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However, at the risk of touching a nerve, most of us are here to find out how to attain better rankings and the two are not mutually exclusive.
It is a VERY fine line. How do you define spam? More than 10 repetitions of a keyword? More than 20? More than 50?
Google is a giant calculator. It doesn't know how to read. It all comes down to ones and zeros. Proximity, repetition, links etc.
How many people here would lose rankings if Googles algo suddenly says "ignore pages with over 20 repeated keywords on a page".
More than would admit it, I would guess.
Brett has an excellent post around here on how to create winning optimization. It's well worth studying. And throw out the optimization software. ;)
The thing I discovered about Google is very simple and straightforward. Google is a two-part problem.
Part 1: Create a page that is clean and decently optimized for a keyword phrase or two. See Brett's post for more info. All you need here is to be in the ballpark. Perfect optimization isn't necessary.
Part 2: Get inbound links, with correct anchor text in place, from high PR pages! In my view, this is more important than optimization.
Without Part 2 as an equal part of your Internet marketing strategy, you're not gonna go anywhere in competitive categories.
What I'm saying here, bottom line, is that keyword manipulation (20, 50 times, etc.) is spammy if not in natural or nearly-natural language. Additionally, it is ineffective, a waste of time and pointless. You don't need to do it.
This strategy works well for me, in some rather difficult categories. That's my two cents on this topic, anyway.
I find that preening keyphrase density and being over-zealous with proximity and such, you tend to take away from your true objective: to provide a useful, informative resource, whether or not you're selling anything. You're trying to satisfy a visitor, rather than a spider.
A page with 500 words, and 20 or so keyphrase repetitions, to me, is SPAM. Why not, instead, spend all that effort and energy on writing a sub-topic? Why not expand?
When we started this SEO thing we were consumed with making different pages for keyphrases for different engines, with different densities, and descriptions and such. What a mistake! Besides being a colosol waste of time, it was counter-intuitive. We've found that writing half-way descent content is much more effective than some robotic sounding text.
If google wants to cut out these stuffed pages, go ahead, I'm not worried.