Make sure you don’t over-optimize your website
Many people think of SEO as an on-site matter, even though SEO is also deeply related to external signals, such as the links that point at your site and they way they point at your site.
Google is now going to warn people about their link profiles, whereas before, they didn’t. It would be a wondrous thing if Google actually gave you the exact URLs on which the offensive links existed, but that’s not happening.
If you are a link builder and have performed back link analysis for a client, you know how unpleasant it is to be the one to have to tell the client their site has a manipulated link profile. It’s especially difficult when they had no idea, and no clue as to who created those links, when, or how to get rid of them, or if they can.
But that’s exactly where we are. A great big pile of what do we do now?
I don’t envision I’m going to offer a link rehabilitation service, though it would be a great new niche for link builders to get into. The reason is because in most cases, there isn’t a lot you can do to remove the offending links. Often, the owners of the sites will not reply to emails or phone calls, nor will they want to remove the links because that’s a tacit admission that their service can no longer be trusted.
Which Number ?
But let’s back up for a moment. Exactly what constitutes off-site over optimization of links?
We know blog network participation is one thing. Things get fuzzier when we look at specific metrics like anchor text or reciprocal links or sitewides or blog rolls etc. You can’t pick a fixed number and say that number is the tipping point for any given metric.
Anchor text would seem to be an obvious target. Most people outside the SEO world really don’t fully understand its impact, what it does, why it matters, etc. And Google has mountains of historical data that show what a typical “normal” distribution of anchor text should look like across subject areas. I bet even now, with the Web approaching twenty years of age, the most common anchor text is still probably “Click here”.
So I would like to end this by starting this. What constitutes over-optimization of external inbound links? How would you measure it? What allowances and exceptions would you see as crucial? And at what point do you tell a client to go back and “undo” what’s been done, kill the site completely, or leave what links already exist alone and make changes moving forward?