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[Guide] Dealing with Over Optimization - The Sky Isn't Falling!

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by Winchester, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    It's on the tip of everyone's tongue these days; and with good reason. Over Optimization is a scary topic - many people were worried it was the death of SEO. In actuality it just means we as SEO providers need to be a little smarter in the way we approach things. Dealing with Over Optimization is really about balancing your approach to SEO. This guide is going to explain some of the aspects that may catch you off guard and how to deal with them. Throughout this guide I'll be providing examples as if we were doing SEO for "McDonalds" as it's a brand that most people are familiar with (and it's near lunch time).

    Backlink Anchor

    One of the main issues that many users face is the diversity of the backlinks they use. Natural SEO happens when a huge number of people are actively talking about something across the internet. They don't all have the same mindset, so the way they talk about it and the links they create to reference a site are all very different. Yours needs to be too! Let's say you are "McDonalds" and the primary keyword you are targeting is "Tasty Burgers". Creating 100% of your links as "Tasty Burgers" may seem like the logical thing to do when in fact it is damaging.

    After reviewing the backlink break down of some high ranking sites that I knew did hardly any (if any at all) SEO the link break down pretty much resembled:

    • 10% Primary Keyword
    • 35% Various other Keywords
    • 25% Click Here/Here/(variation)
    • 30% Raw link

    When creating backlinks it is important to remember that the over optimization update means that Google is actively looking for the SEO you preform, so you are not only trying to improve your SEO but now more than ever you are trying to make it seem natural.

    Use your primary keyword (in our sample case "Tasty Burgers") no more than 10% of the time. You would want to use at least 5 - 10 variations of your keyword 35%. These variations should relate in some way to your primary keyword but still be different. For our sample they make look like this:

    • Delicious Burgers
    • Yummy Burgers
    • Best Burgers
    • Burger Combos
    • Cheap Burgers

    25% of the time you should using what I call the "click here" variations. These are article trimmers commonly used by blogs and websites that write a short snippet about you and are encouraging their readers to check out their website or an expand article. Of the 25% most of them should be on web2.0 profiles, news blogs, or article websites. Here is a small word list to get you started:

    • Click Here
    • Read More
    • More
    • Here
    • Their Site
    • Visit them
    • Visit
    • Website
    • Site
    • Homepage
    • Company Page
    • Profile

    The last 30% of your link building should be focused on using raw links as the anchor. Once again it is important to remember that everyone types differently so even your raw links shouldn't always be the same. For our example:

    Code:
    mcdonalds.com
    mcdonalds.com/
    www.mcdonalds.com
    www.mcdonalds.com/tastyburgers.html
    http://mcdonalds.com
    http://mcdonalds.com/
    http://www.mcdonalds.com/
    http://www.mcdonalds.com/tastyburgers.html
    
    As you can see we've managed to link to the same site in a lot of different ways, and since this is the anchor text it really doesn't make a difference as to where it goes.

    There is another category of link type to be aware of, that makes up <0.4% of most backlink profiles and that is any of the above anchor types with a spelling mistake. This is of course a rare case but I would say if you have anywhere over 5000 backlinks you may want to drop 1 in.

    Backlink Placement

    Now that we have looked at how to deal with backlinks, let's talk about where to put them.

    When looking at backlinks I commonly divide them into four categories:

    • 5% Primary (Authority) Backlinks
    • 5% High End Contextual Backlinks
    • 10% Mixed backlinking
    • 80% Web2.0

    Primary Backlinks:
    First we are going to look at "Primary Backlinks" these are your main backlinks that come from authority sites etc. It's important first to think of your business/or clients business and identify their consumer.

    Example A: My client is a technology based business consultant, his target demographic is therefore other businesses. If someone on the internet was to talk about him it would likely be:

    1. A Business Blog
    2. LinkedIn/Quora Posts
    3. Various Directories
    4. Online Journals
    5. Professional Websites

    Primary links often make are what make or break your website, they should always be contextual, authoritative and built in a whitehat manner. These are your holy grail, so don't take any short cuts, this 5% often makes up 75%+ of my budget.

    Example A is a real client of mine so we can follow exactly some of the steps I took to build up their Primary Links.

    1. Located Business Archives both in and outside of the tech niche and manually created profiles on all of them. Each profile is different text. Nothing spun, nothing repeated, all whitehat. Here are a few samples to give you an idea:

    Code:
    crunchbase.com
    killerstartups.com
    go2web20.net
    tradevibes.com
    startupping.com
    venturebeatprofiles.com
    yellowpages.ca (Canada)
    canadianbusinessdirectory.ca (canada)
    directorylocal.com (USA)
    Superpages.com
    dir.yahoo.com
    clickstate.com
    allpages.com
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companies_of_the_United_States
    http://ylm.ca/ylm/ylm_home.aspx?f=460 (Canada Tech Triangle)
    
    2. We created a tutorial for the employees of the company to teach them how to make Linkedin and Quora profiles, once these were set up to include backlinks we had each of them answer a question on Quora where they felt they had a good understanding of, and their colleges would upvote them. This created a fun team activity for the employees as well as a great deal of quality backlinks for the company. Of course if you aren't a big marketing consultant or working with that type of company, these results can easily be created by one person and some time.

