Is Google shaking down paid links now more than ever? It seems that more and more sites are slipping from page 1 to page 3 or 4 in the SERPs (search engine result pages). What is one possible cause? The obvious conclusion… over-optimization!
What Does Over-Optimization Mean?
It means that you pushed too far with one of the four metrics below. Each tells a story (like a piece of a puzzle) and collectively they sculpt the granular degree of trust, authority and positioning your web pages can acquire.
The metrics are:
- Link Profile
- Backlink Diversity
- Anchor Text Diversity
- Link Velocity
If you currently enjoy top rankings, its because you approached the SEO metrics above properly. Any funny-stuff could trip an algorithmic filter and invoke a digital pimp smack from Google. In addition to your page taking some time-off from the top 10 results, the offending site is vetoed for using this abused SEO technique. In other words (the offending sites get their rank pulled) or ability to rank other sites for any anchor text whatsoever.
Just think of this as your online record – from the time your website went live (from the first crawl) to this very day, your link profile leaves a trail. Just think of it like a ticker-tape of reputation, citation and accomplishment – or in some causes a blemish (if the sites linking to you get devalued and / or penalized).
Back Link Diversity:
Are your links coming from one source or IP block of sites (all owned from the same registrar) or network or are you links from a plethora of places online? Remember 1995 when satellite sites in the hundreds were sacrificed using link wheels to prop up a money domain?
Well, just in case you don’t “Google does” – and it has an answer for any blatant attempt to manipulate its algorithm – “demotion“.
Not that you can control all the links your website receives, its just if they are all coming from a small cluster of sites (with the same IP range, anchor text and happen rapidly), changes are, the algorithm will smell something fishy.
Anchor Text Diversity:
Are you getting the same anchor text links to the same page in ridiculously disproportionate volumes? Then chances are that keyword took a hiatus to page 2 or 3 (but your OTHER rankings are just fine).
What does it mean? That you pushed it too far son, and now search engines have labeled your page and/or website as a spammer (and have put your page on watch). Sure, you can unravel a penalty (diversify anchor text, use the domain name in stead of anchors or elect another page until the bad juju wears off), but consider it a penalization of sorts saying (diversity is the key).
What is link velocity? It is the rater in which you gain or lose links. If your website get 100,000 links in one month to one page out of the blue – you will either be considered an online rock star or pinned up for further interrogation from search engine algorithms.
Remember the Google caffeine update or Google Mayday Update that clipped long-tail traffic a few months back? Well in case you didn’t those under the hood infrastructure changes with caffeine and Google Mayday ranking changes allow them to zero in on citation close to “real-time” to assess the validity of links, if they are appearing in “natural clusters” or if they are leaving a trail of automation or “a natural spike or link progression“.
Google Caffeine is the litmus test for links, Google Mayday makes sure that each page that ranks is worthy enough to stand on its own – in other words many of the borderline tactics SEO’s used prior to their inception quickly became defunct.
This is where diversity again comes in to play, whereby if a page is receiving the same links with the same anchors in a disproportionate volume – changes are its on purpose. However that purpose may differ from the terms of service for Google (which goes back to demotion) as the result.
The takeaway, if you enjoy top rankings in Google, Yahoo and Bing – stick with quality content, link diversity, anchor text diversity and moderation (patience) with link building when scaling the SERPs for multiple keywords. Failure to comply through impatience can often result in penalization, lost time and lost profits, and nobody likes to start from zero.