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The Google SEO Penalty

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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is something that most bloggers and webmasters are concerned with. If you want to do well in the search engine results pages then SEO has to be a part of your strategy. It starts off simple where you optimize your title tags, canonical tags, URLs, and you fix any errors that might hinder Google’s ability to crawl the site. This alone will get you results, but rarely do we stop here. Up to now it has been speculated that there is an over-optimization penalty incurred in Google if you take SEO too far. Some SEO professionals swear by this, and others simply suggest that it is a possibility. Now however Google has announced that they will penalize sites that over optimize via SEO techniques. This will create a new set of problems for bloggers and webmasters.  Here are two things to avoid when SEOing a site that will help avoid the penalty altogether.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the unnecessary and repetitive use of keywords in various places throughout a document in order to convince search engines a site is about a specific topic.  This is an old game and has been in use since SEO existed. There are many different places keywords can be stuffed and they are:

  • Images
  • Links
  • Body
  • Meta-tags
  • Title tags
  • URL

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When used in combination, Google pays careful attention to the URL, title tag, and inbound links. When these three elements are lined up in an over optimized fashion webmasters often see a decrease in traffic and ranking now.  After the new penalty is launched this decrease should be more severe. As far as what percentages one is to look for it is very difficult to say, and probably differs between keywords and sites. SEO experts have speculated that if an inordinate amount of inbound anchor text matches your URL and title, from 50% to 80% has been cited, then you may be over optimized and in danger of a Google penalty. It is very difficult to reach percentages like this without very aggressively going after keywords. No one is going to accidentally receive this penalty.

Unnatural Link Profile

Your link profile is what your inbound links look like on a global scale. Many different keywords, URLs, images, and so forth show a very organic link profile. An artificially manipulated link profile would look very different, in that it would have specific keywords in large percentages and very few non-keyword rich anchor text links. Google has recently taken a great interest in low quality links, and what they referto as administrative links. Administrative links relate to each other in some way. More often than not they’re owned by single company and all interlink with each other with key phrases.This type of link network is frowned on by Google and is certainly related to the over optimization penalty that is coming soon. This doesn’t mean that companies that own more than one site can’t link them too each other, what it means is if you overdo it it’s going to hurt you. Use the links as necessary and perhaps don’t use keyword rich anchor text. This will help to keep your link profile appearing organic and it may also increase the navigational abilities of your sites.

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That’s what you shouldn’t do.Now let’s talk about what you should do. Instead of over optimizing old content trying to get it to rank for various keywords new content may be the answer. This doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your old content first for Google, but it does mean that the more time you spend on old content the more you will incur diminishing returns. Those first few changes that you make will give you a great deal of SEO value but the more you tool around the same content the less you going to get out of it. The best way to get a bigger bang for your buck so to speak is to create new content. Appropriately optimize this new content without going overboard and you will get new readers, new traffic, and hopefully increase your revenue if that is your goal.

The upcoming over optimization penalty from Google is no joke. If it is anywhere near as effective as the Panda update then it is going to affect a great many sites. Ask any webmaster or blogger affected by panda how they got out of it and more likely than not theanswer is they didn’t. A vast number of webmasters across the Internet are simply dropping their old sites that were penalized by Panda, and creating new ones because they simply can’t get out of it. This over optimization penalty could be that severe, but obviously there is no way to be certain. As with the Panda update it is far better to avoid the penalty then to figure a way to get out of it. As always quality content, unique information, organic links, and solid marketing are not only the best way to avoid penalties but to make your readers happy.

Jon T Norwood manages Internet Service, a site with that assists its users in finding the best ISP available to them.

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2 Responses

  1. Sheri says:

    Is it a good idea to name images with keywords? How about keywords in your description or alt tags for outbound links? Would those two practices be considered keyword stuffing?

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