    3. Targeting a journal or other high end article syndication is not always an easy task but it is one that can pay off in the long run. For this client it was the Harvard Business Review blog. For your client it could be something much smaller like a local news journal picking up a press release, or even contacting a blogger to sponsor a featured article. In our case we contacted a past published author and the client paid them to write a quality article on their behalf.

    4. Professional websites are another great form of primary link. For our client it meant contact the people they provide a service to and getting a lot of homepage footer links. For you this could also mean renting page links monthly, buying high pr websites, or guest blogging to get a solid backlink.

    The reason we avoided the McDonalds example in this section is because their style of business really doesn't merit primary backlinks, other than news outlets. Their business style will mostly be involved in social backlinks. If you find that your consumer demographic is large and varied, and a heavy hitter with the youth/young adult demographic you are in the same boat and should just continue on.

    High End Contextual Backlinks

    What I am talking about with High End Contextual Backlinks? These backlinks aren't as well planted as your primary backlinks but they still take time thought and effort.

    These backlinks may consist of comments, forum posts/profiles, on-page content, and social bookmarks. The difference is though they should have unique, contextual content posted with them. As if they were written by different people over time, giving them more authority than bulk bookmarking you are going to do later.

    Mixed Backlinking

    Mixed backlinks are where you actually want to look for some middle of the road properties such as small web2.0 or crappy bookmarking sites, and have poor descriptions (if any) of the link.

    These links are designed to be your "bad links" any time a website goes big everyone is talking about it; sadly it is a combination of both the people you want talking about it and the people you don't want talking about it. In order to make your SEO look natural it is important to ensure that this demographic is represented.

    Web2.0 Backlinks

    When you think about how the web has evolved (marketing as well for that matter) it has shifted away from webmasters and editors pushing content in one direction and become a constantly evolving conversation between multiple parties.

    Chances are if people are talking about your business or website the conversation is happening on social media, social bookmarking and web2.0 properties.

    While these are mostly bulk made backlinks take the time to make top quality spinnable articles rather than farming writeups out to low-end article writing chop-shops. The most important thing is the relation to keywords but it is important to note that Google does have the ability to detect the reading level of a passage.

    Small List of Web2.0 Properties to get you started:
    Code:
    [b]PR9[/b]
    http://wordpress.com
    
    
    
    [b]PR8[/b]
    http://squidoo.com
    http://weebly.com
    http://livejournal.com
    http://bravenet.com
    
    
    [b]PR7[/b]
    http://blogger.com
    http://blogsome.com
    http://www.wetpaint.com
    http://www.wikispaces.com
    http://www.xanga.com
    http://www.tripod.lycos.com
    http://tumblr.com
    http://quizilla.teennick.com
    http://viviti.com
    http://webs.com
    http://knol.google.com
    http://friendster.com
    
    
    [b]PR 6[/b]
    http://bigadda.com
    http://blog.co.uk
    http://blog.com
    http://www.zimbio.com
    http://gather.com
    http://diaryland.com
    http://edublogs.org
    http://opendiary.com
    http://sosblog.com
    
    [b]PR5[/b]
    http://20six.co.uk
    http://blog.ca
    http://hubpages.com
    http://blurty.com
    http://upsaid.com
    http://tabulas.com
    http://tblog.com
    http://terapad.com
    http://shoutpost.com
    http://thoughts.com
    http://blogskinny.com
    http://free-conversant.com
    http://freeflux.net
    
    [b]PR4[/b]
    http://blogeasy.com
    http://blogstream.com
    http://blogstudio.com
    http://blogtext.org
    http://insanejournal.com
    http://journalfen.net
    http://journalhub.com
    http://bloxster.net
    http://bloghi.com
    http://mynewblog.com
    http://netcipia.com
    http://wikyblog.com
    http://blogigo.com
    http://freeblogit.com
    
    [b]PR3[/b]
    http://blogono.com
    http://blogr.com
    
    Small List of Social Bookmarking (Best for raw link or short descriptions)

    Code:
    [b]Major Sites[/b]
    Twiiter.com
    Digg.com
    Stumbleupon.com
    Reddit.com
    Pinterest.com
    BuzzFeed.com
    Del.icio.us
    tweetmeme.com
    fark.com
    slashdot.com
    friendfeed.com
    clipmarks.com
    newsvine.com
    diigo.com
    Dzone.com
    Chime.in
    -------------------
    
    [b]Smaller Sites[/b]
    a1-webmarks.com
    agroots.com
    bibsonomy.org
    blinklist.com
    Bookmax.net
    Cloudytags.com
    corank.com
    folkd
    gather.com
    givealink.org
    icio.de (german)
    memotoo.com
    Mister-Wong.com (german)
    multiply.com
    Plurk.com
    Rambhai.com (India)
    SocialAdr
    TechCrsp.com
    Thoof.com
    Totalpad.com
    
    If you are looking for more social bookmarking websites you can check out:

    http://www.social-bookmarking-sites-list.com/

    This website lists over 700 social bookmarking sites, and can rank them by pagerank, do-follow and alexa rank.

