If you build too many links with the same exact match anchor text, you are going to fall to the Penguin filter algorithm. If you add too many optimized keywords to a page, and build too many spammy internal links, you are likely to get hit with the Panda filter algorithm. If you add to many ads above the fold, you are likely to get hit with the Page Layout algorithm. If you have too much duplicated content on a page, that page is likely going to be devalued by a duplicate content filter.
If you don’t have enough links with the right keywords, you won’t rank. If you don’t optimize enough keywords on a page, and don’t internally link, you won’t rank. If you don’t add enough ads where the user will see them you might lose revenue. And if you have to rewrite ever word on a page, then you likely will waste money and time.
As you can see, successful SEO often comes down to understanding the right balance of signals and tactics. Exceeding this balance is an extremely common place mistake by most SEOs and web site owners. Seth Godin calls this mistake a moderation glitch. Godin shows us that exceeding any behavior beyond a point of maximum benefit can have a negative consequence.
So now the question becomes, how do SEOs avoid a moderation glitch? Godin says that moderation should be incorporated into everything that is done within an organization, and also to identify when good habits, become bad habits. These are both great tips, but they could be a bit more tactical for SEO.
Here are some tips for avoiding a SEO moderation glitch:
- Have realistic goals and monitor progress. Some site owners will have 30 or 40 terms that they want to rank #1 for. That’s just not going to happen. Others what to triple their traffic in one month. That isn’t going to happen either. Having realistic goals and monitoring your advancement towards those goals will help you realize when you can put the brakes on any behavior that might tip the scale. Let’s say in 6 months you can see a 300% increase in organic traffic. That might be a great time to scale back on link building, and start building more content.
- Have a crystal clear understanding of where you already are. Let’s say you do a backlink analysis and see that 40% of your anchor text is all the same term. This term might be what you want to rank for, but building more links with the same anchor text might get you flagged by Penguin. Or let’s say that you want to build out a new set of pages with the same template. But after looking at an audit you can see that 70% of the pages on that template have a repetitive URL pattern. You should probably switch up the template or URLs to avoid Panda. Both of these examples of moderation will isolate risk, and wouldn’t even be known without a clear understanding of what’s already been built.
- Change behavior with the same target in mind. Let’s pretend you have a banner ad at the top of your site. You want to increase your ad revenue, so you consider putting another ad on the top of the page. But while doing a traffic audit, you realize that pages that have ads at the top have a high bounce rate. So maybe adding a new ad module at the top would not be a great idea. Instead, you might want to increase the quality of the content produced to bring user further down the fold, where you can place the new ad module you had originally planned for the top. This type of moderation by shifting behavior will isolate you from the page layout algorithm and create a better user experience for your site.
Like Godin points out, moderation is key to an organization’s future growth. However, it is also a valuable strategy when isolating a domain from algorithm filters, or penalties with the search engines.