Martin John

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Hello all,

Anyone here have any experience with de-overoptimizing a clients site?

I have a client who has a great website, a successful business, tons of organic traffic, and is currently ranked #5 for their main keyword, plus #1 rankings for many longer tail and service keywords. So all in all the website and the business is in great shape.

There's one problem though which makes me worry, and it's that the site is over-optimized...

Worried-Indian-Man-@-Computer.jpg

The business and the site have been around for about 10 years now, and the owner is a pretty tech savvy fellow which explains the over-optimization as he was being clever at the time when he set everything up.

Urls are over-optimized

He has stuffed the location and main keyword into the folder structure of the site as well as into some of the page urls.

*not actual company name (mvp mechanical, just made it up)

So instead of ww.mvpmechanical.com/services/installation it might be:

ww.mvpmechanical.com/heating-seattle/installation
ww.mvpmechanical.com/heating-seattle/corporate
ww.mvpmechanical.com/heating-seattle/residential-heating

the about page instead of just being /about/ is /seattle-heating/

ww.mvpmechanical.com/seattle-heating/our-team
ww.mvpmechanical.com/seattle-heating/donation-requests-seattle

the contact page instead of just being /contact/ is /seattle-heating-contact/

ww.mvpmechanical.com/seattle-heating-contact/get-quote
ww.mvpmechanical.com/seattle-heating-contact/location

etc. and on and on.

and some of the pages themselves (not just folder structure) unnecessarily have city name or main kw in the url as well.

Footer area is over-optimized

There is a site-wide anchor in the footer:

MVP Mechanical - Seattle Heating, in Beautiful Washington State

Anchors / Links over-optimized

On the homepage towards the bottom he has placed a couple of anchor text rich links, one to his homepage and one to his services page like:

Seattle Heating (links to itself, the homepage)
Heating for Seattle WA (links to the services page /seattle-heating/

On about 5 of the services pages and main pages, at the bottom of the page, he has added a single anchor text rich link back to the homepage, like:

Heating in Seattle
Seattle WA Heating
Heating, Seattle WA

Titles

Title tags are over-optimzed with Brand name + City + Main KW appearing at the end of every title as the default. ie:

Corporate Installation | MVP Mechanical Seattle WA Heating

help-me-300x193.jpg

Any advice?

Is it worth changing this stuff and risking the rankings? His site gets about 300 organic visits per day and it's a huge part of his business, which makes this a very nerve racking change to make. Yet if we don't do anything it could bite us at some point.

Have any of you dealt with this before?

Any advice on how to proceed and what to expect?

Worried-Indian-Man-@-Computer.jpg


help-me-300x193.jpg
 

Blake Denman

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Instead of removing everything, start slow.

Before I would even begin to do something like that I would really look at the user metrics. Are people staying on the site, and completing actions? If he is getting a fair amount of organic traffic, I would assume people aren't bouncing because the pages look to spammy.

Back to de-optimizing. I would start with one page, and see what happens with that. Pay attention to organic traffic to that page and compare YoY analytics to it. If you don't see a major drop in traffic and ranking, move to another page.

I'm actually testing the opposite approach on a test site I have. Trying to push the envelope a bit.

Good luck!
 

painperdu

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Seems to me that if it aint broke then there is no need to fix it.

Can something be over optimized?

Maybe in the future something will come along and wipe out his great rankings but if this has been going on for 10 years and creating tons of traffic then what's the rush to end it?
 

Rich Owings

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I agree that you shouldn't try wholesale de-optimization. Whether you decide to do no de-optimization or take a go slow and test approach, it's important to explain the risk and your rationale to the client and get their buy-in to the approach.

I would also work on reducing their risk by focusing your efforts on other channels -- referral, email, paid search, social, direct, etc. How much of their traffic is organic and what can you do to increase other sources? In my mind this could be the most appropriate way to handle the situation.
 

Linda Buquet

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One place I'd start is all the anchor text links that go to home.

I consulted for an atty that also does SEO for other attys so is very SEO savvy. He had a major rank drop and could not figure it out. I told him it was just that one thing.
He had a footer link on every page that was like "Dallas Attorney - Lawyer in Dallas" and pointed to home.

I told him that was the problem and had him change the anchor to "Home". He kinda scoffed at the idea and said no way that one thing was the problem. About 9 days later he popped back up to #2 where he was before.
 

leadjoint

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Seems to me that if it aint broke then there is no need to fix it.

Not in SEO I guess. An over-optimized page is just a disaster waiting to happen. In OP's case, the client is probably ranking despite his over-optimizations because his competitions are worse off (in authority).

