This article is guest posted by David Nance.
Up until recently, most people would try to optimize their sites as much as possible to try and jockey their sites to the top of the search engines. While this may have worked for a while, it has recently been announced that Google may actually penalize you for “over-optimizing” your sites. In March of 2012, Matt Cutts, who works in the search quality group at Google, announced at South by Southwest that Google is trying to level the playing field somewhat by people who are over-doing SEO.
While this may be a frustrating announcement for many SEO companies or people who are well-versed in SEO, this was to be expected. Since the beginning, Google has always stated that they want to have the best search engine in the world. And because of this, they are constantly reworking their algorithms to only rank sites that have quality content associated with them. Now let’s take a further in-depth look at this over-optimization penalty and find out the best ways to avoid it.
What Type of Penalties Come Along With Over-Optimization?
Unfortunately, instead of simply dropping in the rankings like many sites did after the Panda update, if you are accused of over-optimization, your site will be de-indexed from Google entirely. In effect, this is the same as the popular Google “sandbox” where bots stop crawling your site and you are completely invisible to the search engine.
How Do You Know If You Have Over-Optimized Your Site?
There are plenty of factors that determine whether or not a site has been over-optimized but if you’ve done plenty of white hat linking or had your site ranked by a professional company, then you should be entirely fine. Google is using this penalty to go after those who have engaged in far too many black hat tactics.
Here are some of the strongest signs that would lead Google to de-index your site:
1. Domain name is the keyword you are ranking for: While this won’t automatically de-index your site, it looks entirely too spammy to Google
2. Duplicate Content: This is somewhat of an old SEO rule but Google hates seeing duplicate content on your site.
3. Too much keyword density: The general rule when utilizing keyword density is to never go over 2-3%. If you’re trying to rank for a keyword and are shoving the same one inside the title, description, meta tags, heading, and body tags, you are doing it completely wrong.
4. Too many backlinks using the same url: People used to get away with this dirty trick in the past but Google has quickly caught on. If you’re linking to the same main URL using the same keyword text, you are playing with fire. In order to look great to Google, trying building natural and organic backlinks with unique variations of anchor text
5. Non-Creative Content: This relates back to the duplicate content rule in that you should never ever do it. So many new website creators make the silly mistake of copying all of their information from Wikipedia and slapping that into an article. Google’s bots can see that this information has been copied and won’t give your site a higher ranking because of this.
What do I do if I am Penalized?
If your site has been penalized and you have lost all traffic, the first thing to do is to try and see if you’ve committed any of the mistakes listed above. Keep in mind that the ones listed are only some of the most important factors but there are hundreds of different factors that Google will look at.
If you believe that your site has been wrongly penalized or if you have seen the mistakes you have made and have fixed them, you can submit a request to Google for them to reconsider adding your site back to their search engine.
Is SEO Dead Now?
For those marketers that are ready to hide in a corner and cry, SEO is nowhere near being dead. Google’s updates are simply created to weed out the sites that provide no valuable content and those that were ranked using black hat tactics. By providing great quality content and following proper SEO practices with your site, your site should be entirely fine and you may possibly see a jump in the rankings for your site as the bad sites become de-indexed!
This article was written by David Nance for the team at 522 Productions, who are committed to helping your business shine through the use of Internet and social media.