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Episode 041: The One About Google’s Penalties for Over-Optimizing Your Website

Google’s Penalties for Over-Optimizing Your Website

Hey, good afternoon, today is Saturday March 9th and I wanted to talk today, we’ve been seeing a lot of docs that have been hit with an over-optimization penalty from Google. Believe it or not in the middle of last year Google started rolling out an over-optimization penalty for sites that are too optimized. Maybe they’re not actually using a black hat tactic which is kind of a frowned upon gray area of search engine optimization, maybe they’re not doing completely white hat tactics which are above board ethical type marketing methods, but maybe they are trying a little too hard and over-optimizing their website. In April / May / June of last year Google started rolling out an over-optimization penalty and I wanted to talk a little bit about what you can do to make sure that your site isn’t being hit with this penalty.

The one big thing is make sure that your titles are authentic. Keyword stuffing which goes way back to the nineties has been used over and over and over and of course Google has really cut down on the amount of keyword stuffing you can do. If you’re keyword stuffing on your page too much they’re going to catch you and they’re going to blacklist you. A lot of people use a measure of keyword stuffing in their titles and descriptions throughout their webpages and if they don’t sound real, Google is going to catch you now. It needs to sound like a human being wrote them, not just stuffing keywords in there because you think that’s what Google wants to see. Make them sound authentic; if it doesn’t sound right to you Google’s going to catch onto it too. They’re doing a lot of manual actions now where there’s actual people, real people, going out and browsing websites and ranking or de-ranking them and verifying that sites are authentic and legitimate.

The second thing we see a lot of with dental websites is manipulative internal linking structures inside of content where people might have a word repeated throughout their website, Chicago dentist, Chicago dentist, Chicago dentist, and they’re using these internal words and linking them with that same anchor text to the same page over and over and over again from internal within their site. Google is now catching on to this, it looks spammy, it feels spammy, it’s manipulative, if that is something that you’re doing on your site and your rankings are coming down then that’s something you need to be taking a look at because Google’s coming for you.

Go for logical type linking structures. If it’s in normal conversational tone that you have some content and you see a couple of words in there link to a page here or to a page there, but don’t repeat the same word such as cosmetic dentist Chicago seventy five times on your website and create links to your cosmetic dentistry page and expect that to work anymore. It’s something that Google’s actually begun, for the past six months, penalizing you for.

Number three, stuffing a lot of links in your footer. You need to have some links in your footer for user experience, people get to the bottom of your page and they need to have some navigation avenues that they can go other places with. But if you have 10,000 links in your footer or if you have 50 links in your footer, that’s just a bunch of junk. Don’t be the dentist that does that and thinks you’re going to spam Google anymore. If it doesn’t look authentic, if it doesn’t feel authentic, if their new over-optimization algorithm doesn’t catch you then their manual spam checkers will. They have literally hired thousands of people to browse websites and look at guys who are doing gray hat type marginal, spammy type search engine manipulative tactics that they don’t want on their search engines.

Guys that are putting out great content and have great websites with video; those are the kind of websites that Google wants to see. They are going to be separating the herd from the guys that are doing it, to the guys that just want you to think that they’re doing it and they’re being manipulative.

Text, content blocks, where there’s a big text of keywords. Believe it or not the old keyword stuffing from back in the nineties, you still see some guys doing that. They have just really whittled away year over year over year to get rid of that but we still see some guys doing it. I think this over-optimization penalty is really going to be the final stake in the coffin for guys that just use flat-out keyword stuffing in their content.

The fifth one, which we’ve been talking about for years but Google hasn’t had the technology to really enforce it, is backlinks from irrelevant or penalty-likely sources. If you are a dentist, there’s no reason that some place over in India or China or the Philippines or a website about selling chainsaws or baby formula should be linking to yours, absolutely no reason. If you have 5,000 backlinks built into your website and they’re all from these irrelevant spam websites and blogs, blog commenting is a big spam tactic that a lot of SEO companies use, where they just go around to blogs on the internet and spam the comments with your link. If this is you, you’re going to be penalized. If you have backlinks coming from a penalty likely website like these big article websites and blog websites, and the websites that only exist out there to be spammy and build these fake backlinks that all these marginal SEO companies use. If this is you they’re going to start applying a penalty to your website.

Take a look in your Google Webmaster Tools; you can see all the sites that have backlinks coming to yours, you can see if you’ve got some stuff coming in that’s penalty likely, I’d go ahead and flush it out. Don’t wait until it’s too late because if they penalize you the chances of you ever recovering from that are slim to none, in fact we’ve had some dentists here recently, two in particular that their website was so heavily penalized it made more sense both time wise and financial wise to simply dump their website and their domain completely, start a new website with a new domain and start from scratch with SEO. They had these old, they both had old websites they’d done SEO on for years, they had great rankings for years, but they were so heavily penalized from the changes Google made in 2011 and 2012 that it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to recover their site and their domain from what was happening.

Keep an eye on things. This isn’t a fear podcast, you know run out and do something right now or the hand of Google is going to come down and striketh on you, pay attention to what’s going on. This isn’t another new thing to jump onto, this isn’t some radical change that Google has made, it’s a logical progression of what Google deems is best for the people searching. If you really sit down and think about it, what’s good for Google and Google’s customers, I think you’ll agree that the changes and the direction that Google’s going in are good for the people searching. They might not be good for you as a dentist if you’re using some of these spammy tactics, but it depends which side of the fence you’re on.

Take a look at your website and just pay attention to what’s going on. Know where your backlinks are coming from, know what kind of company you’ve hired to do SEO for you, pay attention to the content on your website, make sure it’s unique, make sure it’s not spammy. You can read through it and tell this very easily; if it sounds spammy, if it sounds like you’re trying to convince somebody that you’re the best cosmetic dentist in Chicago Google’s going to think you’re trying to convince somebody too.

That’s all for Saturday, keep moving forward.

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