- Now I know something is going on. I keep getting reports of sites (not mine…not yet, at least) tanking in the SERP results from applying little to moderate SEO to new sites.
If you haven’t heard, new sites are particularly susceptible to the over-SEO’d effect as I call it (that’s brand new), you know, the effect that makes your site tank leaving you scratching your head trying to figure out just what happened.
What we are seeing…new sites with fast rankings getting shot down just as fast.
Personally, I am beginning to think that fast rankings are a fast ticket to the SERP dungeon if your link profile and your on-site behavioural metrics aren’t in perfect order.
So what is going on here?
Here is my theory: Google, as you know, closely records behavioural metrics of your site and closely monitors its inbound link profile.
What’s that you say? You don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site? It doesn’t matter, they can still vector this information from the browsers of surfers who enter and leave your site from and to sites that do have it installed and you have absolutely no control over this.
So, like I was saying, they closely monitor your site’s behavioural metrics easily DESPITE your meager attempts to keep them from doing so.
At this point in the game, after monitoring and profiling millions of websites, actually 100+ million websites, I think it is pretty clear to search engine algorithm engineers what profile fits a legitimately popular website and one that is being SEO’d to the top.
What does this mean? Well, It means that the days of “simple SEO” are behind us. Apparently, the game is changing.
Can search engine results still be manipulated via SEO. Yes. You simply have to match the natural behavioural metrics and link profile of a website that ranks naturally due to those factors…which really isn’t that simple in retrospect.
So how can a natural link profile be duplicated?
Before we can even answer THAT question, we have to check on page factors first. Here is a mini check list that will hep you from over-SEOing your site:
1 ) Make sure that the keyword you stuffed in your title tag sounds natural.
You would be surprised at how easily a keyword can be detected as “stuffed” by an algorithm.
Here is an example of the keyword “SEO Houston” stuffed into a title for the sake of having it at the front: “SEO Houston Where To Find”
Here is an example of the same keyword “SEO Houston” fit in more naturally: “Where To Find SEO In Houston TX”
Now, before everyone starts screaming about the “stop word” “in” sitting between “SEO” and “Houston”, think about how the title sounds to visitors. That is how it sounds to Google. Personally, I believe that keyword stuffing in that manner is old-school SEO and is on the way out. I am definitely interested in hearing your opinion on that one.
2 ) If you keyword stuff, let your keyword variations make up 2-4% of your content, NOT ONE KEYWORD.
Keyword stuffing in that way is easily detectable and I believe is now a red flag. If you feel compelled to stuff your copy full of keywords and you are religious about tracking density, do this…stuff your article with your keyword of choice and check to see that your percentage falls between 2-4%. Then, after finishing your article, go back and change them to variations of the original. Let’s keep Google guessing.
3 ) Avoid building backlinks during the honeymoon period.
No one knows how long the honeymoon period is at this point. What we do know is that something that resembles it is currently in effect. If you rankings surge right out of the gate, definitely do not build links to it. Let it rank and then let the rankings fall. Sure, it will be painful to watch, but it is necessary.
If you absolutely have to, you can drop a few blog comments of a few social bookmarks, but do so sparingly, very sparingly. New sites are not supposed to rank out of the gate unless it is truly viral in nature. In that case, your behavioural metrics and inbound link profile will support it as such.
Initially, focus on quality and consistency.
4 ) Hire the services of an expert link builder.
More often than not, professional link builders have their own networks which gives them the ability to monitor rankings in coordination with link building efforts. This association gives them insight into search engine algorithms that most webmasters simply don’t have.
Link variation and throttling become all to evident as site rise and fall by these phenomena.
Currently, if you haven’t hear, we are in the process of testing one such network in particular. So far, for the long-tail keywords we’ve chosen, it looks like ranking will not be a problem. However, we are looking for sustainability.
Stay tuned for more on that one. If things work out, we will be releasing contact information for the first ever private network we recommend.
So what’s the bottom line, man?
In conclusion, I must say this. The concept of SEO, and the over-application of it specifically, is very tempting to many webmasters. If you ever get a chance, go to the Google Keyword Tool and take a look at some of the “Approximate CPC”values for the keywords “Search Engine Optimization” and “Search Engine Marketing”. Those are pretty high paying keywords. This means two things. First, SEO has historically worked, but history probably won’t repeat itself in this case, at least not in the sort term. Second, SEO is currently surrounded by a massive amount of HYPE.
This actually makes sense. From personal experience, I can tell you that small business owners that are not internet savvy and that learn about SEO and what it CAN do for the first time are completely susceptible to the HYPE. Please don’t abuse this power fellow webmasters.
I think, moving forward, that the aforementioned plan is going to be one that we will be sticking with…at least for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned!
Sidenote: Meanwhile, if your traffic numbers are lower than you would like them to be, try focusing on making the best use of the traffic that you DO HAVE. For this, we recommend this Conversion Rate Optimization Course. Check out the video and see if it doesn’t make sense to you.