This year at SXSW Matt Cutts broke the norm and decided to pre-announce a Google update targeting over optimization. This has sent the SEO world into a panic with people rapidly changing their sites in an effort to tone down their SEO efforts other people have called BS on the over optimisation penalty. Either way can you afford to take the risk?
Below I have outlined the key factors that Google are likely to analyse when assessing website over optimisation.
Spammy Title Tags
If your title tags are a list of keywords it’s time to change them to something a little more readable, for example if you’re a UK SEO Company and your title tag reads “UK SEO Agency | UK SEO Company | SEO UK Services” chances are you are going to get slapped by Google. Now I know what you are thinking “But if I change my title tag now I will end up on page 3 or worse?” it’s possible that you will lose rank for some key phrases once the tag is changed, but stuffing all those keywords in your title tag looks spammy as hell and is going to give you poor CTR. A much nicer page title would be “BrandName a UK SEO Company / Agency” and then build a separate page for SEO Services instead of trying to include all your content on the home page.
The same applies to your Meta Description make sure it’s readable by a human. Google no longer uses the Meta Description in it’s ranking algorithm however it’s going to throw a switch if it’s stuffed with keywords and again, if it looks spammy it’s going to affect your CTR.
Back Link Profile
If your backlink profile is made up of scummy bought links, comment spam, spun articles, link networks and other evils then you are in trouble. If possible I suggest you go back through and try to remove the poor quality links, if it’s not possible your best option would be to build some good quality links to even our the % of bad quality links.
Here are the key areas to avoid:
- Links from sites that have been penalised
- Link networks / Building link networks
- Comment spam (especially automated
- Forum signature links from bad forums / don’t use exact match links
- Reciprocal links (swapping links with people)
Excessive Exact match Internal Anchor Text
If your site is using multiple occurrences of the exact match anchor text from a WordPress plugin or similar then you are better off linking manually and varying your anchor text slightly. It also does not help when you have several instances of the same anchor text linking to the same or different pages on your site. Typically Google will only count the first anchor text link to that URL and linking to multiple pages using the same anchor will help confuse the engines as it will send mixed signals on which page to rank for the chosen keyword.
Link Filled Footers
If the footer of your website is filled with anchor text links to your internal pages then it’s probably time to rip them out. Not only does this look spammy it’s almost like saying to the engines you are ramming a load of SEO internal anchor text links to your content in the footer. A much better option would be to place the links in the content of your sites pages this will show the engines you care more about the content on those pages than simply placing them at the bottom of the page.
Excessive Pages Targeting Similar Ccontent
If you have pages targeting almost the same keywords that virtually mean the same thing then you should work on consolidating these pages. An example would be a page targeting “Mobile Phone Shop” and another page called “Cell Phone Shop” both meaning the same thing to the user but two pages have been created to capture search traffic on both phrases, probably with targeted anchor text pointing at them. My advice would be to 301 the similar pages and combine the content, not only will this help get you off Google’s radar it most likely increase rank & traffic.
Blocks of Keyword-Heavy Text
When writing keywords into your content don’t write out the page and then slap a paragraph at the top full of keywords you are targeting. Spread out your keywords and phrases throughout the page so it provides the user with quality content and does not look like spam that no one wants to read.
Focus on User Experience
Don’t write content specifically for search engines always make sure it’s going to benefit the user and does not look like a keyword spammy / manipulative site, the last thing a user wants to see is a bunch of text that hardly makes sense placed on your page in an effort to trick the engines into ranking you for those keywords.
When in doubt always read things over in your head or even out loud to a friend or work colleague. If you can’t read it without it sounding stupid, drop it.
Consultant at Lion SEO UK – If I am not doing SEO I can be found drinking Tea! Other interests are Linux, Programming & Blogging.