On-Page SEO

Poison Word

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Jul 4, 2023

Poison Word

What is a Poison Word?

In SEO, a "poison word" refers to a word or phrase that can negatively impact the ranking of a webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs).

The list of "poison words" isn't public knowledge and indeed varies from one search engine to another.

However, certain categories of words, such as those associated with adult content, gambling, illegal activities, and other topics often deemed inappropriate or controversial, may be considered "poison words" because search engines could filter or limit these results in an attempt to maintain a safe and user-friendly browsing experience.

Here are some examples of words or phrases that can be considered "poison words" in SEO, as they may have a negative impact on your website's rankings or user experience:

  • Free: While offering free products or services can be legitimate, using the word "free" excessively or in a deceptive manner can attract low-quality traffic or lead to spammy practices.

  • Cheap: Similar to "free," using the word "cheap" excessively or in a manipulative way can attract users looking for low-quality or discounted products/services, which may not align with your brand or target audience.

  • Guaranteed: Making exaggerated claims or promises of guaranteed results can be misleading and may harm your website's credibility. It's important to provide realistic expectations and avoid overpromising.

  • Spam: Using the word "spam" frequently or inappropriately can raise concerns for search engines, as it suggests that your content might be spammy or irrelevant.

  • Clickbait: While Clickbait headlines or content may attract initial attention, it often leads to a negative user experience when the actual content does not fulfill the promised value. Search engines aim to provide users with relevant and reliable content, so clickbait can harm your rankings.

  • Virus, malware, scam: These words can raise red flags for search engines and users, as they indicate potential security risks or fraudulent activities. It's important to avoid associating your website with such terms.

Remember, search engines value high-quality content, user experience, and ethical SEO practices.

Using poison words or engaging in manipulative tactics can harm your website's reputation and rankings.

It's important to note that the use of such terms alone won't necessarily harm a website's ranking.

Search engine algorithms are sophisticated and consider a wide range of factors when determining a page's relevance and quality.

However, excessive or inappropriate use of such terms—particularly in ways that appear manipulative or deceptive—can potentially harm a site's SEO.

What if we use poison words logically in the content?

Using poison words logically in your content may not necessarily harm a website's ranking or reputation, as long as they are used appropriately and in moderation.

For example, if an article is about the dangers of online scams, it may be necessary to use words like "scam" or "fraud" to accurately describe the topic.

Similarly, if an article is about the negative effects of pornography, using words related to explicit content may be appropriate.

However, it's important to avoid using poison words excessively or in an attempt to manipulate search rankings.

This can harm a website's credibility and visibility and may result in penalties from search engines.

Ultimately, the focus should be on creating high-quality, informative content that provides value to the reader, rather than on trying to manipulate search rankings through the use of poison words.


Poison words are typically associated with low-quality content, decreasing a website's ranking in SERPs.

Website owners and content creators should avoid using such damaging words and focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that provides value to their audience.

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