MCLELLAN: The end of 'over-optimization'
Friday, March 30, 2012 7:00 AM
Everyone is chasing the holy grail of being on page one of Google searches. Nothing wrong with that belief; in today’s world, it matters. But so does HOW you chase that search ranking. Many “experts” will tout loading up your site with keyword repetition and link exchanges, rather than just creating good content that is valuable to your visitors. But Google is finally calling foul on that.
Google has just announced an upcoming algorithm update, which is designed to penalize overly optimized websites.
Google executive Matt Cutts explained: “The changes are our attempt to make the algorithm more adaptive and more understanding of sites that have good content even if it isn’t search engine optimized like many marketers have learned to do. The sites that will be penalized are those that throw too many keywords on the page, exchange way too many links, whatever they’re doing to go beyond what a normal person would expect.”
When asked how sites could avoid being penalized by this new algorithm update, Cutts said: “Make a compelling site. Make a site that’s useful. Make a site that’s interesting. Make a site that’s relevant to people’s interests. We’re always trying to best approximate, if a user lands on a page, if they are going to be annoyed. All of the changes we make are designed to approximate, if a user lands on your page, just how happy they are going to be with what they’re going to get.”
So, what qualifies as over-optimization? As usual, Google isn’t giving us the recipe, but Cutts did say that the company is targeting sites where people throw too many keywords on the page or exchange too many links. It’s widely believed that keyword stuffing and link exchanges are already spam signals in Google’s algorithm, so clearly Google intends to raise the amount of penalty or dampening that those spam signals merit, and they’re probably adding some new over-optimization factors too.
How do you build a website that Google’s algorithm will like and rank well?
Create content for the readers, not the search engines: If you’re writing Web content based on a keyword list or you have a rule for how many keywords need to go into each post or paragraph, you’re in trouble.
Write for your customers, prospects and Web readers, talking about the topics that matter to them. When you are creating your editorial calendar, use questions such as:
• What questions am I frequently asked?
• What are the common misperceptions about (blank)?
• If I were teaching an introductory course on my area of expertise, what would I include?
The answers to these types of questions will guide you to creating relevant, Google-friendly and reader-friendly content.
Add a blog: If you really want to get Google’s attention, add a blog to your static website. Remember, Google not only loves relevant content, it loves fresh content. If you’re updating your blog regularly (even once a week), that can really spike your search results.
Give your readers a voice: Want to be sure you’re writing about what matters to your audience? Let them participate! Open up the comments portion of your blog, invite them to post questions that you’ll answer on the fly, or ask them to suggest topics for future content.
Bottom line: Write for the right reasons and the right audience, and you have nothing to worry about. Try to game Google with keyword stuffing or heavy link exchanges, and they’ll make you pay the price.
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