SE OH! Recovering From Over-Optimization
Keyword stuffing can be tempting.
However, following Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, if you want to grow your business and increase your website traffic, you need to resist said temptation. There’s a fine line between writing engaging content for real people and over-optimizing keywords for search engine robots.
SEO copywriting specifically targets the words and phrases people use when searching for a product or service on the internet. It’s every webmaster’s dream to rank number one in Google and with properly targeted, keyword-rich copy in place, search engines are more likely to index your web site generously.
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However, if you over-optimise your website in favour of reaching Google’s promised land, you can detrimentally affect your website’s rankings by being penalised. One of the most common traps websites owners fall into is ‘keyword-stuffing’ whereby you try to fit as many keywords into your content as possible, in the hope that Google will reward you kindly for it. Following Google’s recent algorithm updates, this is now considered black hat SEO and should be avoided at all costs.
Internet search engines are constantly developing new technologies and algorithms in order to make searching keywords and phrases smarter and more effective. Google robots no longer give significance to the repetition of words throughout a website. Instead, they focus on content that has meaning, makes grammatical sense and provides genuinely useful information. These updates have forced webmasters to improve their website content or suffer the consequences of a dramatic drop in traffic.
How Do You Know If You’ve Over Optimised Your Website?
The first thing most webmasters notice after being penalised for over optimisation is a drop in website visitors. It’s not uncommon for visitors to reduce by more than half in a very short period of time – often within a week or two after re-indexing. A reduction in visitors consequently leads to a reduction in sales and generally a lot of stress for business owners. However, this can be solved! There are ways to get on Google’s good side again and even though it takes a little time and effort, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
How to Recover from Over-Optimisation
1. Firstly, check your keyword density.
It’s important to know how far off the mark you are. Most SEO blogs suggest keeping your keyword density to somewhere between 1 and 4 %. If your website’s content is above this, then you need to get re-writing. There are many free keyword density checkers online that will roughly check your website for you.
One simple way of checking the keyword density of a particular article offline, is to copy and paste the text into Microsoft Word and use the word count tool to firstly count the number of words in the text. Then by using the ‘Find’ function (Ctrl F), type the keyword you want to check. By dividing the amount of keywords by the total number of words in the document, then multiplying by 100, you can work out the keyword density of the text, for any particular keyword.
2. Re-write your old content.
The only way of reducing your website’s keyword density is to remove the repeated words on your pages. Once you’ve checked your website’s keyword density, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how many of these keywords to remove. For example, if the keyword density of a page is 20% for a particular keyword, you’ll only want to keep 1 in every 6 instances of that keyword because 20/6 = 3.33%, which is a better number to aim for.
Be careful not to change too much of the main body of your content though, as you still need these words to fill the space around your keywords. Also consider inserting keywords as tags and focus on good, high quality content that makes your site readable and appealing to users.
3. Write brand new content.
The more new content you add to your website, the lower your keyword density will become as long as you don’t keep adding more keywords. Remember that the main focus of content creation should be the customer not the search engine so don’t worry if you feel you haven’t included enough keywords or phrases in your copy – your website could probably be doing with a break from them anyway!
4. Increase your inbound links.
There are many different strategies for increasing inbound links and it’s worth researching the free information that’s available from various SEO blogs and forums. Some effective methods include contacting other webmasters who host similar sites to yours and simply asking if they’d mind placing a link to your website from theirs. Commenting on blogs will often provide you with a link back to your site and participating in forums that allow users to place a link in their signatures can also help. Remember that when it comes to backlinks, go for quality over quantity. One backlink from a high page ranking website within your niche is worth more than several backlinks from low PR websites whose content is unrelated to yours.
5. Be patient.
Unfortunately, your keyword problem isn’t going to go away overnight – after all, it probably took you several months to create the problem in the first place. If you follow steps 1 to 4 above then you could find your website’s visitors steadily increasing fairly quickly depending on how often Google indexes new content on your website. If you commit to making these changes, your website’s visitors could be back to normal after around 1 month.
So if you’ve been unfortunate enough to find yourself on the receiving end of a Google content penalty, now you know how to overcome them and avoid them in the future. For more advice on how to recover from over-optimization, check out our post SEO Copywriting Tips.
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