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[_] SEO gone crazy

Steve Johnston steve at
Tue Dec 8 14:06:44 GMT 2009

Hi [_]

Yep, gone crazy, no doubt.

Keyword density is not a reliable indicator of importance or relevance or
usefulness - Google knows this - which means any SEO talking about keyword
density these days, doesn't know what they are talking about (we used to,
before we saw the light). However the pursuit of noise reduction, i.e. the
removal of irrelevant words from the indexed content of a page, is noble
(from an SEO point of view). The sad thing about this example, as indicated
by a couple of the responses, is that someone seems to have latched onto the
idea that the navigation content is somehow irrelevant to the content being
indexed, which is plainly crazy.
A little blog post on the topic:

The fatal flaw in taking out the anchor text from the navigation is that it
is incredibly important in the flow of relevance and reputation around the
site because it is typically on every page, linking to the top level page of
every category on the site. The targets of these navigation links then stand
a much better chance of performing for the vocabulary in the navigation as a
result. Managing the flow of reputation around a site by carefully managing
navigation text is a core SEO method. 

Finally, I'd add that within the HTML it is very straight forward to both
divide and mark-up the content so its semantic relationships are explicit to
Google. Consequently having a bunch of navigation items in list tags in a
separate divs from the core content and its H1 etc. of a page makes it clear
that the navigation items are less important to that page's topic anyway.

Steve Johnston 
Google Consultant
m: +44 7717 747657
t: +44 20 8133 0657
e: steve at

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Hamilton [mailto:matth at] 
Sent: 08 December 2009 13:51
To: underscore at
Subject: Re: [_] SEO gone crazy

On 8 Dec 2009, at 13:48, Joe Leech wrote:

>> Does this seem a bit far fetched? Surely there are vast numbers of  
>> sites out
>> there with menus like this that have awesome SEO regardless.
> I'm working on a similar problem now with a price comparison website
> I'm working on.  Their SEO dept have advised to go down the copy route
> as what Google perceives as navigation is given a far greater
> weighting in PageRank than copy.
> So I agree with Tim, if the keyword density needs to be reduced do it
> in the copy.  Also replacing the nav with images is gonna be a 'mare
> to keep up to date.

Indeed. Surely the nav is the best bit of SEO-ness you have? I mean,  
if the nav doesn't describe what the page is about you are going to  
click on, then your IA is pretty flawed. But then I guess it sounds  
like they are trying to do something a little neferious.


Matt Hamilton                                       matth at
Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd.           Understand. Develop. Deliver                             +44 (0)117 9090901
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