I wanted to discuss something that many people don’t understand/know about when it comes to SEO.
If you know anything about Google, Bing, Yahoo; you know that in order to rank highly for your desired keywords, you have to optimize your site using on-page (content/keywords/meta tags/titles/internal links etc.) as well as off-page (Link building/social media/citations/mentions/brand development etc), but what many fail to do/realize is that doing your own SEO can lead you to the Google doghouse.
So, is there such thing as over optimized? Can your page be too perfect? Can you build too many links? The answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes.
Anytime you’re actively pursuing rankings, you have the ability to affect your rankings both positively and negatively based on everything you do.
What worked once may not work anymore. A page that ranked before may have dropped due to a new algorithm change, filter, or even penalty. Tracking and knowing what you’re doing is key to ensure you’re on the right track.
If your site seems to be stuck or pages that rank for your keywords aren’t pages that you want to rank, you may be suffering from over-optimization blues. Here are some general guidelines I like to follow when doing SEO for my clients that can help you:
On Page SEO
Keyword Density – To me, keyword density is basically a useless/old way of doing SEO. It’s a dated practice. Yes, it’s still extremely important to have your keywords in your content, titles, meta description, etc. but worrying about keyword density is unnecessary.
When you’re reading a blog, are you worrying about how many keywords the blog has in it? When you go to a page to look for listings, are you worried about how many keywords are in the listings content?
Doesn’t that sound a little ridiculous? Google does too. Google wants relevance, quality, and a good user experience. Make your content relevant and do the best you can to make it useful for a user. Keywords should be naturally placed in your content, not forced.
On Page SEO That Works
I use this checklist (in my head) when creating a web page:
Keyword in title tag? Check.
Keyword in meta description? Check.
Is the meta description useful? Check.
Keyword in first paragraph? Check.
Keyword mixed into the H1,H2,H3 tags? Check.
Keyword naturally spread throughout the document? Check.
Sprinkled in related keywords? Check.
Mixed keyword usage? Check.
Keyword at the end of the page? Check.
Internal link to related page? Check.
At least one photo with keyword ALT tag? Check.
Related Video? Possibly.
Does it seem natural or does it seem forced? Check.
What do you mean does it seem natural?
Is it written like the New York Times? Or is it written like a keyword spammer? If your document reads more like the New York Times than a keyword spammer, your on the right track. If it reads like an SEO document that a keyword spammer wrote, re-do it.
If you’ve ever searched and came upon a Google page you may notice that almost every page has a video on it, it’s easy to read with bullet points, has more links to related/useful information, and it’s extremely useful information. They usually only use the keyword in a title tag and in the title of the page. Does your page look like a Google employee wrote it?
Off Page SEO
Building Backlinks – Building links is probably one of the top 3 reasons you’re on AR if not the top. But where else are you building links? And are you using the same anchor text every time you link to your site?
Over optimizing your anchor text and building links from the same websites is over optimization and can be considered spam.
Anytime you place a link to your site or a website/blog you control in order to manipulate search engine rankings (according to Google), you’re spamming. Yep, you are.
Does Google really care? Most likely not as everyone does it, but there is a point where you can go to far. There’s also a point of diminishing returns.
Having the same link anchor text all the time is a clear sign that you’re doing something unnatural, and linking from the same site 10′s, 100′s or even 1000′s of times doesn’t look natural either.
So how do you combat this to get your site where you want it? What does a natural link profile look like? Is there such a thing? Who knows, but you can sure try to mimic what a natural link profile would look like and here’s how.
Building Social Mentions – Are you socially active? Do you actively engage others to share/tweet/like/+1 your content after you post it? If not, you should. Social media is a great way to not only show your site is engaging to search engines, but it also provides social proof to your visitors. If you go to a page and see that the page has been shared on Facebook a few hundred times, are you more likely to share it too? If you need social, why not ask your friends/office staff/blog buddies to share your information? Is it not good enough to share? If not, you need make it better!
Off Page SEO That Works
Building Relationships – Do you have friends? I do, I do! Friends can be a great place to build an SEO relationship if they have a website.
How many people do you interact with on a monthly basis that also have a website? Inspectors, title companies, lenders, friends on AR, social media etc. are all great places to ask for a link in a natural way.
Ask them to add you to their resource pages, talk about you in a blog post, or even write a blog post for them. This is called guest blogging and it’s a great way to get a link back to your site that’s white hat and Google approved.
Diversify, Diversify, Diversify - A diversified link profile will have many different variations in keywords, many different websites on different IP addresses, and social mentions from all sorts of social media outlets.
Now, not everyone can have the perfect link profile, and as an SEO it’s my job to build these links in order to improve my clients visibility in search, but there are two ways to do it. You can try to mimic a natural link profile or you can spam your way to the top. One will last, the other will lead to your eventual downfall. I prefer the former.
Guest Blogging – If you’re on AR, you have a massive amount of potential to gain links through guest blogging. Imagine if you had a friend that you could have write a guest blog once or twice a month on your site in order to keep your content updated frequently. Wouldn’t that be great? It is, and it’s a great way for you to also build links.
Guest blogging is a great way to get your sites link profile diversified and gain links from highly relevant websites. Write a guest post and add link back to your site in an author profile. Easy peasey. In fact, if you’re looking for guest blogging opportunities, I have many clients that engage in the practice and can point you in the right direction, just send me an email.
Fantastic/Unique/Passionate Content - Writing great content or link-bait is a great way to get natural links that you would otherwise not get. I think one of the best in the industry at doing this is Jay Thompson of http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/. He’s authentic and has a massive following. He works his butt off to engage people and you know that what you see is what you get. He writes with passion and has very strong opinions.
I don’t know Jay personally, but I subscribed to his blog the first time I read it. Writing great content and sticking out from the crowd is extremely hard, but it can have a great effect on building natural links/mentions that you couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Can you be the next Jay Thompson? You bet! Start building relationships and you’ll be well on your way.
SEO today is not the same as it was a year ago. It changes all the time but one thing will always remain the same. Write great content, don’t focus on keywords and make sure that your content/website is useful for a user. No one likes a spammer, including Google.