Is your website over optimized? Watch out! Last month at SXSW in Austin, a Google representative mentioned that the company is planning to start penalizing websites that engage in over-optimization. In the last week, there’s been a lot of chatter on Twitter and in the blogosphere that these penalties may be rolling out soon – or may already be in place for some websites. Sites that are penalized suffer a hit in search rankings, or may temporarily lose visibility. Will your site get hit?
Four Must-Do Changes to Prevent Google’s Over Optimization Penalty
1. Do your titles make sense? Blog titles should always be keyword optimized – but they should also sound like an actual human being wrote them. Rather than cramming in awkward SEO phrases, titles need to follow proper English grammar and be actual sentences. For example, if we titled our homepage content “Premium WordPress Theme Design and Create Your Own WordPress Theme” we’d be in big trouble. That title is clearly stuffed with keyword phrases and sounds downright awkward. A better version would be “Impress Themes: Custom WordPress Theme Design”. Your click-thru rates will also go up since customers will perceive your content as legitimate, rather than spammy.
2. Do you have manipulative internal links? Internal links create a coherent website hierarchy. They help web crawlers understand your site’s content while pointing visitors to relevant pages. However, internal links should make logical sense. If you’ve got a page about web design and link it to a page on social media, there should be a contextual reason for this link. If you’ve just tossed in the social media link in an effort to boost page views without any context, this is completely ineffective – and you’ll suffer the penalties. What’s even worse is linking to the same page multiple times within your content without any reason for doing so. That’s like screaming to Google, “Hey, look at me! I’m trying to manipulate my search engine results!” And that’s never a good idea.
3. Are your footers filled with anchor text links? Footers are a great place for including links to your blog, products, services, contact and about us info. However, some so-called “SEO experts” go overboard and add links solely for the sake of SEO anchor text. This is always a bad idea. If your site has long lists of random keyword anchor text in the footer (usually in a gray on gray color), it’s obvious to Google that this text is there simply for SEO purposes. Get ready for a penalty! If you need to incorporate anchor text, do so naturally into your content.
4. Are you part of a spammy link network? Private link networks, also known as link farms, are a waste of money and the fastest way to get your site penalized. Save your time, energy, and cash and stay away from these spammy networks! Need help with authentic link building? Check out Impress Themes’ guide to smart SEO link building for WordPress blogs.