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Are You Over-Optimized?
By: Dana Severson
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If you do anything with SEO or search marketing, you’ve no doubt heard rumblings of another change in Google’s algorithm. The shift is said to reward sites with high-quality content, while penalizing those overstuffed with keywords and questionable links.
Barring any glitches, it’s a good move, allowing all the cream to rise to the top — at least when it comes to page rank.
But some honest, ethical businesses could still take a hit or two in their rankings. This is especially true if you’re practicing those old techniques used to dupe search engines. Even with useful content, you could find yourself falling off the first page when you over-optimize.
Rand Fishkin, CEO over at SEOmoz, made a few suggestions to ensure your site isn’t seen as one of the perps.
Review your site titles. And we’re not just talking home pages. Each page needs an authentic title that isn’t stuffed with keywords. If you mention the same word or phrase three to four times, it looks like it’s been written to rank. Cut it way back.
Review your site pages. Lots of pages targeting very similar keywords can dole out some damage. Even when you’ve modified keywords or phrase, the slight variation won’t trick search engines. If the info can exist on one page, do just that.
Review your internal links. Too many internal links with the same anchor text on the same page is SEO manipulative. Not only can this hurt your rank, but it also looks awfully “sales-y.” And no one needs to tell you what that can do to conversion.
Review your footers links. Like internal page links, your footers should only have useful links with logical anchor text. If you’re practicing this optimization technique, it’s just plain lazy SEO doing damage to your numbers.
Review your backlinks. This one’s a bit tricky, especially with all the link networks and reciprocal linking sites. Don’t blush; lots of people have done it. From now on, make sure any link is logical or adds value. Otherwise it can damage your standing.
Review your text content blocks. Not everyone uses this optimization technique, so it may not apply to your site. But if you have a content block listing a bunch of key words, get rid of it. It doesn’t trick search engines. It’s lazy SEO…again.

Making these changes should help you dodge a bullet. If you’ve already been hit, it’s still wise to adjust your site accordingly. Finding yourself on the tenth page of Google doesn’t do much for business.

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About the Author
Dana Severson is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant in the Twin Cities area. Find him at his website for a little downhome advice. 
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