Over optimization has been the buzz of the online marketing world recently along with the blog networks de-indexation. I always said that blog networks should be taken with a dose of aspirin, hope some of you listened. Well, what’s done is done there, just need to cut off your ties and get busy with some real link building and content marketing. On the other hand you can still avoid over optimization penalty and in the process improve your website. If you followed the top SEO advice you probably have nothing to worry about, but in case you didn’t here are your top priorities to sort out as soon as possible.
It’s still shady what Google may have in store for the Over Optimization penalty, not likely they will outright tell us, but here is a list of things I would personally pay attention to, onsite primarily and then offsite.
Keyword stuffing! Damn this is an old one, but incredibly active even still. Mostly newbies who don’t know good resources to learn from or old school players who can’t get it to their thick skulls and still pollute the internet with this poison. No need to go near this, just make sure your titles have well placed keywords, make use of your H tags and write great content around a certain topic, Google will pick up on the rest.
Using Keyword instead of “home” in your navigation! Damn is this an overkill. I don’t see it as much as I used to but hey, it’s still out there. You can link to your homepage from the body content, other sites etc… using any keyword you want, but placing it in your navigation is pushing it too far.
Similarly, using too many keywords in your navigation can have the same effect.
Way too long keyword domain names. Something like www.buynokiac20smartphone.com, I can think of even worse domains than that one, but hey, if you can’t place a keyword in the domain name it’s not the end of the world. The most popular blogs and sites have branded domains, and not keyword ones, so go do the math!
Dumb inner linking with mass repetition. Why in the hell would you need 78 links from 100 pages talking about various stuff linking to one page with the same keyword? Yeah, auto pilot plugins and all that, I know. But it would be much better to link to that page from only related content using varied anchors. Misusing one anchor text is one of the easiest ways to get noticed. If you do this on your website I would hate to see what your backlink profile looks like. (probably 97% exact match anchors)
Less Obvious Don’ts
Alt tags. Yeah, Alt tags can be misused. I love using alt tags and anyone skipping them along with image titles is crazy, but overloading them with keyword strings in both alts and image titles will raise a flag. The content should speak for itself; the image alt is just there to make sure Google is on the right track.
Titles, headers and bold text. This is an obvious one not to be misused, but since we all tend to optimize these parts it’s hard to distinguish between good optimization and over optimization sometimes.
In my opinion page titles and content titles should have the main keyword and something resembling a sentence, and not a string of keywords, example of a good page title: Online Consulting Brisbane, Catering to Your Success | Company Name
The same goes for headers, in some cases the main keyword is the logical choice, but think about what Google wants, they want the header to reflect on the content and the offer provided on the page, so it has to be related. If you have an H1 “Plumbing Services Morocco” you should probably make that page around that topic and not about selling pipes in Egypt.
Bold text, simple, highlight only subheadings and important parts of the text. No need to bold your keywords if there is no need for that, as it seems in the near future that may be a Google flag, so be cautious.
Footer Misuse. Oh yeah, this is a big one, an old one at that, but people think that below the fold doesn’t matter as much, so why not exchange a few dozen links and place 2,3, 18 banners there! Well, your footer should be great looking and simple, because from the designer point of view, and Google agrees, footer should help people find more resources and information once they have scrolled down to the end. If they didn’t find what they were looking for or they did but got here anyway, they should have a few more useful links to help keep them on your pages and not 55 links leading to non-related websites and topics.
Similar or duplicate content! Well, this has never been helpful, after Panda it should be obvious to anyone what you should do with duplicate content and thin pages. Some people want to squeeze every single keyword variation on their website and use it as a title, which leads to crappy and over repeating content, well, don’t, this was here before Over Optimization issue was raised, so you should know better than to play with fire, I mean Google.
Overusing Exact Anchors! Exact match, exact match, exact match…my reaction…No, no, no, why in the hell would you do that!? It is much more beneficial for your website to have an array of anchor variants in your link profile, you will rank for a number of them and they will add relevance to your main keyword. Using one and the same anchor text will just get you penalized, an obvious error.
Mass link building. I tend to use weekends to catch up on reading and sometimes I tend to post up to 50 comments per weekend, but looking at my history that is natural and 50 is not much, especially since these are 10-15 websites I monitor regularly. But using comment spam software, article spinners and submitters, blog networks and alike to create hundreds or thousands of links per week is not natural and Google was on it for a while now, it’s more likely they will pay even more attention to link building velocity and patterns from now on.
Mass link exchanges. Also an oldie, but whenever I get on a few internet marketing forums I see dozens of threads daily requesting mass link exchanges. If you are that lazy to find some nice links, then at least try to exchange guest posts on those forums instead of links from “links” pages and alike.
Linking from duplicate or similar content. Just like inner linking from thin pages, having links from 30 spun articles will get you in deep S^&%! Linking from duplicate content and 20 other articles that are too similar can also do the trick with over optimization.