Overdoing SEO; are you doing it?
by Dave Cottrell
Overdoing SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, isn’t really possible, is it? If a little is good, isn’t a lot really good?
SEO is a major factor in getting good, targeted, converting traffic to your websites. You can probably learn enough about basic SEO to get you started in less than a day using the search engines to study it out.
You need good, unique content related to your niche.
- Your title tags, alt text, and even the first line of your first paragraph should be unique and contain your keyword(s).
- Your keyword(s) should appear a number of times in your articles.
- Your permalinks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permalink ) should also contain your keywords, not some nonsensical code.
- Your website should not be too complex, and every page should be able to take you back to where you came from. Use as few folders as you can get away with. All you really need to add to your basic website file setup, even if you don’t have a WordPress site, is an image file, maybe a video file, and a download file.
Here is how WordPress counts SEO score for a typical, 750 word article:
- The keyword density is 0.41%, which is a bit low, the keyword was found 4 times. (a general rule of thumb is one incidence of your keyword per one hundred words, maximum. More on this later…)
- The images on this page have alt tags containing your keyword / phrase – this is good.
- The copy scores 66.2 in the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is considered OK to read. (Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Make it really easy to read.)
- The keyword / phrase appears in the URL for this page. (See number 3, above)
- Keyword / keyphrase appears in 2 (out of 2) subheadings in the copy. While not a major ranking factor, this is beneficial.
- The keyword appears in the first paragraph of the copy.
- This page has 14 outbound link(s). (Outbound links will often attract the owners of the links, and if they like your article(s), they may link to you, a valuable backlink)
- You’ve never used this focus keyword before, very good. (Try to be unique)
- The page title contains keyword / phrase, at the beginning which is considered to improve rankings.
- In the specified meta description, consider: How does it compare to the competition? Could it be made more appealing? (Take your time on this one!)
- The meta description contains the primary keyword / phrase.
- There are 750 words contained in the body copy, this is more than the 300 word recommended minimum.
- The page title is more than 40 characters and less than the recommended 70 character limit.
This isn’t complicated, and if you stick fairly closely to these rules, post regularly and consistently, you will start to get some good traffic from the search engines.
So, back to overdoing SEO… If SEO is good, how can you do too much of a good thing? Here are some common mistakes. If you take another look at the WordPress score sheet, above, you will notice some of these. (WordPress is quite good at SEO.)
- Keyword spamming. This is where you repeat your keyword(s) over and over again in the body of your article in an attempt to increase keyword density. The truth is, you are better to score lower than higher on this one. Your keyword(s) need(s) to be in your article body, but do not sacrifice quality or use artificial or forced phrases for the sake of getting your keyword(s) in there more often. Never go above once per one hundred. This could get you penalized for keyword spam, especially on Google.
- Don’t use bold or italic typeface, not even for the keywords, unless absolutely necessary to get your point across, other than in the title. Some would say not to use it too much. (Studies have shown that copy written in italics often gets ignored as being less important than the plain text.)
- Don’t create a bunch of footer links with optimized and unnatural anchor texts connected to internal links. A good article on using anchor text anywhere, whether on your own site, on sites you visit and comment on, in press releases, or perhaps even as a guest blogger, is “4 Experts Weigh In After Google Calls Foul on ‘Optimized Anchor Text’ in Press Releases” http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/2013/08/press-release-seo-link-value/
- Take the time to get good, high quality backlinks, rather than from webdirectories and other places that allow you to place links without the “nofollow” tag. (you can use these, but make sure they are relevant – ie, in your niche – and use them sparingly.)
- Be careful when you go looking for backlinks not to get too many with the same anchor text. In other words, if you’re selling a book, don’t use “Buy My Book” exclusively for your anchor text. Change it up, often, to make it unique.
- Avoid exchanging links with low quality, unrelated websites. Spend more time for fewer, high quality links in your own niche. This is far superior to hundreds of poor quality links, and definitely won’t get you accused of overdoing SEO.
You will find so-called experts all over the internet promoting doing all these things, but the real experts, the ones who are industry recognized and who have real proof of their success, do not do this kind of thing.
These “gurus” prey on people starting out or people who have been at it a while, but haven’t yet had any success. Their tactics of overdoing SEO will often bring in some (sometimes) stunning results, but that will only work until Google catches on, which they will.
Google’s software is so good, and continues to get better, that their robots will now detect and flag any site that it “thinks” is overdoing SEO. Then, when a real human being from Google checks your site and determines that the robot got it right, SLAP! Your great organic traffic dries up completely, and now you have to not only do your search engine optimization properly; you have to dig yourself out of the basement just to get back on level ground!
Other search engines may be a bit more lenient, but Google is by far the biggest source of traffic on the internet, at more than 67% as of August, 2013. You do not want to lose your hard earned rankings and traffic from them!