The Google Overoptimisation Update & SEO
Google’s Matt Cutts recently let slip that Google’s next update would target sites that were overoptimising for their target keywords – but what does that mean for SEO?
It’s extremely rare for Google to announce their updates in advance, but whether it was intentional or not, Cutts’ candid revelation should be applauded as it gives well-meaning webmasters chance to correct their sites and avoid an overoptimisation penalty.
How Can I Avoid An Overoptimisation Penalty?
The update is expected to target sites that rely on ‘keyword stuffing’ to make their landing pages relevant to a given search query – so if your HP printers page mentions the word ‘HP printers’ 5 times in the title tag and 75 times in your 400 words of on-page content, you might want to rethink your strategy.
Similarly if all your internal links use the same exact match anchor text you’re leaving yourself open. Instead of ‘HP Printers’, try ‘Hewlett Packard printers’ or if it’s from your printers category page, go for simply ‘HP’ instead. Already things are looking more natural.
Won’t I Lose Rankings?
Nobody can ever predict the impact of a Google algorithm change, but while rankings are never update-proof, there’s actually potential to get more traffic thanks to Google’s increased reliance on latent semantic indexing.
If you’re not familiar with this concept, I saw a great example earlier while researching guest post opportunities for a client on pet blogs. An ‘inurl’ search for ‘pets’ and ‘write for us’ brings up the following results:
Notice how Google is emboldening the word ‘dogs’ because it knows it’s relevant to ‘pets’ – this is an example of how Google has come to understand synonyms, rather than robotically returning the exact phrase searched.
However, these results are highly filtered by the inurl search – a simple Google search for ‘pets’ just brings up pages optimised for that specific keyword.
So What Changes Will The Update Bring?
Google’s forthcoming update is expected to bring much more reliance on synonyms to its search results. So while the update WILL penalise sites that overoptimise for exact match keywords, this isn’t the signal for webmasters and SEOs to panic and completely de-optimise their sites – this WILL mean a loss in rankings.
Instead, it’s an opportunity to stop ignoring user experience and make your onsite content much more natural – Google is allowing you to cater to users without sacrificing traffic. In short – it’s no longer a compromise between SEO and user experience, they’re now one and the same thing.
So stop keyword stuffing, optimise for synonyms, write more natural on-page content and you’ll can expect traffic for a greater range of keywords, as well as a more conversion-friendly website.
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