Is Your Content Over Optimized?

For any business, organization or product looking to improve their online search rankings, Google search engine optimization (SEO) is the answer. As a result, SEO companies specialize in using keywords strategically placed in the content, so that Google’s algorithm can determine what the material is about. Thus, when internet users key in a particular phrase or keyword, the algorithm can detect the keywords from various online sources and provide the user with content that best matches the words/phrases searched in their results.

However, in a bid to get a better ranking on Google, businesses often over optimize their content by over saturating it with keywords. As a result, the content ends up being focused on over using keywords for ranking purposes as opposed to providing internet users with credible and useful information. Over the years, Google has caught on to this practice, and as a result, they have made some changes to their algorithm to ensure that when you search for a keyword on their engine, you do not just get keyword saturated content but something informative and useful to you. Below are some of the changes Google has recently implemented on their search engine, and how an SEO company can assist you with the new SEO content optimization regulations to get a good ranking.

Understand Latent Semantic Index (LSI)

Earlier on, Google ranked keyword stuffed content at the top of its indexes irrespective of how irrelevant the information was to an internet user. However, today, keyword stuffing your content will get you penalized by Google. As a result, Google introduced the Latent Semantic Indexing system to ensure that their algorithm doesn’t rank keyword stuffed content at the top of its search results.
Latent Semantic Indexing is a system that links one keyword to another relevant keyword by analyzing various keyword patterns that can get used together. For instance, if you search on Google ‘how to bake a chocolate cake?’ The algorithm recognizes the words ‘bake’ and ‘cake’ as keywords. Another person looking for the same information will search for ‘chocolate cake recipes’ while another will search ‘chocolate cake icing ingredients.’ Icing, recipes, and ingredients are keywords that are related to content on the baking of a chocolate cake, and thus they are considered as LSI keywords.

LSI keywords enable content to have a flow as well as provide additional keywords related to the main keyword of your content. Therefore, you do not have to over optimize your content with just one or a few keywords to get rankings as it will get you penalized. However, researching and placing relevant and useful LSI keywords can be a daunting task. As a result, most businesses prefer to employ the services of an SEO company to conduct research and to implement them into content seamlessly.

Pay Attention to Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to the percentage of your content that comprises of a particular keyword. The percentage gets calculated by dividing the number of keywords used by the total number of words in the content, and then multiplying the result by a hundred. To detect over-optimized content on their engine, Google utilizes keyword density to identify and punish keyword over stuffing. A high keyword density automatically gets classified as keyword spam and as such; the content doesn’t get selected for ranking in the search results. This is meant to prevent websites from over packing their material with numerous keywords to get listed, rather than provide useful content to their customers.

Keywords are still critical for rankings. However, keyword, including LSI keywords, should be used sparingly. According to our tests, the keyword density should always be below 5% with exact keywords under 2%. Additionally, to ensure that the density is sufficient enough to get detected by the LSI system for ranking, it is advisable to keep the density including LSIs at 2-4% max. With respect to this, to get favorably ranked, it is advisable to work with a professional SEO company. They have the expertise, tools, and experience to navigate Google’s algorithm so that you don’t get penalized for over optimization, and you still get good rankings.

Google’s “Fred” Update is Pure Speculation, Not a Real Update

Google Fred update

As a company that focuses on SEO for a core competency, our team is always testing various methods of rankings, and comparing our results across several groups of high level SEOs.  The consensus on the results of “Fred” have been negligible at the most.  On even some of the most SPAM heavy test sites, rankings either did not move, or moved up.  Below are the current mainstream ideas of what was affected as well as our estimation of what is really behind these ranking changes.

Sites with Too Many Ads or that Exist Purely for Ads

The major issue with this is that every single major publication exists to make money.  Said another way, they exist to earn ad revenue in some shape or form and their websites are no different.  I haven’t seen anywhere that any major publication dropped in rankings and they are the biggest culprits when it comes to ad revenue, still implementing questionable tactics such as pop overs and more.

Sites with Inbound Links from Old PBNs

This second assertion does seem to have more example behind it.  The general concern seems to be that sites with links from “old style” PBNs that are multi topic and not themed caused some of the rankings to drop.  After talking with our network, only a small percentage of the “old school” PBNs linking to their affected sites were deindexed.  In the past, if something was deemed to be that much spam it would be de-indexed and would provide a pretty clear indication of issues.

What We Think Happened

Since everyone is putting out their Google conspiracy theories we figured we might as well make our public.  From our experience, most PBNs are built on WordPress.  The recent vulnerability in the 4.7 release of WordPress left a massive opportunity for sites to be hacked.  As reported across many publications, more than 1.5M sites were hacked before updating to 4.7.3.  The latest update, version 4.7.3 was released on Mar 6, at which time they made public what the vulnerability was. On Mar 15, a week and a half after the announcement, Securi released an article addressing that many sites still had not updated to the new version of WP.  This timeframe, from Mar 6 to Mar 15, when the site hacking seemed to increase on vulnerable sites seems to perfectly align with the effects of “Fred” starting to appear.

Our assertion is that the effects on the recent fluctuation in the rankings has more to do with old style PBNs being hacked and content being changed or erased so that the target properties lost links.  If people have site out there that are still set up incorrectly they are probably just sitting there wasting away and could easily have fallen into the group of sites that were hacked.  From what we have seen, both from our test sites and from our peers, many PBNs were indeed hacked and the energy/ time/ resources to fix them is lacking so many of them are still affected even after updating to the current version of WordPress.  Again, this is just a theory but it seems more plausible than many of the others we have read in recent days.


Are you a good candidate for SEO?

One of the core values of our business is to ensure our clients can and will see a higher than expected ROI on their marketing investment. Unfortunately that means that some businesses are simply not good candidates for SEO services. There is a lot that goes into this analysis but here is a down and dirty method to see if you are a good fit for Search Engine Optimization or if you should be looking for at a different marketing channel.

Although no one can fully trust the numbers that Google releases, they are a reasonable estimate of the search volume of different terms. To see the search volume for various terms you can do a simple search for the Google Keyword Planner and then login with your gmail login information. Now you can start looking at different terms and the way that different people search for your services. Now that you have an idea of the search volume you need to look at the second part of the equation, Lifetime Customer Value. For this you need to know on average what every new customer or client is worth to you. Now is the time for a little estimation.

Take the total search volume and multiply that by the percentage you can get to your website. For reference, 42% of searchers select the #1 organic listing and 8% go past the first page. Now you have to multiply that number by the percentage you think will convert to customers. If you are in a service industry it is usually best to break this into two parts. First, estimate what percentage will convert to a call or visit and second factor in what percentage of those will convert to customers. You can play with the numbers but this is a good rule of thumb to get a conservative idea of what your return will look like from an SEO company. This also lets you factor in different prices to see what your return will be from different investment levels. Just keep in mind that like everything else in life you get what you pay for so getting SEO services that do not work will not provide a positive return.

We try to be very conservative in our numbers to ensure every possibility for a higher ROI so we usually estimate lower for the volume of customers you will get to your site and then low again for conversions. Because over 90% of searches never make it to page 2, SEO has become a game of digital real estate. Just like monopoly, there are only so many blocks and people are going to land on one of them. If you have several of the spaces on page 1 for your business then you are in a position to get the most possible traffic. Our methods of getting multiple first page rankings help us to deliver the highest possible value to our clients and as a general rule, they see a vastly higher return than we estimated. If you would like to know more please visit our website,, and fill out our discovery form or give us a call at (866) 805-3494.