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Three ways to avoid the Google Spam Team

2 April, 2012

At the recent SXSW conference, Matt Cutts of Google made an announcement that Google are working on a search ranking penalty for sites that are „overly-optimized for SEO“.  Google’s goal is to give sites with great content a fighting chance to rank high, drive traffc and increase conversions against sites that have poor content but have been overly-optimized for SEO.

An Excerpt from the conference:

The idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit. So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level.“

The SEO communitiy quickly began discussing what constitutes over-optimization and how to ensure that sites are optimized accordingly for the soon-to-be guidelines. Here are three steps in how to avoid an SEO over-optimization penalty.

1. Create content for your audience

Focus on providing content that’s useful to your audience – Sites that are specifically written for SEO often appear clunky, stuffed with keywords and are difficult to read.  By creating content that is readable, it is more likely to be shared on social media sites and thus increase inbound links.

Tip: Use your offline marketing materials to support your online content as offline is written for humans. 

2. It’s not the number of links, but the quality of links

Buying thousands of links to point to your site is a short-term strategy.  With the recent Panda updates from Google, low quality directories and blog networks are devalued and in turn, will lower your rankings. Instead, focus your efforts on counting high quality links to your site that improve the user experience.

Tip:  Create a wish-list of websites within your niche you want to attract links from. You can also start guest blogging – Sign up to Blogger LinkUp

3. Lowering bounce rate and over use of advertisements

An effective way to lower your bounce rate is to ensure internal navigation is natural and encouraging visitors who land on a specific web page to explore your website further by using beneficial relevant links.

In addition, make sure that your content is easy to find and is above the fold rather than focusing on advertisements first. Google has already issued guidelines regarding too many advertisements in a page and if you do not abide, you will be penalized.

Tip: Use web analytics to identify your top landing pages and optimize navigaton and above the fold content.

Focus on your audience first, search engines come second

On their Webmaster Tools blog, Google produced 23 questions that provides guidance on building high-quality sites.  As long as you create valuable and relevant content that puts the user first and not search engines, then you need not worry about the coming opitmization penalty.

SEO has always been long-term strategic marketing – If you are looking for a immediate boost in traffic, use search marketing. The only brands and SEO’s who need to worry and those who employed short-term, low quality tactics. By following the above, you can have peace of mind and know that your search efforts are safe.

What are some of the immediate steps you are taking to ensure Google does not penalise you? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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