Dear Jill,

Great newsletter. My business partner is developing our site and wants to put a list of keywords at the bottom of some of our shop pages (i.e. below the text) in the hopes that this will get the search engines to notice us slightly more.

I am concerned that the search engines will see this in a similar way to invisible writing, because it's there for the search engines not for the viewer of the page. Would it be considered body text spamming?

I'm suggesting he put it after the text title, so that it's useful information for the viewer.

Maybe it's okay to do both?

Many thanks,


Jill's Response

Hi Jenny,

You are correct that anything you do on your pages simply for the search engines that makes no sense for your real human visitors could be considered search engine spam. That doesn't mean that the search engines will notice or care, but there's always that chance.

Just this week I did a phone consultation with a company whose category pages had lost most of their rankings in Google. It's difficult to pinpoint the reason for sure, but every page of their site had a list of keywords as the first thing people saw at the top. There didn't appear to be any rhyme or reason for it, other than to try to appeal to search engines.

Basically, it just looked and sounded silly.

A list of keywords plunked on the pages of your website rarely makes sense from a user perspective, whether at the top of the page or at the bottom. This is why old-time spammers at least had the sense to make them invisible! (Not that you should do that either.)

What I never understand about this (and it does come up a lot) is why those keywords can't be easily worked into the actual copy of the page. Are they not relevant to what you're offering? If not, they don't belong anywhere on your site and you don't deserve to rank for them. If they are indeed relevant, then it should be a simple matter of writing some descriptive marketing copy that just happens to use the phrases you would otherwise stick on the page willy-nilly.

If you're unsure of how to do that, read Karon Thackston's past articles from this newsletter, and/or the articles on her site. You may want to purchase a copy of my Nitty-gritty Guide to Writing for the Search Engines as well.

Hope this helps!


Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

March 12, 2007

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Adding a List of Keywords