Should You Highlight a Keyword in Bold?

Last Update: June 06, 2021

So, when I am offering feedback, I have often noticed that a lot of people make their keyword bold. Is this necessary, does it impact SEO, does it affect ranking? Let's find out.

As it turns out, this is an old technique, that was often used to fool the Google bots many years ago. Think of it in the same way as keyword stuffing - people were bolding words that actually had nothing to do with the subject of their content, in the hope of Google ranking their post for those words.

Nowadays, Google takes no notice of bold words and treats them just like the rest of your writing. In other words, they have no effect on ranking.

However, they could be seen as a "soft SEO strategy" because they can improve user experience. Initially, a reader will simply scan your post to see if it answers their questions. A few bold keywords will stand out and make it obvious what your post is about.

Just as in everything else, moderation is the key here. Only a couple of bold words in a paragraph. And don't bold entire sentences, otherwise, you will lose the emphasis on the important words.

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BobMargroff Premium
Hi Diane. I bold my primary keyword in my posts as a reminder to myself to be sure to stay on topic. I really don't think about doing it for Google... as I didn't think it would matter to them.

But, thanks for this post. 😊

I wish you the best!
ParthaB Premium
Hey Diane,

Bolding keywords is very "2005", LOL.

Back when keyword stuffing was deemed acceptable, you could typically include your keyword 10-15 times in a 500-word article, and bold the keyword every single time.

This would look awful from a customer perspective, but at the time ranking was extremely robotic, and this was considered good SEO practice.

Basically, you weren't writing for your visitor, you were simply writing in a way to "trick" the search engines.

Google has matured a LOT since then, and as you say, this has absolutely no bearing on SEO/rankings nowadays.

I will add something from a personal perspective, if you don't mind? (Sorry, I can never just "leave it", can I? LOL)

If I write a response-type article. i.e The article title is a question and the actual article is a straightforward answer, then I do use a system of "bolding" that goes against the grain.

Straight after my introduction I'll have an H2 tag which is "the question".

I then write a one-block answer, typically 2-3 sentences, approximately 50-80 words.

I'll then bold the entire answer and then colour the entire block in a bright colour.

I am literally telling Google, "This is the answer to the question".

For me, it has proven fairly successful in getting the Featured Snippet in Google for a variety of phrases.

Obviously, it doesn't work every single time (nothing works every single time in Google does it, haha).

However, I will say that my percentage of Featured Snippets is fairly high in relation to articles written.

So, I definitely agree about NOT bolding keywords, it plays no part in SEO.

I guess it's just a case of playing around with other practices and seeing what works and what doesn't.

Generalinfo Premium Plus
lol... I made a couple of sites a while ago and we had all kinds of things to try. Things really have come a long way and we will need to keep up with it to stay on top

SHINEPAGE1 Premium Plus
Excellent as usual Diane , you always provide value with each of your post , once you post it's a must read for me. Thanks Diane , nice one
Karim689 Premium
This is something new for me.

Thanks 😊 for sharing Diane!

It's very helpful !

DinaMartin Premium
Thanks Diane. Good to know.