so let it go. We’ll spare you an image of Elsa from Frozen. Just this once, though.

Examples of Keyword Stuffing:

  • Pointlessly repeating words and phrases (so that it sounds like it wasn’t written by a human)
  • Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
  • Blocks of text listing things your webpage is trying to rank for

The goal here is to restyle text so that it’s easily discoverable and usable by human users. If you give your users a block of uninteresting or useless text, they’re going to look at it and walk away.

People who use the internet are busy and need information on your site to be immediately accessible and easy to find. They’re your audience, not robots!

3D rendering of female robot head that shatters.
We love you, too, though, robots.

Once you have cleaned up your website, get back creating a Reconsideration Request for Google which explains that your site is no longer guilty of hidden text or keyword stuffing. They’ll look it over in a couple of weeks, and then clear up your record. But that all takes time: time that you may not have. Frankly, it’s easier just to avoid the whole mess in the first place, if at all possible.

How do I Avoid Falling into This While Still Upping Views?

Banner with the phrase content cut out of paper
Spoiler alert. Content is king, after all.

It’s not like wanting to up your visibility is a bad thing, right? Of course not. There has to be better ways to increase the number of keywords on your page without getting flagged for poor design tactics by Google.

So if you do need to up your keyword count, here are two sensational and user-friendly ways to do so without running afoul of bad website form.  

Disability Accessibility

Consider including captions and descriptive text for your images and videos. Yes, people with low vision and blindness use the internet! Whoa! What a concept (please note, we’re being sarcastic. Of course they do). People with varied vision often use screen readers to adapt the world to their disability. Most will appreciate having a description of the image they can’t see so that they can enjoy it too.

As with many accessibility accommodations, this will also benefit your other users. Some may have poor internet connections, mobile browsers, or browsers without plug-ins. Having a text replacement for your images makes their lives easier, and gives them a more rewarding experience with your website. It’s a win for everyone!

Create More Content

This may seem a tad over-obvious, but sometimes you just have to get back to your basics. Look at your webpage. Is there anywhere you can expand? What kind of links or resources would your user base need? What would they Google after going on your website, and how can you make that readily available to them? Your content is your website’s product; if you can’t produce enough content, maybe that’s the actual problem.

Still Feeling Overwhelmed?

Don’t worry. Our team of experts is here to help. We’re the best at what we do and we’re ready to help you dominate your competition. Contact us today, and we’ll help you build the website content of your dreams.

More in Our Google Manual Actions Series

Unnatural Links to Your Site

Unnatural Links from Your Site

Cloaking and Sneaky Redirects

Hacked Site

Pure Spam

Spammy Structured Markup

User-generated Spam

Spammy Freehosts

Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing

And more coming soon!

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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