Why Keyword Stuffing Hurts

I hope this blog post finds your March going well!
We’ve been busy at CommercialTruckTrader.com and EquipmentTraderOnline.com working on the new search, traveling to Conexpo / Conagg, and continuing several other projects that I hope to begin revealing to the world at large in the very near future. There has been an issue highlighted, however, in our feedback that I wanted to talk about briefly. My hope is to convey the impact that this issue has on our user’s experience!
This problem is called “keyword stuffing” which refers to when the description of an ad is “stuffed” with terms that do not pertain to what a person is searching for. Here’s a good example:
I performed a keyword search for “4×4 diesel dump truck”. Most of the ads returned are very close to these terms with the exception of this 2500 HD Chevy light truck that pops up. The text in the ad’s description that is making this truck show up for this search is:
WE ALSO HAVE DUMPS, FLATBEDS, COVERED SERVICE BODIES, VANS, CAB CHASSIS, DIESEL TRUCKS, GAS TRUCKS, PICK-UPS, POLICE AND GOVERNMENT VEHICLES, HHR’S, AND BOX TRUCKS.
For the user of the search, this appears wrong, although I understand that a seller wants to share that they may have other types of inventory available. Now that we ask for feedback in the new search, this is what I typically receive in my email when users see results like this:
I put in keywords 4×4, flatbed and it didn’t do either one.  It gave me everything.  Get this fixed!  Keywords mean it’s in the ad… obviously not… DISLIKE
While adding additional keywords into a description may increase the number of eyeballs seeing an ad in the search results, it drastically decreases the actual lead conversion ratio. Someone searching for “dump trucks” is highly unlikely to click to see the ad details of a light duty pick-up, even less likely to then contact the seller of that ligh duty pick-up. More worrisome, the user that emails to say “DISLIKE” may never come back to the site, removing a potential buyer from our user base!
It’s very expensive to trade a single search results impression for a website user. Even if only 1 out of 1,000 visitors decides to never return, that’s 20 people, every day, that won’t return to the site, 140 potential buyers every week going to another site to buy.
You can compare the experience to when you’re searching Google for a specific set of keywords, but keep finding irrelevant links in the results.  You have to manually sift through them, scanning when the point of Google is to do that sifting for you.  The same frustration that occurs there applies to CommercialTruckTrader or EquipmentTraderOnline. It’s easy to feel the user’s frustration when they send notes like the one quoted above.
For the dealerships and other businesses subscribed to our Inventory Management Tool, you can use the Online Repeating Message for sharing with users that you sell other types of inventory as well. You can find this in your IMT by:
  1. Clicking the “edit profile” link next to your dealership name at the top of the page.
  2. Scroll down till you see the field “Online Repeating Message.”
  3. Enter whatever message you want to show up on all of your ad detail pages.
Our preference is not to change the behavior of the keyword search field, but to help those that supply ads for our sites to appreciate the impact “keyword stuffing” can have on the overall user experience. In the long run it can impact the number of users coming to the site and by extension shrink the number of buyers looking for inventory on our sites.  We certainly want to avoid this situation and preserve as large a buying user base as possible with as smooth a user experience as possible!
If you’re traveling to MATS, make sure to stop by the booth!
– Ryan
You can find me on twitter @IndustrialDev
or email me: ryan.goodwin@dominionenterprises.com

One thought on “Why Keyword Stuffing Hurts

  1. Good article regarding keyword stuffing. I agree it is frustrating when you are searching for a particular subject and something else comes up. In some of the news letters I respond to this is an area of concern.

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