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Have you more aggressively optimized recently?
Internal changes that can lead to potential problems include:
• More aggressive kw optimization, e.g., changes to Titles, META's, <Hx> tags, placement and density of kw's, etc.
• Link structure changes, and especially link text changes. Updates to link text or structure, if done for optimization reasons, can push a site into filter/penalty territory. Look in particular for overuse of kw's.
Given that the above were more-or-less the rules of SEO, I'm confused now - are we supposed to *stop* doing all the above?!? In which case, how do you indicate what your target keywords/subject is?
I've been out of the loop for a little while, so would appreciate any pointers to threads on this subject (wish there was search function for the forums!), or a re-visit to the topic by our learned members?
If these were the old "rules", what are the new ones:
1. Keywords in Title, Meta tags, H1 - all matching.
2. Keywords mixed into other Hx tags
3. Keywords at beginning, middle, end of page - good density, but natural
4. Keywords in alt text of images
5. Keywords in anchor text of links to your page, matching the keyword phrase used in your Title/Meta/H1 from above.
6. More links to the pages that you want to have more PR - i.e. link back to home page on every page, assuming that home page is important!
Comments appreciated, need to dig myself out of the SERPS hole I just fell into...any guidance on what the new rules of SEO are is much appreciated!
Anything that is "[location] hotels" is targeted by the most horrendous...uh...shall we say "optimizers" on the planet.
Far fewer target "[location] usa hotels." This might explain your serps change.
It's a shame Google can't tell the difference between real content and a collection of meaningless words. Therein lies the challenge if you want to use automated ranking systems. Humans can tell the difference, algorithms can't... not yet anyway.
"By taking "usa" out of your keyword real estate you flipped from words in proximity to adjacent words, from two words to the phrase."
Don't you think it's a little weird that my SERPS were better for that phrase BEFORE I targetted the exact phrase?!?
No, not at all.
Google was used to your site being optimised for a different key phrase. It had confidence in that phrase. You site, I assume, had been strongly promoting that phrase for some time.
When you re-focused you did more than enter a different search space you started afresh at building Google's confidence in your new titles and headings. Google's cache goes back several generations, you know. The mantra, "Stay on topic" is gold for a reason. I dare say you would have begun to climb the SERPs on the '[location] hotel' headers after a while; this would have been Google beginning to accept that your site was now firmly on topic for that phrase. Instead you flipped back to the term which Google already had a historic record of your site being a good match for.
I hope I'm not leaking "secrets" all over the place. I thought this aspect of Google's algo was fairly well known among SEOers. Some senior member please tell me to shut up otherwise!