    Timing

    More than ever SEO needs to slow down, blasting out hundreds of thousands of links, or even 1000 of links a day is something that will for sure get you a red flag in Google's eyes.

    When analyzing small sites as they grow you will notice that they have a constant amount of small link growth, coupled with small bursts of additional coverage.

    From the results I've looked at it roughly seems that these bursts represent a 275% - 350% growth in links for 2 - 4 days, and then a 15% - 20% higher link value the following days until the next burst. Outside of this I try to limit growth to no more than 10% per week.

    For example:

    If your website gains 100 backlinks a day (obviously a very popular site) your burst days would be 375 - 450 backlinks. Then once it has settled down you will be gaining 115 - 120 backlinks per day again. The next week even if there is no burst I would move up to

    While every site is different growth patterns are usually based on the news posting or sharing of a site, and thanks to the short attention span of the internet it usually quickly returns.

    The only time there are exceptions to this rule is when a startup company, social media site or internet phenomenon takes off, their links skyrocket and are more than likely subject to some form of secondary algorithm.

    To some of you the numbers in the example may seem high, to others it may seem low. It all depends on what type of site you are building, but remember far more often than not the quality of the link FAR outweighs the quantity. If your site is creating 1000 spammy links a day you are doing it wrong.

    Reading Level

    This one may come as a surprise to many of you but Google is actively aware of the quality of your sites content by application of the Flesch?Kincaid reading level analysis.

    After Google's acquisition of MetaWeb on July 16th 2010, they began pushing further and further into the idea of "semantic search" to understand both user needs and webpage quality. By integrating MetaWeb's early adaptation of page reading level analysis (and now having it as an option advanced search) Google showed that article quality was something key above all else. Perhaps why technical giants like Wikipedia were able to swoop up a number of high SERP rankings over the years.

    Basically the way the Flesch?Kincaid system is scored is:

    90.0?100.0 easily understood by an average 11-year-old student
    60.0?70.0 easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students
    0.0?30.0 best understood by university graduates

    The lower the score the more difficult the read. In general it's best to aim for something between 25 - 40, and there are many online tools that will help you figure out the Flesch-Kincaid score of your page.

    If you are a hardknock and want to figure out yourself the formula is as follows:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/math/4/e/0/4e00010b3dbb079fb3c8ab74482b9bef.png

    Common Questions

    Is drip feeding important?

    I think it is certainly something of value, but in general I only use drip feeding when it is built into indexing tools. Otherwise if you are using a drip creation tool you are probably getting low quality articles, very little context, and more links than you actually need.

    What do I do if I am hit with penalty

    If you are hit with penalty you will want to remove Google Webmaster Tools, and analytics from your website first.

    You will then want to evaluate where your penalty may have come from and take steps to re-balance this. If you find your percent of one type of anchor are too high then continue to build others till it is at a more acceptable level.

    Once you have resolved the penalty cause wait about a week then re-add Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to your website.

    At that time ping out updates regarding your website and you should be re-crawled in no time.

    So it's not about bulk backlinks or just building on my keyword?

    Nope, it used to be, but SEO is rapidly changing. Now more than ever you want quality on-site and variety off-site. Remember if your SEO was a result of natural web discussion there would be a ton of differences in every link, in fact very few of them would be the same. They would look different, go different places, and be on varying properties of varying value built over time.

    It is now the goal of an SEO specialist to work closely with clients to meld marketing and SEO together, to guide them in whitehat practices that give clear long lasting results.

    Sure there are methods that are blackhat that have some impact, but in a world of increasing penalties it's always better to make good strong quality manual links (which is actually good for us - it means we can charge more as we can't be beat out by bots).

    Are there any services on BHW that offer this type of SEO?

    They are starting to pop-up here and there, look for people who take a unique and long-term approach to a client site. Don't expect results over night. When I make up SEO plans for a client rather than set my goals for one month, I break the year down by quarters.

    Do spinnable articles still work?

    The content on your site needs to be more carefully tended to than it has been in the past, spin articles are great for your backlinking and bookmarking; but for on-page content I would recommend hiring a professional or doing it yourself. Making sure to take care with keyword density and reading levels.

