Last week, Matt Cutts, head of Web Spam at Google, was speaking at SXSW and he made the following statement:
"We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, try to make our relevance more adaptive, so that if people don't do SEO we handle that. And we are also looking at the people who abuse it, who put too many keywords on a page, exchange way too many links, or whatever else they are doing to go beyond what you normally expect. We have
several engineers on my team working on this right now."
In it, he makes clear that over-optimized websites will be clamped down upon by Google, so naturally you'll want to avoid doing this on your website. Over-optimization basically refers to doing implemeting standard SEO practices, but doing it to excess. As a result those not familiar with search engine optimisation
can innocently over-optimise, believing they are improving their site rankings. In this blog I'm going to cover a few tips that can ensure that your site does not become over-optimized.
1. Consider Click-Through-Rate in your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
When writing page titles and Meta descriptions for your webpages, it can be very tempting to load them with the keywords you are chasing. However, this approach is to be avoided as it is likely to be classed as over-optimisation by Google. Google has always said that webmasters should build their websites for human visitors,
not for the search engines. If your page titles and descriptions aren't valuable to humans, and are just loaded with keywords then Google may well interpret that as an attempt to gain higher rankings without offering value to visitors on your site. The best way to counter this is to think about how you can improve
click-through-rate by optimising titles and descriptions. By all means include keywords (they are very important in the title tag), but rather than having a title full of them, think about how you can use it to sell your business and encourage more users to come to your website. Think about unique selling points that separate you
from your competitors and in what areas you site offers additional value over your rivals. Use this to gain traffic rather than keyword stuffing to get rankings.
2. Build your site with navigation optimised for humans, not search engines
I mentioned this briefly in the last point, but it bears repeating; make your site for humans, not for search engine bots. This is highly important when you're considering how to structure the navigation on your webpage. Internal navigation should be focused on helping the user perform an action, or satisfy an intent – this
might be to buy something, or it might be to research some information – and rather than just have internal links with keyword anchor text, you should consider how to improve the users experience. Again, this might mean sacrificing the quantity of keyword mentions, but it will be worth it to improve user experience.
3. Forget keyword density
Optimal keyword density is a myth. Maybe 10-12 years ago when the search engines were in their infancy, the quantity of keywords would have had an impact on ranking, but now it is almost completely redundant as a ranking metric. Of course you'll want to include keywords in the content on your website, but rather than
focusing purely on inclusions there are several other factors that are much more important: • The relative distance between keywords in a document (proximity) • Where in a document the keywords occur (distribution) • The frequency between terms (occurrence) • The main theme, topics and sub-topic of the rest of the document
Spamming a keyword into your on-page content is obviously a bad idea as it is a move that is purely designed to boost relevancy (and therefore rankings) and not to improve user experience. You should make content based around offering quality and value to the user, not keyword inclusions, and by following this approach you are
likely to avoid any possible penalisations for over-optimisation. So, there you have it, my top three tips for avoiding over-optimisation. The most important takeaway point that I would like to leave with everyone is to remember to build your website for people, not Google. If you follow this approach, you really stand a much
better chance of achieving internet marketing success. Still, if you have any questions about search marketing, please feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to offer some advice.