Even I think, the best step forward is to change one thing at a time, analyze the impact for a week or two and then repeat. I would still be scared to modify the URLs though. I always get into a state of panic when I get there.
 

JoshuaMackens

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I'm not sure I would touch it either. I would explain the pros and cons and see what he says but at this point, I would leave it alone. I doubt his ranking is low and he's only ranking because his competitors are poorly optimized. Instead, I would imagine it's the stalwart authority he has built up with Google over the years that has kept him there.

Honestly, I wouldn't touch a thing until his rankings dip.
 

Martin John

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Hey guys, thank you for all of the replies, much appreciated!

ltnlfz.jpg

Many of you have expressed doubts as to why I would even want to touch the site if it is ranking well and there are no problems. As leadjoint said, I worry that it is on-site over optimization problems just waiting to happen. And I'd rather take care of this now then have it looming over us heading into the future.

As many of you pointed out, things should be done slowly, and that is my plan.

Here is the plan:

1. Site wide footer link: change from keyword rich anchor with brand + keyword + city to just brand name. (as per Linda's recommendations, thank you Linda)

2. Change (not remove!) Some of the [keyword + city] anchor text rich links (pointing to homepage) that have been dropped at the bottom of some of the main pages (there are about 15 of them scattered throghout the site). I will do this slowly, a few a week, and just change them to [brand name]. Perhaps in the future I will slowly remove these all together.

3. Clean up the title tags. This should be the least invasive. As all I am doing is removing excess city & keywords in the title tags, making them read more natural and less keyword stuffed.

4. Url's. I'm going to wait on changing any of this stuff until the above 3 steps have been completed and everything has had some time to settle. Then maybe I will focus on de-optimizing one directory at a time, then any urls within that directory.

Will update with how things are going and any effects I see positive or negative.

Have already completed #1, with #2 and #3 underway.

Thanks!
Martin.

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JoyHawkins

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I actually have a client in this exact same boat and was looking for advice online on what to do with an over-optimized site.

I'm seeing a lot of information that says that internal linking to the homepage with exact match anchor text is bad.

So what I'm wondering is if I have client whose main service is auto insurance, and they offer other types of insurance of course, the auto insurance inner page would be the best page to rank, according to everything I've read. However, in reality all I ever see is homepages ranking. So the questions I'm wrestling with is

1. Would you want to optimize the homepage for keyword that technically belongs to an inner page?

2. If the homepage and an inner page are currently optimized for the same keyword (they are in my client's case), what problems does this give you?

My guy doesn't have a crazy amount of footer links but he does have a tag on the top of his site that says "auto insurance toronto" which displays on every page. So again, I'm wondering if since every page containing the keyword he's targeting is bad (I'm guessing it is).

BTW - I used insurance and Toronto as examples - he's actually not an insurance agent and isn't in Toronto.
 

JoshuaMackens

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I actually have a client in this exact same boat and was looking for advice online on what to do with an over-optimized site.

I'm seeing a lot of information that says that internal linking to the homepage with exact match anchor text is bad.

So what I'm wondering is if I have client whose main service is auto insurance, and they offer other types of insurance of course, the auto insurance inner page would be the best page to rank, according to everything I've read. However, in reality all I ever see is homepages ranking. So the questions I'm wrestling with is

1. Would you want to optimize the homepage for keyword that technically belongs to an inner page?

2. If the homepage and an inner page are currently optimized for the same keyword (they are in my client's case), what problems does this give you?

My guy doesn't have a crazy amount of footer links but he does have a tag on the top of his site that says "auto insurance toronto" which displays on every page. So again, I'm wondering if since every page containing the keyword he's targeting is bad (I'm guessing it is).

BTW - I used insurance and Toronto as examples - he's actually not an insurance agent and isn't in Toronto.

1) I see 1 SEO issue with this and 1 conversion issue.

The SEO issue would be there's only so many times you can put the city in the homepage before you start to head into keyword stuffing. Say, you feel comfortable with having the city in there 5 times. Do you keep the city next to your main keyword 5 times? Do you take it away and lessen the relevance from your main keyword to add it to a secondary keyword? That's the SEO issue.

The conversion issue is simpler. If you have an inner page that ranks well for that term, the landing page will be all about that term and more likely to convert.

2) I don't see this as an SEO issue. It may be a user quality issue if the content for those keywords is very similar, which isn't an incredibly huge deal.

SEO-wise, it wouldn't do anything but help solidify your relevance for that keyword, in my opinion.

As for the "auto insurance toronto" issue. I think you would be fine to make that 1 change and remove it. It may even help, as Linda suggested. I would just be careful of massive changes if he's ranking well already.
 
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