There has been a lot of discussion of late surrounding comments made by both Google and Bing representatives related to the ‘over optimization’ of web pages. To begin with, Google has been active in fighting ‘over optimization’ for a long time, it’s nothing new. If you have a new website that suddenly has thousands of inbound links, this will raise a flag with Google that somethings amiss, and you’ll most likely find your web site on page 99 of the search results – and that’s just one example. Most SEO professionals know that growth has to be consistent and not sudden.
One theory that is being discussed is that of intent. Are Google and Bing really looking at over optimized web pages and penalizing those that meet this criteria. We have seen in the past where major changes to algorithms have unjustly hurt websites – there is still a lot of flak flying around related to the Panda update and the way some sites may have been unfairly dealt with.
Whether this is a serious issue or just smoke and mirrors, website owners do need to be careful when it comes to optimizing their web pages. We all want to have our pages listed above the fold on page one of the search results, however, search engines do want to see natural movement towards that aim, not a sudden overnight leap. Search engines are also looking for ‘natural’ signals, and one of the main natural signals is that of inbound links, more importantly, link text.
If every link coming into your website involves keyword rich link text, search engines may well flag this as unnatural. Natural human links come in a wide range of text formats, the majority of which are not keyword related. In fact, for the majority of websites, the main inbound link and associated text is to the home page using either the business name or the domain name as the link text. Another popular link is the word ‘here’, for example, you can read more about this issues HERE.
My question then is very simple, do you include generic untargeted inbound links in your SEO strategy? Perhaps you should. Some websites are fortunate. They are popular enough that users build those links naturally for them. The website owners can concentrate on keyword rich link text. For the majority of us, we should be concentrating on both, just to keep the balance right.