    I don't agree with what you've said!/Link Spamming still works!

    I am sure there are people who will argue, and I am sure there are people that will swear by link spamming. That is your opinion feel free to have and express it. I am not trying to tell you how to do SEO, I am giving you my findings and my approach to dealing with changes that Google is pushing out more and more - if you don't like them, don't use them. It's as simple as that.
     
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  2. LakeForest

    LakeForest Supreme Member

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    Now this...This is a post. +Repped.

    Silencing the prophets of doom and sending them back to work. Beautiful.
     
  3. --sKy--

    --sKy-- Regular Member

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    Wow certainly a great thread
     
  4. talkmeow

    talkmeow Regular Member

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    Awesome post, reading through it right now! Big thanks for this
     
  5. calebmann

    calebmann Power Member Premium Member

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    good work on this guide.
     
  6. Klikster

    Klikster Registered Member

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    Spectacular read, thanks a lot for this. Going to try your diversify method with one of my next projects. :)
     
  7. jrbobdobbs

    jrbobdobbs Junior Member

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    Props, props. Swiped.

    I have gone this route with my own offline business, works great, stable rankings for the long term. getting heartily sick of all that spinning, spamming crap. There's some great stuff in this post, thanks mate.
     
  8. nYXem

    nYXem Power Member

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    That's one of the best articles I've read in a long time.

    One thing. Here you've dealt with off-site SEO. What about on-site? Does over-optimization apply to only off-site?
     
  9. Windmill

    Windmill Supreme Member

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    Thanking you, and most in particular I am liking these discussions as of late of how to get actual authority links. E.g. your idea with Linkedin was great. This is something I have not been doing for my clients, but something I probably need to get into if they start paying big $$$ ever :D
     
  10. Winchester

    Winchester BANNED BANNED

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    Lurking on a mobile right now so its hard to respond but I did want to address your post. The reading level section does touch on on-site SEO as well, up your quality and watch your density.

    The other factors of onsite SEO are don't keyword stuff or any of those other rubbish techniques you should know anyway.

    Naming it "over optimization" too me seems a bit of a misnomer when Google is really just trying to find people like us who have SEO figured out.

    While the bulk of this is off-site don't think that on-site isn't important:

    Keep content at a good reading level
    Use your keyword in title and header no more than once
    Avoid to high a density (if you reach 7-8 percent its getting a little unnatural)
    Keep readable quality
    Keep as much as possible above the fold
    Watch out for link errors (not over optimization just good practice)
    And apply all this to every page not just the front page
     
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  11. ContentCreation

    ContentCreation BANNED BANNED

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    This thread needs to be stickied! Awesome read .. Thanks
     
  12. nYXem

    nYXem Power Member

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    Thanks for the quick response.

    Regarding keyword density, I think around 5% would be enough, right?
    I think even only few years back 10% was fine, but days are changing I guess.
     
  13. LakeForest

    LakeForest Supreme Member

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    Better to keep it under 5% now. Some say even under 3%. And some say even under 2% or 1%.
     
  14. RAYRAY7

    RAYRAY7 Regular Member

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    Well meaning advice, but Google is now opening the door to nuclear SEO war. Lately, backlinks can be used to dethrone your site from ranking well for some keywords.

    While you might be a fair player, some SEO practitioners would win at all cost. Since Google now penalizes any site with too many backlinks, watch for DIRTY tactics to begin!
     
  15. BLIXX

    BLIXX Regular Member

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    Great post, but I'm not sure I follow how or why the removal of WMT and GA would affect one's own evaluation of, discovery of the reasons behind, and subsequent resolution of a penalty: Google already knows the problem, they're the one's who send the messages. Further, only aggregated GA data is sent to Google and is anonymous or ultimately only used as aggregate data - never at the single-site level to in any way affect the organic search results for the site with GA installed. You seem like a reasonable guy, though, and must have put this bit in here for a specific reason - can you elaborate?
     
  16. BB_Robert

    BB_Robert Newbie

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    Very helpful post for those of us still getting our feet wet in IM. I'll be using a lot of this on my next project.
    +Rep
     
  17. nYXem

    nYXem Power Member

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    Right. The other day, a guy told me about 1% keyword density and I though he was joking, guess what, he was not :p
     
  18. pasenseoso

    pasenseoso Power Member

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    thanks OP.

    about keyword density, the best model for it is ezinearticles. they only allow less than 2% of the keywords when they were first hit by panda a year ago...
     
  19. manny521

    manny521 Supreme Member

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    What about if you have a brand name, what percentage of anchor text should this include?

    In your example, you use McDonalds, I would think a large portion of anchor should include this as well.
     
  20. itsjinx

    itsjinx Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I absolutely believe that 1.5% is the golden figure. Anything over 2% is BAD