The recent Google Penguin update served as a harsh reminder that we are at the mercy of Google. Many businesses rely on their website to help generate leads and sales. If the website pretty much disappears from search results, business (and income) disappear along with it. This is why it’s necessary to “play nice” with Google and the other search engines. If they consider something to be a spammy, black hat tactic — simply don’t do it. The issue that arises though, is that practices that were once accepted (or at least not publicly criticized by the search engines) are no longer effective and can now lead to harsh penalties. With the recent update, Google is attempting to rank websites based on usability and content for human visitors, not for how well it was “SEO’d.” It’s important to learn from each update and make the necessary changes to your strategy. The following tactics are no longer valid and will get your site penalized for over-optimization:
1. Purchasing a Keyword Rich Domain Name
Keywords are still important, but they should be used naturally. The URL of your website should be an identifiable brand, not a string of keywords. Keyword rich domains were hit by the update because they are no longer considered for ranking purposes. It’s the content on the page that matters.
2. Adding Keyword Rich Microsites
Many microsites don’t serve a real purpose. They are created for the sole purpose of ranking for specific keywords. Typically, they have a keyword rich domain name and very thin content. A better investment is to add a page of good content to your main website. If your site is trusted, it will rank better than a low quality microsite anyway.
3. Writing for the Search Engines
The primary target audience for your content should always be humans, not the search engine spiders. Write for the people that may actually buy your products or services. Keywords are still important, but they need to be incorporated into the content naturally. The search engines aren’t going to rank a page because you put the keyword in there 10 times. In fact, they will consider this to be spam and in the process you will also turn off your visitors.
4. Non-Varied Anchor Text Linking
Anchor text linking only works to a certain extent. The key is that it needs to be natural. Think about how an outsider would link to your site. They would probably use the brand name or even “click here”. They wouldn’t link to your big keyword over and over again. It’s OK to use keyword anchor text, but only if you keep it diverse. Link to different variations of the keyword and do it infrequently. There’s no need to include 5 anchor text links in a 300 word article.