Get down on one knee and propose to Google. 

Getting Google to send Internet traffic to your website is exactly like those old courtship rituals of the days when wooing was all the rage. There are protocols, best practices and terms of service. It’s an engagement. A partnership. Hopefully, if you keep Google happy, it will be a long partnership and your website will have a steady flow of Internet traffic.

So what is going on, you say? Well, for starters, Google is in the midst of a major effort to reduce excessive search engine optimization (SEO) tactics which they judge to be manipulative or unfair. Google has warned some webmasters that they will penalize a website for “over optimization”.

What is over optimization and what steps can be taken to prevent it?

Google penalty, you say? What does that mean? Let’s put it this way… a penalty from Google is bad. Real bad. A penalty from Google can be a major blow to an Internet company. It results in less traffic from the Google Gods, so—at all cost— we as webmasters try to avoid them.

Here are five important tips for reducing your chances of a penalty from the Google Gods:

1. Repositioning Ads “above the fold”.

Repositioning ads that are above the fold on your web pages, especially ones that have links that leave your site is crucial to making the Google Gods happy. Image Ads above the fold with links that leave your site are considered spam, or also indicate a low-quality site. Regular navigation above the fold is natural, but if all the links above the fold leave your site, it is spam. Google is becoming more aggressive about weeding out these types of sites from the Google index.

“Above the fold” is a graphic design concept that refers to the location of an important news story or a visually appealing photograph on the upper half of the front page of a newspaper, or in case of webpages.

2. Be sure links to/from your website are earned.

Organic links are earned and appropriate to the subject matter of your page, while an inorganic link has a low overlap of complementary content. Inorganic links on your website suggest to the Google Gods that you are out buying, soliciting or bartering links. Organic versus inorganic links is a term that is referenced in a “re-inclusion response” from Google, so it is a real term and webmasters need to take notice.

3. Analyze the trust factors of your inbound and outbound links.

Biased of links, the trust factors of sites that link TO your site, are now more important than ever. You can determine the inbound links to your site in Google’s Webmaster Central. So, make sure that your inbound links are appropriate to your site. Link out to websites that are organic and appropriate—meaning your site content complements the content of the site that you are linking TO.

4. Analyze your website’s navigational structure.

Present the page the way the page should be presented. Google has been very vague about what over-optimization is. They draw a line for spammers, however, Google must be intentionally vague otherwise spammers will take advantage. The best webmasters can do is to attempt to determine what over optimization is. Over optimization is the organic and inorganic approach to link structures and the network of your inbound links. Inbound links are the easiest to get, therefore they are a likely target for over optimization.

5. Google Chrome code to detect over optimization

Spiders do not fully emulate a browser, even though Google owns a browser, called Chrome. Google could take part of the browser code and use that to render pages. They could even call it a browser, instead of Googlebot. Google can easily determine what a page is about with its technology. CSS, Javascript, Page Headers can easily be resolved and Google can determine what a websites’ theme is, therefore, when designing your link structure, both inbound and outbound, remember this fact. Google can determine what your website is about, therefore, you should keep that in mind when designing or pruning your inbound and outbound links.

Why is Google acting on this now?

The rule of threes: Pretty soon the first page of organic results on Google will be three pay-per-click links, three organic links, and three Places links. The other 10 percent of the page will be engagement such as videos, news, images, etc. So, the home page will really only have three organic links that matter. Brands that are purely virtual on the web will not be able to compete against Google Places. In order for quality sites to show up in the organic space, Google must get rid of the sites that ply for those rankings and in order to do this, they need to make the organic listings better.

Recommendations for SEO

Google will continue to tighten down on organic and inorganic links. If people link to your website for no reason, it could hurt you. If people link to you and it is totally expected, then it is organic and it counts. Webmasters need to look at inbound and outbound links and prune those links to be sure that they are organic. Site owners need to be more careful about who they link to and who links to them.