The SEO world has been abuzz the past few weeks over Google’s latest
algorithm update which they have code named “Penguin”. It is important
to note that other some other Google updates, this is not a penalty,
but rather a modification to their algorithm. If your site dropped
recently it wasn’t hit with a manual penalty, you just need to fix
whatever it is on your site that the new algorithm doesn’t like.
Google has been rather vague as usual about what the new algorithm
doesn’t like. They use generic terms like “over optimization” and show
examples which are beyond blatant like sites with literally hundreds
of keywords stuffed into the meta tags.
The best way to find out what types of sites are having problems is
ironically to monitor Google’s own forums to see which website owners
are complaining. Owners often post their sites and how bad of a
ranking drop they’ve experienced. By looking at enough of these posts,
you can get a good feel for what’s being targeted.
Even if your site hasn’t suffered a drop in the rankings it’s probably
a good time to do a small audit of your SEO practices to make sure
that you’re not performing methods that were considered legitimate a
year or two ago but have now drawn the wrath of Google.
One other important thing to note is that like other Google updates,
this is no doubt a work in progress. If you read SEO forums you’ve no
doubt seen examples people have posted of sites with virtually no
worthwhile content which have suddenly leapt into the top ten rankings
of valuable terms due to several of the old top ten inhabitants having
their rankings plummet due to the new algorithm. I have no doubt that
these rankings will be short lived and the cream will generally rise
back to the top. Google’s SEO motto has always been “if you have a
site with great content that people love, things are changing in your
favor”. That remains as true now as it ever has, as long as you don’t
do anything to piss Google off.
Target 1: Over Optimization
The term “over optimization” is scary. I’ve got a WordPress plugin designed to help my optimize my posts or pages if I’m trying to target a specific term. How the heck am I supposed to know when my optimizing crosses the line into over optimizing?
My plan to keep On Google’s good side is as follows:
Limit each post/page to 2 meta keywords
I know it’s tempting to go for 6-7 but it’s probably not worth it. It’s a field that you don’t want to leave blank but pick your best two terms and let the others go.
All but ignore keyword density
I’ve never been a big fan of the “you need 4% of your posts to be keywords” crowd but now it’s more than a matter of choice. If you write quality content and afterwards realized you only used your main keyword phrase two or three times, don’t worry about it. Keeping your content natural has crossed the line from being smart to being a necessity. If you’ve got a spot to use your keywords an extra time go for it but don’t force in extra uses just to bump your keyword density.
I’ll discuss more penguin proofing tactics in tomorrows post.