The latest news in the world of Google is yet another new algorithm for bloggers to freak out about—the over-optimization penalty. For those who are unfamiliar, Google’s SEO engineer Matt Cutts made an announcement last week that companies and bloggers will now be penalized for over-optimizing their website. Naturally, this has left many heads spinning. Many companies have put a great deal of time, effort, and money into optimizing pages in order to rank highly on a SERP, and suddenly this new announcement seems to devalue all of this work. The worst thing about this algorithm change is that bloggers and webmasters have not been given a clear answer as to what “over-optimization” actually entails.
For this reason, many SEO experts are left speculating. Although it could be quite some time before bloggers understand just what constitutes as over-optimization in the eyes of Google, it’s still important to try and keep your site from being over-optimized. This can be done by looking at what some experts are assuming as well as why the algorithm change was created in the first place.
What Constitutes as Over-Optimization According to Google?
Although Cutts never comes out and gives a clear answer, he does explain why this penalty is an important one. This penalty is supposed to “level the playing ground” when it comes to sites that put a heavy focus on SEO and sites that are smaller and maybe just creating great content. Google wants great content at the top of their SERPs, not just content that is optimized for SEO. Cutts said that Google “start[s] to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on a page or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they’re doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect.”
This leads many to believe that Google is not completely against a website optimizing a page for SEO, but too many keywords are going to become more of an issue for the GoogleBots. Although penalties for things such as doorway pages or other black hat SEO tactics were already in place, the new announcement leads many to believe that this is going to be a bigger issue for Google in the very near future.
So what can you do to prepare for this new over-optimization penalty? Consider some of the ways you can make sure your page is not over-optimized and how to make sure it stays that way:
How to Make Sure Your Pages are Not Guilty of Over-Optimization
The best thing you can do to make sure your pages are not over-optimized is read your content. If it sounds like it’s written for a robot, you’re sure to get flagged with this new penalty. In situations where your content sounds strange or sounds like it was written for SEO only, it’s very easy to tell that you need to make a change. However, if you cannot tell whether or not your page is too optimized, consider some of the following tips:
- Your keyword density should be between 3 and 5 percent.
A keyword density deals with how many times the keywords you are trying to target show up in your content. If you have an article with a keyword density of 10 or 20 percent, Google is likely going to pick up on that and penalize you.
- Don’t have too many advertisements above the fold.
Although this was never a good idea in the first place, it’s likely going to be more of an issue now that the new penalty has been brought to surface. You want to make sure that the majority of your valuable content is above the fold and your advertisements are toward the bottom.
- Generic domain names are not the best idea.
Oddly enough, Google isn’t a fan of generic domain names. If you have a domain name that is related to a business brand name, you could get penalized. Many people choose their domain names based upon keywords, but this is likely going to be a target for the new Google algorithm.
- Guest blogging is likely the best way to get backlinks.
Guest blogging ensures that you are getting a backlink from a quality source as opposed to certain directories and other sites that allow you to buy a backlink. Google will not see this as over-optimization because you are offering valuable content to readers.
The best thing that you can do for your site is create as much valuable, original content as possible. Although it may take a while to see results, this will ultimately pay off in the end.
Photo Credit: AZblogtips.com
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to merchant services. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including payroll processing services to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading lead generation website, Resource Nation.
Author: Amanda DiSilvestro
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO Company HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.