Google’s algorithm updates unleashed a reign of terror across the interwebs these past few months. The updates left a lot of upstanding marketers wondering what exactly some of the specific practices Google frowns upon are since most people are trying to stay in Google’s good graces.
In other words, what were the over-optimizers doing? And where can I find them so I can have a curbside chat with them for causing so many sleepless nights?
What drives the algorithm changes
Google is trying to eliminate web spam (think email spam—but on the web, or see this explanation) so its users have a pleasant experience. With this goal in mind, they’re trying to wipe out the bad guys who use shady over-optimization tactics (see below) to manipulate the search engines and get better ranking and more traffic.
Over-optimization tactics short list
Hidden text or links: If you hide a bunch of text on a page that’s just bloated, unreadable, keyword-stuffed garbage, you caught Google’s eye—and not in a good way.
Cloaking or sneaky redirects: Ever been to a page when suddenly BLAMMO! you’re somewhere else? This is not what users want. Neither does Google.
Irrelevant keywords: Would you shop at “Dave’s Guitars and Nail Salon”? To quote Jerry Seinfeld, “Not bloody likely.”
It’s the same concept on the web: When users come to your site, they want to see information that’s relevant to their search, not a link from a guitar website to a nail salon.
Duplicate content: Duplicate content, both on your site and on other sites, is a big no-no. If you have said something once on your site, that’s enough. Write something new and fresh for your other site(s) or page(s).
Malicious pages: Phishing scams, viruses, Trojans… These are all issues to users, and if they’re issues to users, you can bet they’re issues to Google.
Affiliate value: If you are a part of an affiliate program, be sure that you are adding value, not just putting out the same junk over and over. Have unique, relevant content that makes users want to return to your site.
This is a brief list for sure, but these are some of the most common over-optimization practices. Hopefully, with Google dropping the hammer repeatedly, people will get the message: You avoid Google’s wrath by crafting relevant, useful pages that have high-quality content that’s written for users.
Just remember: If it’s good for a user, it’s good for your Google rankings.